Heems

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Heems
Heems performing on stage in Atlanta, Georgia, 2011
Heems performing on stage in Atlanta, Georgia, 2011
Background information
Birth nameHimanshu Kumar Suri
Also known asHima
Born (1985-07-06) July 6, 1985 (age 35)
OriginQueens, New York, U.S.
GenresHip hop
Occupation(s)Rapper
Years active2008–present
Labels
Associated acts

Himanshu Kumar Suri[1] (born July 6, 1985),[2] better known by his stage name Heems, is an American rapper from Queens in New York City. Best known for being part of the alternative hip hop group Das Racist, Suri is also the founder of Greedhead Music, an independent record label. In 2012, Suri released his first solo mixtape, Nehru Jackets, on his Greedhead imprint and in conjunction with SEVA NY, a community-based organization from Queens of which Suri is a board member. Suri has also written about music and all things South Asian for The Village Voice, Death and Taxes, Fuse, Stereogum, and AlterNet.[3] In August 2015, Heems announced that Fox had bought his story rights for a potential sitcom, and that he was working on the pilot.[4] He is currently a member of Swet Shop Boys along with actor and rapper Riz MC and producer Redinho.[5]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Bellerose, Queens, New York, Suri graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 2003, where he was the vice president of the student council when the September 11 attacks happened two blocks away.[6][7] Suri then attended Wesleyan University, where he studied economics.[8] After graduating from Wesleyan, Suri moved back to New York where he worked in the financial sector until finding success with Das Racist.[8]

He is of Punjabi-Indian descent.[9]

Das Racist[edit]

In 2008, Suri formed Das Racist with his college friend Victor Vazquez, known professionally as Kool A.D.[6] Shortly thereafter, Suri's high school friend Ashok Kondabolu joined as their hype man.[10] Das Racist first found success on the internet with their 2008 song "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell", and then quickly established themselves within the underground rap scene with their 2010 mixtapes Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, both of which earned them critical acclaim, including Pitchfork's designation of "Best New Music" as well as spawning tours across North America, Europe and Asia.[citation needed]

Solo career[edit]

While still with Das Racist, Suri released his first two mixtapes - Nehru Jackets and Wild Water Kingdom. After the break up of Das Racist at the end of 2012, Suri moved to Bombay to work on his first official album.[11] In April 2014, he recorded for a commercial for Vitamin Water in Japan.[11]

In January 2012, Suri released his first solo mixtape, Nehru Jackets, on his own Greedhead imprint.[12] Nehru Jackets was released in collaboration with SEVA NY.[12] Guests on Nehru Jackets include Despot, Danny Brown, and Childish Gambino.[13] The album has received positive reviews, including a score of 8/10 from Spin.[14]

Heems's second mixtape, Wild Water Kingdom, was released on November 14, 2012, also on the Greedhead label.[15] It features production from Harry Fraud, Keyboard Kid, Crookers, Beautiful Lou, Le1f, and Lushlife.[15] Guests on Wild Water Kingdom include Childish Gambino and Lakutis.[16]

His debut solo album, Eat Pray Thug, was released on March 10, 2015, on Greedhead/Megaforce Records.[17] The album was recorded in Bombay and Brooklyn and includes collaborations with Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange), Rafiq Bhatia, Gordon Voidwell, Boody B, and Harry Fraud. Heems has referred to the album as "9/11 and Heartbreak."[17] The first single, "Sometimes," was released on January 8, 2015.[17]

Greedhead Music[edit]

To manage Das Racist, Suri founded his own record label, Greedhead Music, as a management and recording company in 2008.[18] Greedhead's first releases were the group's 2010 mixtapes. Das Racist's first commercially available album, Relax, was also the first commercial release on the Greedhead imprint. Greedhead has since released solo mixtapes by Kool A.D. (The Palm Wine Drinkard)[19] and Heems (Nehru Jackets),[12] as well as Keepaway's Black Flute,[20] Lakutis' I'm in the Forest,[21] Le1f's Dark York,[22] and Big Baby Gandhi's Big Fucking Baby.[21]

Activism[edit]

Suri has been a vocal advocate of the South Asian community in New York. In January 2012, Suri joined the board of directors of the Queens-based community organization SEVA.[23] Suri plans to work with SEVA to develop a community center with a recording studio for local youth.[24] Suri has worked extensively with SEVA to push for more equitable redistricting in Queens.[25] Suri has publicly supported Reshma Saujani's bid for New York City Public Advocate, saying, "We will probably have the highest South Asian voter turnout ever this year because of her on the ballot and the resources she will be putting in it. This is the most qualified and well resourced candidate from the [South Asian] community ever."[26]

Art[edit]

In addition to his musical career, Suri also maintains a longstanding relationship with the art scene, especially in New York City. In 2010, Das Racist performed as a part of the Whitney Museum of American Art's Biennial celebration, curated by California artist Martin Kersels.[27] In April 2013, Suri returned to the Whitney as part of the Blues for Smoke exhibit, an interdisciplinary exhibition that explored "a wide range of contemporary art through the lens of the blues and blues aesthetics."[28] He performed alongside former Das Racist member Ashok Kondabolu (Dapwell), Greedhead rapper Le1f, and psych-dance band Prince Rama.[29][30] In February 2015, Heems curated an art exhibition at the Aicon Gallery in anticipation of his new album, Eat Pray Thug.[31] The exhibition contained a wide variety of South Asian artists as well as events and performances throughout its month-long run, including artists such as The Kominas, Riz Ahmed (Riz MC), and Heems himself.[32]

Film[edit]

In 2012, Suri joined an all-star cast of New York musicians in Amrit Singh's documentary short, Dosa Hunt, on a quest to find the best dosa (a traditional South Indian crepe) in town.[33] In 2013, Heems made his acting debut along with R&B artist Kelis in "Brazzaville Teen-Ager," a short film which starred and was written and directed by Michael Cera.[34] In 2015, he played a supporting role as rascally ad agency employee named Reny in Benjamin Dickinson's Creative Control,[35] which premiered at SXSW 2015, where Heems also performed. Suri starred in Tanuj Chopra's 2016 film Chee and T, which premiered at the LA Film Festival.[36]

Twitter[edit]

Suri has also received attention for his activity on Twitter. In the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden, Suri collected and retweeted racist tweets, drawing attention to the prevalence of xenophobia and Islamophobia in the celebratory national mood.[37][38] In January 2011, Rolling Stone magazine named Suri #11 on its list of "50 Top Tweeters in Music".[39]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Mixtapes[edit]

Guest appearances[edit]

  • Small Black - "Two Rivers" and "Sunday Son" from Moon Killer (2011)
  • Lushlife - "Hale-Bopp Was the Bedouins" from Plateau Vision (2012)
  • Meyhem Lauren - "Special Effects" and "Juevos Rancheros" from Respect the Fly Shit (2012)
  • Meyhem Lauren - "Carvel" from Mandatory Brunch Meetings (2012)
  • Weekend Money - "Yellow" from Naked City (2012)
  • Hot Sugar - "56k" from Midi Murder (2012)
  • Hot Sugar - "Born 2" from Made Man (2013)
  • Misteur Valaire - "Life Gets Brutal" from Bellevue (2013)
  • Maffew Ragazino - "Jackson Pollock" from Brownsville's Jesus (2014)
  • Antwon - "KLF ELF" from Heavy Hearted in Doldrums (2014)
  • Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild - "Narcotics Anonymous" from Silk Pyramids (2014)
  • Vampire Weekend - "Step (Wintertime Remix)" (2014)
  • Nick Catchdubs - "Full House" from Smoke Machine (2015)
  • Sonnyjim - "Al Jazeera" from Mud in My Malbec (2016)
  • Your Old Droog - "Bangladesh" from Packs (2017)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davis, Justin (December 15, 2015). "Interview: Heems Opens Up About Upcoming 'Eat Pray Thug' Fox TV Series". Complex. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Yo fuck. I turn 30 tomorrow. Rishta murmurs reaching peak". @HIMANSHU. Twitter. July 5, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  3. ^ "Artists/Performers/Publishers 2011". Goa Arts and Literature Festival. Archived from the original on April 29, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Adams, Gregory (August 26, 2015). "Heems to Apparently Get His Own Sitcom". Exclaim!. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Minsker, Evan (August 2, 2016). "Heems and Riz MC (Riz Ahmed) Are Swet Shop Boys, Announce New Album With Single T5: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Menezes, Vivek (October 2011). "Mic Check". The Caravan. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  7. ^ Sarlin, Benjy (September 8, 2011). "The Soldier and the Rap Star: A Tale of Two Post-9/11 Students". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Usinger, Mike (January 20, 2011). "Das Racist's Himanshu Suri drops out for indie rap". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  9. ^ Getman, David (April 26, 2012). "Above the Radar Part II: Zachg, Danny Brown and Heems on hip-hop today". The Daily Californian.
  10. ^ Caramanica, Jon (September 13, 2011). "Order Moves in on Chaos, as Rappers Go Legit". The New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Lockett, Dee (April 9, 2014). "Das Racist's Heems Made a Japanese Commercial for Vitamin Water, and It's Hilarious". Slate. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c Kennedy, Channing (January 17, 2012). "Das Racist's Himanshu Suri: Rapper, Jokester, Community Organizer?". Colorlines. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  13. ^ Hogan, Marc (January 17, 2012). "Das Racist's Heems Drops 'Nehru Jackets' Mixtape". Spin. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  14. ^ Soderberg, Brandon (January 2012). "Himanshu 'Nehru Jackets'". Spin. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Minsker, Evan; Battan, Carrie (November 14, 2012). "Download the New Mixtape From Das Racist's Heems, Wild Water Kingdom". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  16. ^ Martins, Chris (November 14, 2012). "Das Racist's Heems Teases New Album, Defends 'Relax' in Reddit AMA". Spin. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  17. ^ a b c Minsker, Evan (January 8, 2015). "Heems (Formerly of Das Racist) Announces Eat, Pray, Thug, Shares "Sometimes"". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  18. ^ "Labels to Watch". The Fader. December 15, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  19. ^ Mlynar, Phillip (January 9, 2012). "Hive Five: A Greedhead Records Primer". MTV Hive. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  20. ^ Cohen, Ian (January 9, 2012). "Keepaway: Black Flute (Greedhead, 2012)". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  21. ^ a b Ramos, Mike (December 1, 2011). "Lakutis' I'm In the Forest EP and Other Reasons You Should Really Be Paying Attention to Greedhead Music". The Stranger. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  22. ^ Cooper, Duncan (April 18, 2012). "Download Le1f's Dark York Mixtape". The Fader. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  23. ^ Dejohn, Irving (January 15, 2012). "Queens rapper adds star power to redistricting battle". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  24. ^ Walker, Hunter (January 11, 2012). "Redistrict Remix: Gerrymandering Issue Taken Up By Queens Rapper and Punjabi Proteges". New York Observer. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  25. ^ Campbell, Colin (August 21, 2012). "Das Racist Rapper Seeks to Influence City Council Redistricting". Politicker Network. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  26. ^ Campbell, Colin (April 3, 2013). "Das Racist Rapper Endorses Reshma Saujani for Public Advocate". Politicker. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  27. ^ La Putt, Chris. "Das Racist & Leslie Dick @ The Whitney Museum (pics)". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  28. ^ "Blues for Smoke | Whitney Museum of American Art". Whitney Museum of American Art. May 1, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  29. ^ "Blues for Smoke". Whitney Museum of American Art.
  30. ^ "Le1f, Mykki Blanco, Prince Rama & members of Das Racist playing the Whitney during 'Blues For Smoke' exhibition". BrooklynVegan. April 2, 2013. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  31. ^ Ismail, Aymann. "Das Racist's Himanshu Curated a Show for His Solo Album Eat Pray Thug". Animal New York. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  32. ^ "Aicon Gallery Press Release". Aicon Gallery. Archived from the original on February 19, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  33. ^ "Dosa Hunt (2012)". IMDb. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  34. ^ Young, Alex (April 23, 2013). "Watch Kelis and Das Racist's Heems in new Michael Cera short film". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  35. ^ "Creative Control (2015)". IMDb. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  36. ^ "World Premiere of Tanuj Chopra's Film at L.A. Film Festival". India West. May 20, 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  37. ^ Morrigan, Charlie (December 11, 2012). "10 Great Das Racist Moments". Thought Catalog. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  38. ^ Imjan, Sara (May 2, 2011). "@Heems:Curating Post-Bin Laden Bigotry". Turnstyle News. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  39. ^ Barshad, Amos (January 21, 2011). "50 Top Tweeters in Music". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 4, 2013.

External links[edit]