Favorite songs: “Backhand,” “Rat,” “323 (Outro)”
By name alone, Welcome to Heaven is a formal introduction to the rambunctious world of Houston artist HVN. Seven tracks and 15 minutes in length, it’s a short, high-octane listen, intentionally crafted with a roster of rising H-Town stars, from production to features.
Weaving between straight-forward jabs like “Backhand” and more melodic, full-body cuts such as “Rolling,” Welcome to Heaven is raw, but calculated. There’s the atmospheric build of “Dirty” and then, directly after, a feature-filled knockout punch in “Rat,” which sees HVN share the spotlight with BBY Kodie and Ygr. Throughout the project, HVN builds up and subsequently dismantles a city of his own creation, luring listeners deep into his singular vision of Houston hip-hop.
Closing the project is the haunting “323 (Outro).” Enlivened by a hypnotic vocal sample, the song offers a short final verse, only to ride out the last minute-and-a-half in instrumental. As the beat plays, the feeling lingers. Welcome to Heaven, indeed.—Seamus Fay