Andrew Huang took his Songs To Wear Pants To on the road during the summer of 2011 for a short stint across southern Canada and the west coast of the United States. During a normal month, Huang would drop several EPs and/or albums, as well as several STWPT songs, but during this inaugural tour, he had much less time for making music. However, he did put out one album in July, from his hip hop project, VS (pronounced "Verses"). It's a seven-track album (with five remixes) called Hearing A Truth Serum.
Hearing A Truth Serum is a pretty eclectic mix of hip hop tracks. He mixes it up with different takes on the genre throughout the album. We start with "Unsigned," which contains a synth-heavy, almost dubstep feel that would make for a great track for the clubs, while VS speaks about why he doesn't want to sign to a record label. "1-Up" has a thicker, heavier beat that mixes club with gangster rap. The flows are more akin to a Heath McNease or Manchild sort of flow (and yes, VS does use the sound effect from Super Mario Bros. for when you get an extra life). "Mass Appeal" has a signature VS flow, with music that's more along the lines of "Unsigned," but also has its own feel as well. "Rhyme" is one of my favorite tracks here, if for no other reason than the beat. First off, it's a terrific, authentic hip hop beat that, honestly, is just perfect. A few more Mario sound effects, some piano and a straightforward beat and solid flow, and "Rhyme" is a highlight. Not to mention, it's the same beat he used for the STWPT song "Crepes et Baguettes," which is one of my favorite STWPT songs. "Nostalgia" has more of a fun beat and showcases the love of odd time signatures that Huang uses in just about all of his projects. The song is done in 15/8 time, but even with the beat that throws me off at times, his flow is nice and smooth with seemingly no trouble working the beat to his advantage. "2-Wheeler" is a real laid back and short track, with a little bit of guitar leading the way. It flows smoothly into the last original track, "The Movement." The feel and rhythm are much like that of "2-Wheeler," though after the first hook, it does pick up the tempo and changes the sound a little. He does incorporate a little bit of rock into the song, as well as a good dose of synth that takes the place of the bass guitar.
The last five tracks are remixes of some of the songs before it. The first is "1-Up (Subcon Mix)," which turns it into much more of a dance-rock song, and adds a lot of intensity to the track. It's way more spastic than the original. "Unsigned (Black Jasmine Mix)" follows, and is quite the opposite of the previous track, taking the original and toning it down quite a bit. The music could be dancey if it was louder and the drums were more prominent. "Rhyme (Brood Mix)" has a similar beat to the original, but with lots more synth and some weird sounds here and there. "Dream World" is the remix version of "The Movement" and succeeds in bearing a pretty dreamy sound. It's a very chill track, and may be the one remix that I enjoy more than its original rendition. The album finishes with "Mass Appeal (Nitroglycerin Mix)," which is done in a synthy-industrial style. It's a pretty unique take on the song, and finishes the album in a terrific manner.
Of all of Huang's projects, VS seems to be the one that releases the least amount of music as of late (except Ghostface Kilobyte). So when he drops an album as VS, and it's as terrific as Hearing A Truth Serum, it only creates a desire for the listener (such as myself) to hear more of what he can do with the hip hop genre. He has a knack for mixing different styles together and making it blend brilliantly, so while this is a hip hop album at its roots, it also has different sounds and styles mixed in at just the right places to give it a sound all his own. In addition, though he's more than happy to remain "not signed to a record label," you wouldn't know it by the fantastic sound and production his music always has. It sounds very professionally done, and Huang sounds natural when he flows. If you like hip hop, and would like to hear a different take on it, make sure to check out Hearing A Truth Serum. You probably won't hear anything else like it.
- Review date: 8/17/11, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com