If you read H3RO's interview last month, you should be well aware that almost three years have passed since his last release. If 2015's Between The Panels shined a light on H3RO's character, Tragic H3RO uncovers darkness lurking in his shadows. One of the most important themes addressed in the album is storytelling. H3RO is honest and transparent even when the story is messy and uncomfortable.
Our hero stays true to his roots by including theatric skits throughout the album. The title track, "Tragic H3RO" kicks off the album as he vents about the woes of being a traditional Hip-Hop artist in the evolving genre. Another song along those same lines is "Can I Be Happy?" Both are classic H3RO songs where his wordplay stands out over standard Hip-Hop beats. Both are a treat to see live. "P.W.Y.O.M." comes in with one of the best beats on the entire album. Equipped with a moving piano melody and accompanying choir vocals, this is the one to get you riled up. FatRat the Czar closes the track with a verse to solidify this as one of the strongest tracks on the album. However, "Static Shock" would beg to differ. Another high-energy track with complementary features. This is one of the few times I've heard H3RO spit over more modern beats with heavy bass and complex percussion. The hit single "Freedom" is nestled in the perfect spot towards the end of the album. To close, our H3RO shows a softer side for the woman who will comfort him when he inevitably has to hang up his cape. "Relationship" is no exception. Katera's vocals add the finishing touches to one of the most vulnerable songs on the album. I have a weak spot for Hip-Hop songs about love. From Lil' Wayne's Something You Forgot to Phay's Real Love, there's something about a rapper showing a woman how important she is that always shakes my soul.
Tragic H3RO is a story about growth as a person and an artist. This journey comes full circle at the close of the figurative curtains. This project is a compelling and mature body of work that reframes the idea of full-length Hip-Hop albums in an era of loose singles and haphazard EPs. As I listened to H3RO spit exceptional bars, take artistic risks, and showcase talented artists from the Carolinas (shoutout to BINACT vets TWN, Cole Connor, and V Renee), I can honestly say my heart is full.