Under Review

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Horsepowar

Out2Lunch

Self-Released; 03/03/2016

author
Dora Dubber

If I had to describe Jasleen ‘Horsepowar’ Powar in 5 seconds, I would say that she’s the west coast love child of M.I.A, Chance the Rapper, and Nicki Minaj. She incorporates Bollywood inspired aesthetics and sound into rapid, playful, cutthroat lyrics leaving the listener breathless — with the perfect blend of good vibes and thoughtfulness. One of the hosts of CiTR’s Crimes and Treasons, Powar understands current rap and hip hop, and creates a personal space that is both unique and original. Following up her 2015 EP Bollywoes,  Horsepowar hits hard with Out2Lunch, a six track examination of love, culture, identity, and entering adulthood.

In high school Horsepowar performed slam poetry at Vancouver’s Cafe Deux Soleils, eventually incorporating South Asian inspired beats over her flow. These lyrical origins are evident in the intricacies of her rhymes. Horsepowar grew up loving Bollywood film; its prominence in her music pays homage to her past and grounds her auditory aesthetic in an original South Asian-Hip Hop fusion. She has noted R&B artists Tinashe and Nelly Furtado as musical influences, which is clear in the underlying melodies accompanying her lyrics. But Horsepowar is definitely a rap artist; her lyrical strength and wit set her apart.

One of the most exciting things about Out2Lunch is Horsepowar’s collaborations with established and local producers. Fellow Crimes and Treasons host Homeboy Jules makes an appearance with a producer credit on two tracks, as well as LA based producer Maeili, Boody B & Jillionaire, and Toronto producer Francis Got Heat.

The high energy “Hi Everybody” is the most playful and fast paced track on the EP, with a strong bass beat and an easygoing but excited feel, making it a natural inclusion in any pump-up playlist. “Spawn” features Keerat Kaur’s rumbling vocals which add an ominousness that is largely absent from other tracks. It is the darkest song in Horsepowar’s repertoire, with her chant-like reiteration “Most likely I will go to hell / Most likely I deserve to go there.” This haunting addition to the track list does not detract from Out2Lunch’s impish tone, but incorporates nuance to polish the EP’s impact.

Out2Lunch is bookended by “Choose Your Own Adventure” and “Out2Lunch,” two quick, rap heavy episodes, both produced by Homeboy Jules, that establish Horsepowar’s lyrical mastery. The EP transitions from the eager lyrics and IDGAF attitude of “Choose” to the dedication to the lifestyle and seriousness as an artist in “Out2Lunch.” Together, these tracks reflect the evolution of Horsepowar’s career and where she’s going.