For years now, Samuel T. Herring, frontman for the great synthy-indie Baltimore band Future Islands, has been making rap music. Herring raps under the name Hemlock Ernst, and it’s not the embarrassing, halfassed side project that you might expect from the not-so-proud history of indie rockers attempting to rap. Instead, Herring has a dusty, insular, agile underground-rap flow. And he’s collaborated with some big, important rap figures: Madlib, JPEGMAFIA, Open Mike Eagle, the artist formerly known as milo.
Later this month, Herring will finally release his first full rap album. Hemlock Ernst got together with Kenny Segal, the LA-based producer who teamed up with billy woods on the amazing 2019 album Hiding Places, to release a new album called Back At The House. Herring and Segal have been working on the album slowly for a few years, and we’ve already posted the early track “Down.” And now they’ve shared another one called “Addicted Youth.”
Where “Down” was more of a technical lyrical exercise, “Addicted Youth” doesn’t sound that different from Future Islands. Segal chops up a few shards of acoustic guitar, and Herring ruminates on fears and regrets, letting some melody creep into his voice. We hear a few hints of the soulful growl that Herring uses when he’s singing. Herring also full-on sings on the outro, but only to quote Eric B. & Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend.” It’s pretty great! Listen below.
Back At The House is out 10/25 on Ruby Yacht, the label run by Rap Ferreira, formerly known as milo.