|Album Review: Qveen Herby – 'EP 6'|
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Amy Noonan took her crown in 2017 when she rebranded from her former pop-duo as Karmin, and since has compiled six EP's under her belt as her own project Qveen Herby. As she decided to pursue her true passion of rapping, backed by a future R&B production by husband Nick Noonan, the string of collections have shaped her to this present moment, what does the Qveen embody now entering on EP 6?
With controversial opinions about the artist since her arrival, the question of identity always came into play and overshadowed Noonan's talent and brand based on the past of Karmin. Objectively, anyone who is trying to find their sound and voice can attest that it is a process. More so, temporary starts don't always reflect what we truly desire or who we are.
In that cultivation of time, it is clear that Qveen Herby isn't just a stage name or a quick grab of a marketing scheme; it is of an empowering woman that is taking charge. Her discography boasts of independence, rapid bars, modern R&B, and silky throwbacks, such as her well received single, "Sade in the 90's." Throughout the five EP's though, we always seem to hear a rather defensive Qveen needing to not showcase, but prove her worth to a "judgmental" audience.
Her latest release, EP 6 plays similarly, thematically speaking, with subtle differences in her demeanor, glued by modern and trap-flared productions, and a couple of missed transitions. Released only months after EP 5, the latter carries towards a stronger direction but still seems to withhold, and very well could act as the final installment of QH's introductory phase. With the only slightly lackluster and filling track, "Trophy Girl," the remaining collection is a familiar assertion from the artist.
Justifying this completion comes the EP's well placed closer, "FWM," which revisits the struggle of getting heard through the rigged system that seems to need more than "real talent" for the win. Nods at the past note QH has clearly paid her dues, recollecting her YouTube rise as she glosses over a contemporary R&B, pop hook: "Did you assume I had never left / When I blew up on the internet / Signed my life on a contract / Tossed me out like a first draft, yeah."
The album's lead single, "Mozart," which seems to also inspire the album artwork, is a sharp shooting strut, filled with clever word play ran over a symphonic-trap fusion. Enlisting Seattle's Gifted Gab and San Francisco's Blimes, the track continues to praise talented women in the industry and creates the EP's thunder. Each artist's verse adds the right amount of confident fuel for an anthemic approach that hopefully is explored further on upcoming releases.
In a different medium, "Mint" comes across as another track that stunts across from start to finish. It's fuller and rap centered than other tracks on the EP, flexing from verse to verse, and shines due to QH's signature blend of vocal runs and raps. Pairing nicely with the opening track, "New Bitch," the forward thinking stream the artist paves for herself is the identity of Qveen Herby. Dramatically building and dropping lists and diamonds on the way, the track is a clear reminder that QH now picks and chooses at the feet of her success. Spliced with a choppy flow and the modern modesty of mainstream rappers, "New Bitch" rests rumors and once again invokes a woman who is wearing respect alongside a flurry of hi hats.
It is clear that Qveen Herby is talented and has an eye for design, whether building her brand or own make-up line, but in terms of phases, the introduction seems to be passing. If Karmin did not exist, would Qveen Herby carry this weight of needing to prove her talent, and in the same vein would she have the fire to pen from this aggressive mindset? Probably not as much. EP 6 seems to teeter at the threshold of a different phase for the artist, one where we she can become completely comfortable in her own skin. Qveen Herby has the vocals and bars to execute with ease and if EP 6 showed us anything, it's that thrones aren't passed on — they're built.