Sensory Overload: Hashu leaves 'em breathless at Park Street Saloon

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In the midst of Hashu’s performance opening for Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples at Park Street Saloon on a recent Thursday, the local youngster boasted, “Before I live 20 best believe I turn a million.”

While he’s got a ways to go on both accounts (a September 2014 news item pegged him at 16 years old), the rapper flashed noticeable charisma and a developing skillset during his short warmup set.

Songs veered between open hearted and hard headed — “After one heartfelt moment I want one more ignorant moment,” he said between tracks — and he followed a comparatively fragile turn borne of shattered days with a middle finger directed toward any and all haters. “I’m doing me,” he growled.

Hashu balanced this braggadocio with a welcome dose of self-deprecation. “I worked at Panera, son, I been about my bread,” he huffed at the close of one tune. The beats were similarly varied, flirting with everything from syrupy, chopped-and-screwed backdrops to more syncopated, digitized ping pong rallies.

In a handful of tracks posted online, including the hypnotic “What I Do” and the percolating, otherworldly “Lately,” the teenager exhibits surprising breath control, bouncing between lines as though he were born with an extra lung. In concert, however, Hashu sometimes struggled to find his wind, likely owing to some combination of the heat (the venue was sweltering without the additional burden of being positioned under the stage lights), nerves (a sizeable crowd gathered early for Sweatshirt’s headlining turn), pacing (dude refused to pull back to conserve energy) and inexperience. In turn, there were a couple occasions toward the latter half of the set where the MC relied too heavily on the booming backing track, dropping off and letting the prerecorded vocals carry the weight.

These small hiccups aside, Hashu performed admirably, projecting a confidence that belied his years (he even debuted one untested song written just three days prior to the concert — a move that showed serious gumption) and enough stage presence to assure he belonged. Indeed, by the time the rapper launched himself into the outstretched arms of the audience in a set-closing, spur-of-the-moment trust fall of sorts, it was clear he had earned the faith of the gathered throng.

Andy Downing photo