Today (August 26) hip hop heads have been spoiled with not one, not two, but three banging new releases; one by a new voice and two by old hands in the game. All three showcase distinctive directions into which the same hip hop can be channeled to express emotion and send a message. Here’s a summary of what to expect from each.
Banks & Steelz – Anything But Words
Paul Banks, lead of post-punk band Interpol and RZA, de facto leader of legendary hip hop outfit Wu-Tang Clan met over shots of tequila and decided to see what would happen if they jammed together. Having seemingly nothing in common, the two highly successful artists gave it a go and the result was a band christened Banks & Steelz. You can listen to the history of Banks and Steelz in more detail here. The last part of that name is drawn from RZA’s other alias, Bobby Steelz. How could two schools of thought so different be made to co-exist? Well, the group’s first album, ‘Anything But Words’, is hard evidence that it can happen. But it does take time; the pair first met in 2013. What Banks & Steelz offer is a slightly slower-paced, wizened version of what Linkin Park do, only with a more universal appeal. Here is one of the tracks from the project, a song called ‘Love + War’ on which RZA reunites with fellow Wu-Tang lyricist Ghostface Killah. If you like what you here, download the entire album.
Vince Staples – Prima Donna
Vince Staples’ new EP is almost as much of a mixed bag as RZA and Paul Banks’ album though it only contains five songs and has only one guest artist on one song, there’s even a bit of rock n roll for good measure. Each song seems to have a life of its own and you will see why when you listen to his Beats 1 interview with Zane Lowe. He may have given the inspiration for each song in 25 seconds but from the deliberate details in each song you can tell that many decisions went into every guest feature, instrument, note and line. Here’s a brief glimpse of the album as we count down the minutes to the full release.
De La Soul – and the Anonymous Nobody
We’ve been hyping the comeback crowdfunded album from NYC hip hop powerhouse De La Soul for a while now, from the Snoop Dogg-featuring ‘Pain‘ to the Usher-featuring ‘Greyhounds‘. Now that I’ve listened to the project in its entirety I am convinced this is the most complete hip hop LP out to date. It is a beautifully put-together collection of songs with loving attention to detail. Posdnuos, Maseo and Dave have re-asserted their dominance of the rap game without appearing to break a sweat. Favorite track? I think it’s almost a tie between Pain and ‘Drawn’. Cop the album and decide for yourself which is the best of the 17 tracks.
Miami Based, Internationally Known