Who knew a song about a man hoping to endear himself to a regular girl could house so much within it's walls?
Coin Banks is a young Aussie artist, from Perth, who makes genuinely good music. His initial EP offering, Heads, was a conscious explosion of colour. His talent was matched by a technical ability that felt well honed. Rather than just slapping together a loose narrative and ensuring the final word of each bar rhymed with the final word of the previous, rather than letting the sun-drenched beats speak for themselves as he rode them like a passenger, Banks spent time making a track that really felt sorted. A solid piece of hip hop. Heads wasn't outstanding, but it was better than 90% of the stuff being concocted in hip hop bedrooms around the country.
Certainly, his collaborations with Ta-Ku have been truly audacious, but they were just big enough to work. Ta-Ku pulls off the bright lights better than most, and when Banks jumped on board his technical ability shone through.
So I follow him on Facebook and Twitter, he doesn't have a massive crowd behind him, but then who truly does in Aus hip hop these days? But he grinds. He grinds hard, and it can never be understated just how difficult it is to truly make a go of rapping independently in this country. These are the guys doing it for the absolute love, they are working full time and raising families and living normal lives, but at night or on the weekends when they hit the booth they are honing a skill some of us dream we could attain. That's why it PAINS me to write this.
Because, all Coin Banks seems intent on is getting airplay. And why not? All of my underground hip hoppers have stuff uploaded to Triple J's Unearthed page. Whilst they may not admit it, they dream of being the next Remi, because Remi does coast to coast shows, and that means Remi gets paid. These guys, they aren't getting paid, they aren't in a position to quit their jobs and make a career out of what they love. So why wouldn't you want to, on a very conscious level, chase that sound that Triple J so craves?
This is why Someone, the newest single by Banks, just makes me sad. I was listening to Triple J today and the weedy-voiced intern who reads out a list of new songs someone has deemed play-worthy mentioned the newest track by Coin Banks was now on J rotation. So I went back and had a real close listen to Someone.
It has all the hallmarks of radio-fodder. Simplicity of a drum-line beat is expanded upon by brass. Brass must be the go-to for Aussies wanting to hit the radio. Why do we like it so? Is it because of Just Blaze, because of the early 2000s and the explosion of hip hop on to mainstream radio? Who knows. It's no longer shared by the rest of the world, but in Australia producers are doubling down on this sound and making the airwaves with it. In isolation, there's nothing wrong with this, but then Banks steps in. It's about love.. "I want you forever but forever's not very long". "I love you the way Beyonce loves Jay, the way Kim loves Ray, shit I mean Kanye". Yuck. Pedestrian, anemic. What happens to the kid who threw hands over the futuristic stylings on Circles? Who name-checked Nina Simone? Who even went a little trap on Hatches?!
Nah son. The bearded inner-city hipster with his 1988 walkmen locked on Triple J won't have heard of Nina Simone unless The Doctor announced a Double J tribute to her. He knows about the whole Kim and Ray Jay tape, and when Banks croons 'Give you what you want, what you need' he could be rapping about love or the arc in which he has taken his music and marketing. There's an almost offhanded attempt to switch the flow up halfway through the second verse, with a suite of Mona Lisa and Air Jordan references, and 'it's hard to compare / a beach to an island / what I've seen to a blind man / you are the only view that my eyes can see vividly'. Is that a woman or is it.. God forbid.. Airplay?
I really really like Coin Banks. I think he is so much more than Someone. He is a breath of fresh air in a market that has become so stagnant, and he just may have the nous and ability to straddle the gaping divide between good Australian hip hop and the stuff that is forced down our throats by our independent music station. (On that note, Hilltop Hoods can HANG THEIR HEADS IN SHAME at the record they released this year, they've taken to the divide with a jackhammer and ensured it's wider than ever before). Someone is not that crossover track. Aus hip hop is still waiting for its Hard Knock Life, it's My Name Is, it's Juicy. The song that will truly launch the underground in to the limelight. Coin Banks can be that man for the genre. Let's wait and see..
Coin Banks can be found in these places:
His music can be found here:
And he looks like this