Coin Banks - Tails EP
Coin Banks: http://coinbanksofficial.com/
Coin Banks loves a brass section. His brand new EP, Tails, is hornier than Vince Neil. Even during the harder edged Focus, the climax involves someone blowing hard enough to inadvertently release the spit valve.
What it means is that Tails falls agonisingly short of being the saviour I was predicting when I reviewed Coin Banks' single release, Someone. In it, I claimed that Coin Banks could be exactly what Australian hip hop is looking for. And I believe he is. When on form, he manages to straddle the ever widening gap between mainstream and underground. I won't name names, but then again I will. Guys like 360, Illy, and The Hilltop Hoods are, whether they care to admit it or not, pandering to the Triple J generation. And it isn't a particular 'sound' that is wreaking chart havoc either, because Briggs is about as real as you're ever going to get and he is involved with some serious radio love.
What is most depressing about that music is these guys aren't very good. They don't sound good. They either sound amateurish; as if it's your mate Brendo from the local getting on the mic after a few beers, or in the case of The Hoods and Bliss n Eso, they just do the same thing time and time again.
Coin Banks straddles the gap, because his EP Tails is ready made for radio airplay, but he can actually rap, and he sounds damned good doing it! The third track, Focus, is set off with a real throwback 90s vibe, like something Timbaland would've produced before he could even afford his namesake. Banks throws hands over this, "I'm trying to find my focus / feed my brain like flying lotus / I ain't got time to stop by and admire the roses.. Modern day Otis devoted to writing my opus". It's smoother than the white chocolate ganache I just made. Whilst you're dazzled by his lyrical trickery and technique, the beat morphs from a real 90s heater in to an explosion of mid 00s grandeur, Just Blaze-style.
You see this is what sets Banks apart. He raps about the same stuff everyone else does, but he sounds nice. Real nice. On opener Highs and Lows, featuring a chorus from Anders who is channelling Justin Timberlake hard, he occasionally gets lost in his own theme, 'Guns without clips / bloods without crips', but ultimately he is busking the same message that rappers with their eyes truly open (and humans in general) have running through their core. Life is ups and downs, endure the lows and enjoy the highs. But boy can he ride that beat..
He still has a lot to learn, and that is a given. He is a youngster, and his age in the game can be measured in microns, but his promise is epic. On the second track, Cursive, he proves his worth with a shrewd Q-Tip sample in a nod to true heads, before jumping feet first in to teenage love back and forth. Cursive is exactly why you cannot compare Australian emcees to our US counterparts. Banks has this unmolested world view. I'd stop well short of calling it naive, because it isn't, it comes from a genuine place. "Girl come from a world different from mine, but we make a team like Pippen and Mike". Whereas Joey Bada$$ or Mac Miller would've turned that line in to a negative dripping with dry humour, if Banks were to do that he'd be labelled a fraud. Many aussie rappers have tried, and failed. Instead, Banks forges ahead in his own lane, "no diggity doubt / she's my epiphany / but I write in grafitti whilst she writes in caligraphy". That's just nice, no matter how you read it, but when it comes out of Banks' mouth so in tune with the beat it's a real hip hop moment.
Tails falls down because it's 5 original tracks that all sound similar, all come in around the same length, and all follow the same structure. On Cursive he goes back and forth with Apani B Fly, and his sing song way of stringing words together makes me wonder whether he'd be better served attempting a few hooks himself. Anders is high quality, but it's just another way Banks could impose his personality on the track. At the moment, we are getting sun sun and more sun from him. And it's real nice, especially coming in to summer, this could be a top down staple. By the time the LP comes, though, we need more. He's technically dazzling, his flow is incredibly solid, and his choice of production is excellent. There's more to this story though.