Ever since the Hip-Hop genre began, Rap collectives have been an integral part of the art-form. Hip-Hop groups such as The Furious Five and The Juice Crew in the 80’s and the Boot Camp Clik and Wu-Tang Clan in the 90’s showed that a varied mix of skills and styles are an intrinsic part of Hip-Hop culture. Over the noughties however, this trend was slowly eroded, and the focus on the individual became the norm within the mainstream. Thankfully, over the last few years we’ve had a slow revival of the Hip-Hop collective, but whereas groups like Pro Era and The Underachievers seem to be going for a more “enlightened” message and style, what’s still missing from contemporary Hip-Hop cliques is a genuine hardcore aesthetic, especially from the East Coast scene. Thankfully we now have Bankai Fam, a collective of Brooklynites with a hardcore sound, and if you miss that raw, unadulterated Hip-Hop music from the mid 90’s, their style (which is a mixture of 100X, Moorish Delta 7, and Derelict Camp) will definitely appeal to you.
Bankai Fam consists of Big BizNess, El Gee, Gangsta, G. Stats, Haz Diggz, Low Banga, P. General, Phenom, Shatike, Skanks, and Top Notch, and each rapper brings their own unique style to the table. Their nine track EP “On My Side” dropped in 2013, but for something so refreshing, I was surprised it didn’t garner a bigger buzz; I guess that’s just the way it goes when we have a corrupt entertainment industry. The album begins with the title track, a posse cut showcasing almost every member’s skills. With Skanks giving an effortless flow and some comedic punchlines and G. Stats giving a slower delivery and gruff voice, their styles are the most memorable and unique, and both rappers have since released solo albums. Despite these solo releases however, nobody seems to have promoted either LP in the mainstream. Hopefully when Bankai Fam release a full-length album, the masses will finally get behind them.
With a retro, throwback trend taking over most of contemporary music, the obligatory early-to-mid 90’s sound makes it onto a few of the tracks on this EP. From the glockenspiel in “Only God” to the xylophone in “Move On”, the production from Jupiter A.K.A. is an enjoyable mix of the old and new, and it compliments the group’s vocals throughout the album. The stand-out track in my opinion is definitely “Never Run Away” with its production reminiscent of Baby J and its mean reggae chorus courtesy of Top Notch.
The one criticism I do have, is the fact that some of the songs on the EP don’t quite stand out from each other and aren’t completely memorable. With the exception of the catchy choruses in “Move On” and “Never Run Away”, some of the tracks don’t stick out at you once you’ve finished listening to the whole album. Hopefully when a full-length LP drops, the tracks will be more distinguishable. Having said that, “On My Side” is definitely worth a listen, especially if you miss that good ol’ street-oriented music from the Golden Era.
Most people would agree that Hip-Hop is now a pussy-whipped version of itself; a horrid, tacky, corny, Disco-esque mess. If you showed a Rap fan in 1994 what Hip-Hop would look and sound like in 2014 they’d be horrified. Thankfully we still have an underground Hip-Hop movement, and if people only got behind the genuine and credible shit we could finally take this genre back from all the lame fakes and make Hip-Hop great again. Imagine if a record label like Loud still existed. If a mainstream label promoted this kind of Hip-Hop in the same way they used to back in the day; we’d have a resurgence of Real Hip-Hop within a matter of months.
Take the Crown back to its Heights.