“Civil War” is a mixtape that was released in December last year by Hip-Hop group Bankai Fam, but unfortunately like their début EP “On My Side”, this satisfying example of contemporary Hip-Hop is going unnoticed. “Civil War” is marketed as a mixtape but it’s more like a full-blown album, there’s no badly mastered tracks or freestyles over already heard beats (aside from “Brooklyn Army Of Ninjaz” which is performed over Capone-N-Norega‘s “L.A. L.A.”). For fans of underground Hip-Hop this release is a must.
The mixtape begins with “Urge2Purge” and with Skanks The Rap Martyr delivering the line “You like Trap? My nigga I can’t fuck with that. You say I’m old ’cause I Boom Bap and I don’t Mumble Rap” the mixtape kicks-off like a musical civil war between real and fake Hip-Hop, lyrical rap and mumble rap, or Hip-Hop and Hip-Pop. With much of contemporary rap music being dumbed down and Pop-focussed, when an album or mixtape like this is released it feels like a breath of fresh air.
The production is pretty consistent throughout “Civil War”, even though the beats come from a varied selection of underground producers. The overall sound for this album (and Bankai Fam generally) is a modernised 90s style (think Pro Era blended with Triple Darkness). The stand-out tracks for me are “Urge2Purge”, “Seen A Few Things”, “Bumbaclot”, and “Bulgarian Neck Tie” but there’s many other decent tracks such as the head-nodding “Medina (Remix)” and the political “Civil War”.
One thing I’d say is that with so many members, Bankai Fam really need to showcase or inform us of each member by name, the one problem I have with this and their previous EP is we’re never told who’s who. Skanks even says on “Legion Of Doom” “There’s so many of us it’s hard to remember each member”. Sure you can instantly hear G-Stats’ gruff voice in a song such as “Medina (Remix)”, you can hear Top Notch’s unique reggae style in a track like “Bumbaclot”, and Skanks is always distinguishable by his amusing and slick wordplay (which is reminiscent of The L.O.X.) but other than these three you struggle to work out who’s who. If Bankai Fam properly introduced us to the group like Wu-Tang Clan did in the intro to “Clan In Da Front” and the outro to “Can It Be All So Simple”, it would make their releases more ordered.
Back to the mixtape itself, I have to say that it might be a few tracks too long, it also dips a little from “Wah Lah” to the title track which is the reason it doesn’t get an 8/10. Maybe if the aforementioned “Wah Lah”, “Bad Mon”, and “Cynemattic” were removed, “Civil War” would be a more rounded release, but other than that that, this mixtape is a satisfying listen. While I’m in a critical mood, I’d also add that “Cynemattic” doesn’t gel with the rest of the songs (in terms of sound and content). In addition, “Pool Full Of Sharks” is way too short given the decent production, there’s also a few other very short songs including “The Real Is Back” and “Wah Lah” which if extended or removed the album would work much better. In my opinion the mixtape should have ended with “Bulgarian Neck Tie”, a posse cut similar to M.F.C.’s “Gang’s All Here” or Black Opz’ “Opz Interrogation”, the group could also have used this song to introduce the listener to each rapper.
With an impressive début EP and now a solid mixtape-slash-album, Bankai Fam really needs to get promoted by underground and independent media. Hip-Hop fans too need to get behind this group, like I said in my review for “On My Side”, if the people who complain about contemporary Hip-Hop bought this mixtape, shared the link, and supported the group, we’d get some way to taking the genre back from all the lames out there fucking up the art form.
Hip-Hop’s Civil War.