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Maxo Kream|Brandon Banks

Brandon Banks

Maxo Kream

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A tradition forged over industry history, the major-label transition is often the make-or-break moment for a rising artist. With commercial pressure looming, many artists are coerced into downplaying what makes them unique, stripping singularity in favor of mass appeal. Of course this has mixed results: while many artists find their place in mainstream culture, just as many fall by the wayside, frustrating long-time listeners.
Fortunately for Houston-born rapper Maxo Kream, his RCA deal has not soured his style. There are a couple of radio-ready features -- Travis Scott limply croons "The Relays," while A$AP Ferg meanders on the thumping "Murda Blocc" -- but they're quickly forgotten amid the project's mix of no-nonsense storytelling and pounding trap, the sounds on which Kream has built his name. Instead, a higher budget produces a greater range of instrumentation; from the warped orchestration of "Bissonet" to the Rich Brian-esque "Brothers," Brandon Banks' beats are consistently fresh-sounding and apt in mood.
Of course, Kream's staple storytelling is present. The rapper's best narratives have always addressed wider issues through a grounded, personal lens, and Brandon Banks is no exception: "8 Figures" critiques obsession through anecdotes of personal struggle, while "Brenda" discusses single motherhood in the same manner as its 2Pac namesake. This even makes for one of the album's highlights on standout "Meet Again," where a poignant letter to incarcerated friends covers broad strokes of street violence, broken families, and kinship.
Building on the family-centric lyrics of 2018's Punken, Brandon Banks also gives greater insight into Kream's father, who used the eponymous alias throughout his life. Far from a saccharine homage, the album's paternal exploration is a series of ups and downs, with Kream addressing his father's absence, gambling addiction, and infidelity as well as his dedication to his children. Each of these points is explored through the rapper's own experience: the character of Brandon Banks becomes the album's lens, with Kream's own experiences juxtaposed against a poignant context.
The result is a release that pushes toward something greater. While Brandon Banks retains Kream's choice narratives, rotating flows, and grounded persona, its paternal overtone is a consistent negotiation, holding the Houston rapper in his forbear's shadows at every turn. While some of the edges have been smoothed out, the result is a breath of fresh air; with clean, precise production and his father's influence looming large, Brandon Banks proves one of Kream's most compelling releases.

© David Crone /TiVo

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Brandon Banks

Maxo Kream

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1
Meet Again Explicit
00:05:20

Mike Dean, Composer, Lyricist, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Teej, Producer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Producer - Afolabi Osinulu, Composer, Lyricist - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Patrick P. Adams, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Bissonnet Explicit
00:02:23

Angelo Bond, Composer, Lyricist - Kelvin, AdditionalStudioProducer - Teej, AdditionalStudioProducer - Iain Findlay, Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kal Banx, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Brandon Banks, Composer, Lyricist - Afolabi Osinulu, Composer, Lyricist - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

3
Change Explicit
00:03:47

Samuel Jimenez, Composer, Lyricist - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Smash David, Producer - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Felipe Spain, Composer, Lyricist, Co-Producer

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
The Relays Explicit
00:02:57

Chad Butler, Composer, Lyricist - Bernard Freeman, Composer, Lyricist - Barry White, Composer, Lyricist - Josh White, Composer, Lyricist - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Travis Scott, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jacques Webster, Composer, Lyricist - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - D.A. Doman, Producer - David L. Doman, Composer, Lyricist - Joey Galvan, Recording Engineer - Afolabi Osinulu, Composer, Lyricist - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Maxo Kream feat. Travis Scott, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Torpey, Composer, Lyricist - Ryan "Mellow" Venable, Engineer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
8 Figures Explicit
00:04:05

Mike Dean, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Iain Findlay, Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - D.A. Doman, Producer - David L. Doman, Composer, Lyricist - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Apex Martin, Producer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Eliot Dean Baker, Composer, Lyricist - Christina Gandy-Rodgers, Composer, Lyricist - Aston Harris, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

6
She Live Explicit
00:02:49

Mike Dean, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Teej, Producer - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Megan Thee Stallion, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Megan Pete, Composer, Lyricist - Afolabi Osinulu, Composer, Lyricist - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Maxo Kream feat. Megan Thee Stallion, AssociatedPerformer - Joshua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
Drizzy Draco Explicit
00:02:35

Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Ryan ESL, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

8
3AM Explicit
00:02:58

Paul Beauregard, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Dean, Composer, Lyricist - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Schoolboy Q, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Chuck Inglish, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - Evan Ingersoll, Composer, Lyricist - Maxo Kream, Composer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Producer, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Quincey Hanley, Composer, Lyricist - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Apex Martin, Producer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Maxo Kream feat. ScHoolboy Q, AssociatedPerformer - Aston Harris, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
Spice Ln. Explicit
00:03:22

Zaytoven, Producer - Xavier Dotson, Composer, Lyricist - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

10
Murda Blocc Explicit
00:03:06

Charles Ryan Smith, Composer, Lyricist - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - A$AP Ferg, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Darold Brown, Composer, Lyricist - Ryan ESL, Producer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Maxo Kream feat. A$AP Ferg, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

11
Pray 2 The Dope Explicit
00:03:31

Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - D.A. Doman, Producer - David L. Doman, Composer, Lyricist - Joey Galvan, Recording Engineer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Aeb Byrne, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

12
Brenda Explicit
00:03:04

Kelvin, AdditionalStudioProducer - Teej, AdditionalStudioProducer - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Iain Findlay, Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Kal Banx, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Afolabi Osinulu, Composer, Lyricist - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

13
Brothers Explicit
00:03:03

Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Iain Findlay, Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Supah Mario, Producer - DeMario Priester, Composer, Lyricist - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Brandon Banks, Composer, Lyricist - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - Joshua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist - KCG Josh, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Maxo Kream feat. KCG Josh, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

14
Dairy Ashford Bastard Explicit
00:02:12

Teej, Producer - Jess Jackson, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Iain Findlay, Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Dean #MWA, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Brandon Banks, Composer, Lyricist - Afolabi Osinulu, Composer, Lyricist - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

15
Still Explicit
00:02:25

Iain Findlay, Engineer - Maxo Kream, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Maddox Chhim, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Chase Rose, Composer, Lyricist - Joey Galvan, Engineer - Brandon Banks, Composer, Lyricist - ChaseTheMoney, Producer - Rafael Fadul, Assistant Engineer - Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2019 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Album review

A tradition forged over industry history, the major-label transition is often the make-or-break moment for a rising artist. With commercial pressure looming, many artists are coerced into downplaying what makes them unique, stripping singularity in favor of mass appeal. Of course this has mixed results: while many artists find their place in mainstream culture, just as many fall by the wayside, frustrating long-time listeners.
Fortunately for Houston-born rapper Maxo Kream, his RCA deal has not soured his style. There are a couple of radio-ready features -- Travis Scott limply croons "The Relays," while A$AP Ferg meanders on the thumping "Murda Blocc" -- but they're quickly forgotten amid the project's mix of no-nonsense storytelling and pounding trap, the sounds on which Kream has built his name. Instead, a higher budget produces a greater range of instrumentation; from the warped orchestration of "Bissonet" to the Rich Brian-esque "Brothers," Brandon Banks' beats are consistently fresh-sounding and apt in mood.
Of course, Kream's staple storytelling is present. The rapper's best narratives have always addressed wider issues through a grounded, personal lens, and Brandon Banks is no exception: "8 Figures" critiques obsession through anecdotes of personal struggle, while "Brenda" discusses single motherhood in the same manner as its 2Pac namesake. This even makes for one of the album's highlights on standout "Meet Again," where a poignant letter to incarcerated friends covers broad strokes of street violence, broken families, and kinship.
Building on the family-centric lyrics of 2018's Punken, Brandon Banks also gives greater insight into Kream's father, who used the eponymous alias throughout his life. Far from a saccharine homage, the album's paternal exploration is a series of ups and downs, with Kream addressing his father's absence, gambling addiction, and infidelity as well as his dedication to his children. Each of these points is explored through the rapper's own experience: the character of Brandon Banks becomes the album's lens, with Kream's own experiences juxtaposed against a poignant context.
The result is a release that pushes toward something greater. While Brandon Banks retains Kream's choice narratives, rotating flows, and grounded persona, its paternal overtone is a consistent negotiation, holding the Houston rapper in his forbear's shadows at every turn. While some of the edges have been smoothed out, the result is a breath of fresh air; with clean, precise production and his father's influence looming large, Brandon Banks proves one of Kream's most compelling releases.

© David Crone /TiVo

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