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Anything But Words

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Album Review

Cross-genre collaborations don't always land as expected. When combining riffs and rhymes, there's a high risk that descriptors like "rap-rock" and even "nu-metal" will creep up to cloud objectivity, recalling ghosts from the late '90s. On Anything But Words, the debut effort from Banks & Steelz, two seemingly disparate forces mesh so well that it sounds like they were meant to be together all along. In 2013, Interpol frontman and self-professed hip-hop head Paul Banks was introduced to Wu-Tang Clan head RZA, and after connecting, they formed a new project named after the main talents (one of RZA's alter egos is Bobby Steels). Banks brought his baritone and nocturnal post-punk guitar handiwork while RZA injected his pristine hip-hop production skills and aggressive rhymes. The project benefits both men: Banks hasn't sounded this good over a tight rhythm since Carlos D. took his bass and left Interpol, and RZA — invigorated and bursting with passion — hasn't spit this hard in almost a decade. They elevate each other over 12 tracks that never lose momentum. The album starts hard and fast, with a one-two-three kick-off that justifies the whole Banks & Steelz concept. "Giant" is the aptly titled first track, which sets the tone with an intensely earnest RZA, a propulsive beat, and a soaring chorus by Banks. It glimmers with programmed effects and polish courtesy of producers John Hill and Kid Harpoon. After the glitchy gem "Ana Electronic," the bass-heavy "Sword in the Stone" brings the heat, a jagged, menacing beast that features a standout verse from Kool Keith and production from Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow, Bruno Mars, Beck). Unexpected guest Florence Welch lends her ethereal vocals to "Wild Season," which may sound like one too many cooks in this sonic kitchen but ends up being a highlight of the album. After an energetic and exciting first half, Anything But Words slows down and adopts a near-trip-hop energy. The cool funk of "Conceal" undulates and seduces while "Can't Hardly Feel" pops like a chilled-out Faithless track. The creeping "One by One," another highlight, channels Massive Attack on a moody, slow-burning hypnotizer. Being a RZA production, it's only natural that a few friends dropped by the recording session. Wu-Tang fans will rejoice over the inclusion of a trio of welcome voices: Ghostface Killah brings his formidable flow to "Love and War," while Method Man and Masta Killa close the album on "Point of View." Anything But Words is a stellar and truly collaborative endeavor between two creative energies, the result of an organic songwriting process that is anything but thrown together. ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Everything is Changing

In a way, I've been waiting for this album - for this particular collision - my entire life. As Banks says on the opening track, "everything is changing..."

Existential, gothic romance meets deep, hard-won street knowledge... For me personally, it's a conversation I've been having in my head for a very long time. Everything is changing.

Giant, the opening track, looms like one. It's a song that wants to lure Interpol stalwarts into that now, all too comfortable dreamworld of ill-fated lovers and hapless calamities. But then Steelz is there, rough as a razors, dark as night and - all praise be to the great god of beatz - it doesn't feel forced. It could even feel new.

It may be "cold outside" for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga but for Banks & Steelz, I think it's going to be AITCH OH TEE.

This record could end up being brilliant or it could be straight-up garbage. Either way, it's obvious they enjoyed making it. The collaboration itself may hold significance as well. Of course it's not the first time rockers and rappers have put it down on wax but, this feels a bit more challenging than Walk This Way or Judgement Night.

Yeah, everything is changing.


I pre Ordered this album thanks to Mr. Throwback Thursday. Check out their podcast right here on Itunes. This Album wont disapoint if you like old school hip hop with a flair of new age. So far all of the available tracks are awesome, can't wait for the rest of the album.

Good Collision

This album is really a fascinating hybrid between two virtually unrelated artists. It is a tasteful combination of wisdom and enticing lyrics that sound a deep feeling in one's soul and that is what music is all about, soul.


Formed: 2013 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

The project of Wu-Tang Clan's RZA and Interpol's Paul Banks, Banks & Steelz balances chilly post-punk and hard-hitting hip-hop in ways that are equally indebted to and distinct from its members' past work. Banks, a longtime hip-hop fan, released his own rap mixtape, Everybody on My Dick Like They Supposed to Be, in 2013, the same year he and RZA began working as Banks & Steelz. RZA, meanwhile, only knew of Interpol by name until his manager, a fan of the band, introduced him to Banks. The pair hit...
Full Bio

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Anything But Words, Banks & Steelz
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