“Brandon Banks” review: Maxo Kream keeps getting better on major label debut

It’s always a good day in music when an artist that you genuinely like releases a new project. Today is one of those days for me, as Houston’s Maxo Kream has released his major label debut Brandon Banks after a year and a half between projects. 

According to Kream himself, the project is supposed to follow his dad’s life as a criminal. Brandon Banks, real name Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, is said to have used the former as a fake name while participating in criminal activities. I’m not sure how Maxo is gonna pull off an album based around that, but I’m excited to find out! 

If you haven’t already, check out my artist spotlight of Maxo Kream before reading this review and listening to the album. It’ll give you a little more info on him as an artist and some of his most notable music up to this point. Let’s dig into this album! 

First impressions

The Good: After my first listen through the album, I think it is up there with Maxo’s best. Each track is quality and enjoyable in its own way. There are street bangers and many tracks that tell stories from his life, which ends up being a good balance.  

The Bad: Even though each song is very good, sometimes it feels like Maxo strayed from the theme of the project a bit. The project is apparently supposed to be about his dad’s life, but some of the tracks are generic trap bangers that don’t have anything to do with that. 

Lyrics/Flow

The Good: As with his older music, Maxo Kream is still an amazing storyteller and can break out the flows and authentic lyrics at will. Most of the tracks on the album contain stories about his life that kept me engaged. Most of the hooks on this project are done by Kream himself and he did a great job on them. I think Maxo has found his lane as a lyrical trapper that can also bust out amazing hooks quite often. 

The Bad: Even though most of the tracks on this album are memorable in their own way, that doesn’t mean that they are perfect. On this album, we hear Maxo bring out a few new flows here and there but most of it is a sound we’ve heard from him before in terms of rapping style. That isn’t a huge knock especially since the lyrics really stand out even if the flows are similar to what we’ve heard before.  

Score: 8.3/10

Beats

The Good: This is the section that I’ve been waiting for. After listening to this project multiple times, I’m still amazed at how good the beats sound. Maxo fits very well over all of them and none of them sound out of place. The beats have been a big highlight on his previous projects and he does not disappoint here. 

The Bad: As I said, the beats on this project are great. Maxo picked stuff that he has shown he sounds great on, but he didn’t really try anything new. I’m very surprised about that, especially because this is the same guy that went in over beats like “Big Worm” and “Grannies”. I hope he’ll continue to experiment with different sounds in the future because that’s something that I really enjoy from him.  

Score: 8.7/10

Replayability

The Good: When I write this section, I use a few different factors as my criteria. I look at the total runtime of the album, the number of tracks, and how I’m feeling after multiple listens. This album gets an A in all of those above sections because it’s that good. I’d suggest you listen to it if you like authentic street rap. You should enjoy it and possibly find a new rapper to follow. 

The Bad: The only negative I can see for the replayability of this album is that if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t listen to the lyrics as much as the beats, you might not enjoy it for multiple listens. Maxo Kream is a rapper that requires your full attention, so I suggest you give it to him while listening to this project for maximum enjoyment.  

Score: 8/10

Standouts

I usually say that this section is hard to write, especially when a project is chock full of great songs. It’s the exact same situation for this great album. But if I had to choose some tracks that stand out from the rest, they would be “Meet Again”, “Change”, “Brenda”, and “Dairy Ashford Bastard”.  

Final thoughts

One of the things that I struggle with the most in music is when an artist doesn’t get the shine that they deserve. Maxo Kream is definitely one of those artists that I feel doesn’t get the attention that he has earned. He has put out quality project after quality project over the years, and Brandon Banks is yet another great entry to his discography. 

Before this album came out, I was very excited for it but also curious as to what direction Maxo would go in after the great Punken in 2018. This new album met nearly every expectation that I came in to it with. It showed us that Maxo hasn’t lost his touch and still looks to improve as time goes on. He is still as sharp as ever with the flows and storytelling. The only thing that he didn’t really do on this project was continue his evolution with interesting beats that aren’t the norm. Regardless, I’m really happy with the project.

I won’t say that Brandon Banks is a perfect project, because it isn’t. It has its flaws here and there like most other albums, that’s for sure. But I will say that it is near the best of 2019 thus far. The sheer realness that Maxo Kream brings is nearly unmatched in hip hop today and I really enjoy it. I’d recommend checking this album out because Maxo is truly something special in this genre. 

Final Score: 8.3/10


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