Sir Michael Rocks - Banco

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Sir Michael Rocks shrouds some of his trademark oddity in stock cuts and sheer confidence, but "Banco" remains an entertaining album nonetheless.

Often the case with innovation, pioneers go less remembered with later adapters reaping greater financial rewards and acclaim once successful business models are set in place. In the instance of Hip Hop’s Digital Age, TDE’s camp has eased their way into somewhat of an industry takeover while their predecessors continue mapping out blueprints from a few steps behind. Along with U-N-I (Thurz and Yonas Michael) and Pac Div, The Cool Kids are a prime example of those to make an impact during Internet Rap’s infancy who have yet to arrive at a true breakout moment. Going separate creative paths, Chuck Inglish has remained a relatively low-key producer while Sir Michael Rocks has seemingly shifted his focus. His aspirations developing him into an archetype for the current climate of information overload, Banco is Sir Michael Rocks’ first go at leaving the free mixtape circuit to sell his work.

Formerly walking amongst tastemakers, Sir Michael Rocks faces the challenge of maintaining a presence and keeping pace within a changing scene. With admiration for his solo work stemming from a knack for setting an atmospheric vibe, Banco bets against the odds as Michael’s hometown of Chicago is now defined by two sounds: the angst driven Drill movement and soulful alternatives such as Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper. Matching neither style, he shows love to Windy City forefathers Do Or Die on the smoothed out “Some Ish.” An otherwise respectable celebration of his roots, he employs the exhausted strategy of seeking a Twista feature when seeking to represent the Midwest. In this case, the plan may be trite, but the execution is still done skillfully.

Most mainstream oriented emcees carry themselves with an air of arrogance, and the former Mikey Rocks is no different here. He vacillates between a self-referential stream of consciousness (the likely byproduct of his method of half-freestyled rhymes) and flexing swagger to the point of exaggeration. Though overly narcissistic, his second nature is a youthful energy that can’t be denied. “Memo” places a tricked out spin on Madvillain’s “Accordion,” suggesting Michael (a self-professed anime enthusiast whose rhymes reference the RPG genre of video games) is secretly more eclectic than he’s willing to display on this particular record. Catering to multiple crowds, the widespread collaboration on Banco make it difficult to figure out exactly where his creative allegiances lie. Young winners Casey Veggies and IamSu! show up to salute fast women on “Bussin,” while “Kill Switch” boils down to needlessly loud and violent fantasy with forgettable upstarts Robb Banks and Pouya bringing little to the table. The greatest surprise comes by way of “Lost Boys,” an ode of sorts to the Wild West as Trinidad James unexpectedly steals the show. Recorded while his buzz was stronger, this redemption for James’ otherwise lackluster career to date is masterminded by Mac Miller who co-stars in the booth and on the production side.

Having grown up inches from the spotlight, Sir Michael Rocks redesigns his image as the long anticipated Banco is his official debut attempting professional self-agency. His most glaring creative flaw is resorting to commonplace tropes, especially given how left of field he’s demonstrated he can be both as a soloist and a member of the Cool Kids. “Ain’t Nothin’ Like” evidences this, as he and his partner Chuck Inglish latch onto DJ Mustard’s wave (with the help of OG philanderer Too Short) aiming to craft a simplistic club banger so as to fit in with the times. A hero to the ADD generation, he risks confusing his built-in audience as “Fuck Seaworld” best draws comparison to Lil B’s trademark non-sequitirs. The choice of shrouding his trademark oddity in stock cuts and sheer confidence is a curious one, but Banco remains entertaining for the most part. Sir Michael Rocks gets by without saying much or offering anything particularly introspective because of a sometimes excellent presentation. But until these faults are addressed it’s hard to envision him elevating past the cusp of stardom.

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31 Comments

  • ddookie

    this is just doo doo

  • Vee

    Dopest fucking shit everrrrrrrrr

  • Dylan Rapp

    Sir Michael Rocks went from charmander to charizard on Banco making it the album of the year. It's the most visual, artistic album I've heard that paints many pictures the more and more you listen to it. From the cover art, to the digital booklet, the videos he put out and singles he dropped that lead up to the release, the skits, the production, the features, his style, especially the order of the track list & the timing of it all fell right into place. You can tell he was really involved with his 1st LP & took his time making it his best work to date. Sir Michael Rocks is a special artist no one can duplicate or copy, which he has always been hip hop's best trendsetter & has always lead & has never followed. He knows how to have fun with his music & be himself unlike a lot of artists today. You know every rapper ran to the studio after hearing BANCO!

  • DeAndre Owens

    Amazing album.

  • Ill

    Sir Mike is the smartest lyricist and has the ILLEST style Ive ever seen. Best beats, best features, but so low key it makes me wonder sometimes... Oh well. This album is a 5!

  • Panther

    'Banco' is a fucking classic. Unconcerned with fleeting trends, impressing peers, and basically doing what everyone else is doing; Sir Michael, after a solid run of mixtapes, has finally come into his own. Been a huge fan since 2008 Cool Kids 'Bake Sale' days and seeing him develop into this iconoclastic beast has been a pleasure. This odd, shamanistic-final fantasy character-vaporware-pussy-assassin thing that he's been toying with the past couple years is fully developed on 'Banco' and the album is an idiosyncratic odd-ball island unto-itself. Sir Mike has reached his 5th Chakra on this album where greatness simply comes to him and he's just channeling it. This is watching a master at work.

  • JG

    "Hoping I can surface before the beasts start to smell me" Its all fire, stay you and maybe produce more beats, the bars are always crazy, like since '11, nothing like this "mainstream" shit. Fuck sea world is extra smooth. skits hilarious, Who's that bitch? bitch be quiet

  • Mark Patten

    Original Album that has its own sound

  • Jay Wayne

    The first half of this album was amazing!! Then it abruptly drifts into never never land after drug dealer.. btw can someone please tell me whats soo amazing about playstation 1.5?? That track has some of the most lackadaisical lyrics ever!!!

  • Prez

    Jesse Fairfax is a trash ass writer. Stick to reviewing Dj Khaled and Rick Ross records. You're music opinion is not respected dawg...beat it

  • Nate Burgess

    If Big name artist had these songs they would be getting praised... seems like they take ideas for less known ppl and put their twist on item, then claim its original

  • Ray Freeman

    over everyone's head..

  • Truth

    Not terrible. Not in the same category as Mega Philosophy

  • Anonymous

    Shit is Fire a definite GO needs bigger name people on the next album needs to get known more.

  • balla block

    Album of the year. This site, and anyone who gave this album a shit review need to quit listening to rap. Cool Kids are untouchable; that goes for Mikey and Chuck. *spits on review and the writer's mother.*

  • Young NIgga Bussin

    BANCO dope af

  • Anonymous

    www.soundcloud.com/151becardi

  • Jay

    Fantastic production. Definitely getting more rotation than cool kids material on my iPod already.

  • Delicio$o

    LOL You guys didn't fully listen to the Album; this review needs to burn, it's so awful.

  • Yee

    I agree. Fuck seaworld and playstation 1.5 were 2 of the best tracks imo.

  • staviano

    FIRE! Banco is better than these day... This is another weak ass album review.

    • Bruh

      These Days was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. And Banco is bound to be the most criminally unknown album of the year.

    • What?

      I'm pretty sure it means banco is fire... Then it says that banco is better than these days... (Probably because banco got a 3.5 and these days... Got a 4). Then bruh says that this is another weak album review. What doesn't make sense, son? The fact that the "s" was missing from these days...? I understood it fine. Hahahaha! Banco>these days... IMO

    • ds

      @ anonymous - he meant "these days", the album.

    • Anonymous

      What? Your comment makes no sense--proofread next time, son...

  • Young Beavers

    I read a quote from curren$y saying he liked how you guys always had new ways to say his shit's not good, & had no idea what he was talking about, since you guys aren't like 2dopeboyz or anything, but holy shit whoever wrote this article is an asshole. Bank$ & Pouya aren't "forgettable upstarts", Trinidad's verse was trash, & Fuck Seaworld & Playstation 1.5 were 2 of the most creative songs of the year, flow, lyric & production wise.