Banks and Steelz Anything But Words Warner Bros.
As indicated by the score above, this is a terrible record. But before we get started, let’s just set one thing straight: as the founder and producer of the Wu-Tang Clan during their 93-97 peak, RZA is responsible for some of the greatest music ever committed to record.
In recent times, however, it’s like RZA’s been doing everything he can do break a Wu fan’s heart. As if totally fumbling the production of last year’s Wu-Tang Clan album A Better Tomorrow wasn’t enough to damage the group’s legacy, RZA simultaneously teamed up with obscure Wu hanger-on Cilvaringz to flog Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a press-baiting “one of a kind” album which somehow landed in the hands of a price-hiking pharmaceutical executive whose behaviour is so appalling I can’t even bring myself to type his name. And now, RZA persists with Anything But Words – an awkward indie-rap record made in collaboration with Interpol frontman Paul Banks.
RZA’s been preoccupied with analogue instrumentation for some time, and this isn’t Paul Banks’ first foray into hip-hop. He’s played rap sets as DJ Fancypants, and you may have forgotten Everybody On My Dick Like They Supposed To Be, a mostly-instrumental hip-hop mixtape that was initially supposed to be some kind of ironic press stunt to draw attention to his 2012 solo album.
While neither party comes off looking good, to be fair to RZA, at least he sounds like he’s trying to rap here – for half the record he splutters jagged syllables as if he knows he’s still got something to prove. But then, by obligation, Banks creeps into every track with a whiney hook and dour indie rock guitars, sheepishly steering the musical direction back towards the middle of the road. Let’s just pretend this never happened.