EP Review | Stu Bangas – Beats & Blood

This extended play was released on January 3rd this year. Stu Bangas is a producer that I’ve been aware of for a while, but I didn’t really become that familiar with his work until I listened to the EP that he produced for Ill Bill last year, Cannibal Hulk. I ended up being pretty satisfied with that project, and when I saw the announcement of this project late last year, I was intrigued. I was under the assumption that it’d just be a collection of instrumentals, but that’s not the case here at all. I was even more excited to check this project out once I saw the list of features all over this thing. This is a pre-listen preamble, so I haven’t heard the project yet. I think I’m gonna really enjoy this thing though. I’m expecting greatness. Honestly, I won’t be surprised if it ends up being an early contender for EP of the year. I’m not gonna set myself up for disappointment though. I’m cautiously optimistic. Oh, by the way, Stu Bangas also released two other projects last year after the Ill Bill collab. The first one was called Beat Punisher, and I think it’s just an instrumental album. The second one is called Discernment, and it’s an EP; I’m not sure if it’s just instrumentals or if it features other artists. I plan on checking those out, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet. I’m reviewing this latest project because I’m trying my best to stay on top of 2020 releases. I’ll definitely listen to the other two at some point though.

1. Open the Lane featuring Ty Farris

This ended up being my second favorite song on the entire project. The beat sounded kinda flat to me at first, but the synth that comes in after the first few seconds makes it much more enjoyable. I really love how hard-hitting the percussion is as well. Ty Farris fucking slaughtered this shit too.

Do the math, Ruger blast
Like I passed the shootin’ class
Top of the list when poppin’ the fifth
Scuba divin’ with new vagina & tropical fish
Won’t even convo if it ain’t dollars & cents

The beat ended up being far more detailed than I initially expected it to be. The way the synths are layered sounds very nice. The hook is cool too, and both of the verses on the song are fantastic. I love this shit. I think this song is fucking fire. It’s dope af.

2. The Healing Remedy featuring Vic Spencer

I’ve never listened to a full project from Vic Spencer, but I usually enjoy hearing him on features. The beat here is much smoother and more luxurious sounding than that of the preceding song. I’m not crazy about it personally. I don’t think it’s bad at all, but I probably wouldn’t listen to the instrumental version; it’s a bit too simplistic and repetitive for my taste. Again, I haven’t listened to much of Vic Spencer’s work, but he kinda caught me off guard here. I didn’t remember his voice being this deep for whatever reason. He sounds very intimidating here. I enjoyed his verse on this track. He rhymes well, but none of the bars really stand out as being super quotable for me. With that said, he sounds very good here, and I’m definitely satisfied with his performance. The hook is nice too. I wasn’t crazy about the production, and I wasn’t blown away by Vic’s work here, but I think the song is greater than the sum of its parts. The track is pretty good overall.

3. Inherit the Earth featuring Mr. Lif & Nowaah the Flood

I like Mr. Lif a lot, but I hadn’t actually heard Nowaah the Flood rap before listening to this song. I’d seen his name before though. I think he released a project with DirtyDiggs last year if I’m not mistaken. I may be wrong about that though. Anyway, I really love the villainous and menacing production on this track. I feel like MF DOOM would fit over it perfectly. The first verse from Mr. Lif is amazing too. He was rhyming his fuckin’ ass off. I unfortunately wasn’t as impressed by Nowaah’s verse, but he’s not bad. I think the verse was cool, but I’m just not really into his voice at all unfortunately. I don’t know how to describe it, but I just wish there was a bit more bass in his voice. He sounds kinda like Meyhem Lauren, except more out of shape. Certain people like Meyhem Lauren and Action Bronson have voices that just make it sound like it’s difficult for them to speak, and this dude certainly falls in that category in my opinion. I think his verse was good, but Mr. Lif obviously had the more entertaining performance in my opinion. I also like the record scratches on the hook. This shit is dope.

4. Keeping Time featuring Juga-Naut

This beat sounds more traditional than all the others up to this point in my opinion. I think I like it more than all of them except the first beat. It’s relatively smooth, but not super chill; it’s still got some grit to it. I wasn’t familiar with Juga-Naut before hearing his performance here. He’s from the UK, but he’s apparently worked with artists like SONNYJIM and Giallo Point in the past. Anyway, the hook on this track is pretty nice, and I enjoyed the first verse, but for some reason I feel like I couldn’t really understand a lot of what he was saying because of the accent. Well, that’s not really… I mean, I definitely understood most of what he said, but I feel like I missed a lot for some reason. He said something about shitting diamonds and splitting diamonds, and… Something about being draped in foxes after taking stuff from boxes… I don’t fuckin’ know. I feel like there’s a disconnect for some reason. I don’t know if it’s because it’s just phrasing that I’m not used to hearing or if he’s using UK slang, but I just don’t really know what the hell he’s talking about. I liked the line about popping rockets at your stocking cap though. That was cool. The second verse was definitely more understandable for me.

I set the record straight
Checkmate at a record rate
Check my mates, and inspect the crates
I’m the best recorded to date
I’m taking all this for myself and hanging portraits of greats
James Gandolfini, James Baldwin, and James Brown
Different art forms with the same crown

I don’t know why this was such a strange listen for me because it’s objectively very traditional stuff. I guess I’m just not used to UK Hip Hop because the only UK artists that I really listen to that I can think of at the moment are Little Simz, Slick Rick and Dizzee Rascal lol. This shit is dope though; I definitely fuck with this.

5. Gideon featuring Recognize Ali & Blacastan

I know of Recognize Ali, but I haven’t listened to any of his solo work in the past. I’ve only heard him on features, but I usually enjoy him. I really liked him on King Magnetic’s Everything Happens 4 a Reason album. I’m personally more familiar with Blacastan, since he’s a member of the Demigodz and Army of the Pharaohs. Anyway, the beat on this track is relatively gritty, and definitely fits in with the “bloody” theme of the project. This would’ve fit in perfectly with the rest of the Cannibal Hulk album. The first verse from Recognize Ali is fucking awesome. His bars are pure evil, and gangsta as fuck.

I swear these niggas bitchmade
Let the fifth spray when the god is gettin’ paid
Switchblades in your ribcage
Since fifth grade I been gettin’ bread like a fish bait

Blacastan’s verse was pretty nice too, but I was definitely more entertained by Ali’s performance from a lyrical standpoint. However, I prefer Blacastan’s voice and delivery. This shit is fire. I do think that it could’ve ended a little stronger, but overall this is one of the best songs on the project in my opinion. It’s dope af.

6. Sound the Horns featuring Verbal Kent

I know Verbal Kent through his work with Ugly Heroes, but I haven’t heard any of his solo work. I actually don’t even know if he’s released any solo work to be honest. Anyway, as the title implies, this beat incorporates horns, and it sounds really good. Verbal Kent’s voice sounds way grittier and more aggressive than I remember it being. His delivery sounds less angry and raspy on the actual verse than it does on the hook though. The hook honestly makes him sound kinda Sean Price-ish. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to hearing him over the smooth production from Apollo Brown rather than this kind of aggressive style that Stu Bangas has. Anyway, I thought his performance here was really great.

I’m rapid fire
Rap with desire and hate
Grab a pair of pliers
Apply ’em to fire
Then up to your eye and yank
I have the strength of an iron tank

I like this song a lot; both of the verses are really dope, and I think he sounds great over this beat. The beat itself is cool in this song, but I don’t think I’d be that entertained by this if Kent wasn’t spitting over it. The song is pretty dope overall.

7. Prayers Up featuring Phybaoptikz

I was not familiar with Phybaoptikz at all before hearing this song, but I think he has a really cool stage name. He’s another UK rapper, so I guess that explains why I’d never heard of him. Unfortunately, this ended up being the only song on the project that I didn’t care for. Again, sometimes I can get into UK Hip Hop, but this dude’s accent is a bit too thick for me. The beat is pretty great to be honest, but the way this dude sounds over it just really throws me off. For some reason the song made me think of Drake. I don’t think this is bad, but I’d be lying if I said I ever wanted to hear this again. I definitely like the production a lot though. It’s an okay track, but I’m not gonna listen to this ever again. If anything, I’d just take the instrumental version. By the way, the instrumentals are available to those who pre-ordered this project. Did I already mention that? I don’t think I did…

8. Beats & Blood featuring Celph Titled

This is the track that I was most excited for because I love Celph Titled. Honestly, I genuinely think that Celph Titled has my favorite voice in Hip Hop, and this shit did not disappoint one bit. It has another menacing beat that would’ve fit in perfectly on Cannibal Hulk. Celph Titled’s voice is so fucking perfect too, man. He sounds amazing on this shit. He fucking killed it.

Think I’m playin’ then the jokes on you
How am I harmless when I harness Satan in the vocal booth?
Knock, knock; no, it ain’t no fuckin’ girl scout cookies
It’s me, swingin’ katanas; stunt-double for Sho Kusugi

He killed both of his verses on this shit, and I love the record scratches on the hook. I fucking love this shit. I think it’s amazing. 😀

This EP is pretty great. Honestly, I really don’t have any consistent gripes with it. I don’t think any of the beats are bad, although I will say that some of them wouldn’t be particularly enjoyable to me as instrumentals. The beat that Vic Spencer rapped over is my least favorite on the project, but he did a nice job over it, so I still ended up liking the song. I wasn’t really expecting the two tracks with UK artists, but I did really enjoy one of them. The other one wasn’t that great to me, but it wasn’t bad either. It’s just not my cup of tea. Other than that, I think this shit is really fucking dope. Stu Bangas thankfully affiliates himself with a lot of very talented MCs, and I think he put together a very enjoyable extended play here. Check it out.

Favorite Song: Beats & Blood
Least Favorite Song: Prayers Up


Grade: B+

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