Album Review | Teller Bank$ – The Pen for Whom the Sword Moves

This album was released on March 22nd this year. Teller Bank$ released one of my favorite albums of 2020 with The Grotesque & Beautiful, so naturally I’m expecting this latest project to be one of the better releases of 2021. The main difference that I noticed right off the bat is that instead of Ed Glorious taking care of the production, Teller Bank$ handled all of the beats himself. I’ve never heard any of Teller Bank$’s original production unless I’m mistaken, so I’m kinda going into this blind. I’m excited though. I think I’m really gonna dig this.

There aren’t any tracks on this album that I don’t care for, so I’ll write about the full project in the proper order of the tracklist. The album begins with For Whom. I really like how dramatic, spacey, and washed out the production on this track is. I wanna say it sounds like something that Drake would cry over, but it’s a bit too tense-sounding for that. This is really the kinda track that could only work as an intro or an interlude though because the structure is so simplistic that there’s not much going on apart from the verse itself; Bank$ is just rapping the entire time with no hook or anything. The verse is really dope though. I loved that line about how he fucks bitches like his life depends on it. That made me laugh. The song isn’t supposed to be funny though. It’s got a very serious, kind of desolate tone, which I appreciated. I think it’s really dope. Track 2 is called 7 Deadly Sins. The beat on this one sounds a lot more melodic than that of the opening track. It’s really dope. The opening verse is really great too.

Was doing five like Ye in the kitchen for three summers
Used to work for two weeks, get a check, and see three numbers
Beat a nigga so bad, he swear it was three of us
P stay with me, a bit of a tree hugger
Me and the money hold hands like we love us
Hear no evil, don’t see nothin’, don’t speak nothin’
Fear no nigga, don’t start somethin’, it’ll be somethin’
Put a hand on our harvest, that mean the reaper comin’

There’s not really a hook on this track, which was a surprise to me. There’s just a short break between the two verses. The song’s structure is basically just as straightforward as that of the preceding track. However, the second verse is performed by someone named B.Well, who I’d never heard of before. I think his voice has a pretty nice contrast to that of Teller Bank$. I prefer Bank$’s verse overall, but B.Well did a nice job here too. Overall, this is another dope track. I really love the beat on 007. It sounds like he sampled the intro to a Rock song because the loop is a pretty simplistic, kinda quiet guitar lick. This track has some of the album’s hardest lyricism up to this point.

Rollin’ with that heat all summer, I’m still chillin’
All these broken hearts and drug dealin’ made me a villain
Mass murderer, ain’t make it to no pearly gates, I seen Cerberus
I know you heard them shots even if you ain’t never heard of us

The song is structured the same way as the preceding couple of songs, so there’s not much different going on here. I really like the beat though, and the belligerent lyricism is hard as fuck. The song is dope as hell to me. The following track is entitled Eyes on the Money. This track begins with a verse from Ponderosa Moe, who I was unfamiliar with prior to listening to this album. I enjoyed his performance though. I think he fits over the nocturnal-sounding production really well.

Niggas’ll come through, hit you, and dismiss you quick
You think you finna come here and get up on this? Just quit
‘Cause you ain’t finna be slidin’ without permission slips

This is the only song on the album with an actual hook, unless I’m forgetting something. The singing from Teller Bank$ is pretty nice, and same goes for the melody itself. I like the way the verses are structured. The way Bank$ and Moe kinda go back and forth is really nice. I definitely liked Bank$’s performance more, but both of these dudes did a nice job. The song is dope. It’s followed by another highlight for me called Switch Whiips. I got the coveted involuntary headnod as soon as Teller Bank$ started rapping on this one. I really love the way he was flowing over this beat. The way the beat kinda switches up about halfway through the track made me scrunch up my face too. I think this track has the best instrumental up to this point on the record. The second verse he spits on this track is crazy too.

I’m addicted to trauma and bein’ broken hearted
All my problems is probably something I had started
Couldn’t fight for my relationships, was fightin’ charges
Beat the cases, lost everything else
Couldn’t find a way out, guess I had to find myself

The second verse is more interesting lyrically, but the flow on the first verse definitely got my heart racing faster. This is one of the best songs on the album in my opinion; I think it’s dope as hell. It’s followed by Spin Move. The faded out beat on this one kinda reminds me of The Ride by Sylvan LaCue for some reason. Teller Bank$’s flow on the first verse of this song is fucking awesome. It’s really fast paced and almost Spoken Word-ish sounding. He killed the first verse. The second verse from Rim has a much more traditional sounding flow, but it’s still pretty fast-paced. Out of all the features on this album, I think Rim did the best at keeping up with Teller Bank$’s skill level. It sounds like both of them gave high-level performances that would be hard to emulate. This is one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. I think it’s dope as hell. Track 7 is called Black Tuesday. The beat on this track is pretty dope, and I love how aggressively Teller Bank$ rapped on this track. He spazzed out here.

Fast livin’, had to go get it faster, I’m that nigga
Not just another rap nigga or another trap nigga
Rap & serve a pack nigga, pack and pop a gat nigga
I swear I’m speakin’ facts, nigga
I ain’t that same nigga you knew, but you’ll get used to that
Remember when I used to ride the coupe without the roof attached
Nickel bag and servin’ sacks
Remember back when what I paid for one, you could get 2 for that

I love how this song is just one really aggressive verse with nothing else going on. I suppose the song isn’t structured too differently from most of the others, so it’s really just the performance itself that makes this one stand out. I think the song is dope as hell. Who You Know has one of the best instrumentals on the album in my opinion. It’s one of the most soulful beats on the project. The opening verse from Ponderosa Moe is really nice, but Teller Bank$ made sure listeners knew this was his song. He killed this shit. That line about beating a nigga with a tire iron until he’s tired was awesome. I just think Teller Bank$’s unique voice sounds amazing over this type of production. This is a really short track, but it’s one of my favorites. I think it’s dope as hell. Track 9 is a major highlight entitled The Pen. This track has another one of the better beats in my opinion. I love how cold and dark this track sounds. It reminds me of the opening level to James Bond 007: Nightfire. The hostile lyricism from Bank$ matches the cold aesthetic of the instrumental beautifully. He slaughtered this track.

I look a witness in the eye, bet he forget what he saw
My arms as long as the law’s
I hit his arm, leg, leg, arm, head, be he meetin’ the lord
The type of nigga eat with my hands, only whip with the fork
I made a lot off the pots, they never handed me keys
I’m known for pickin’ the locks, I kept a boxcutter on me ‘fore I knew how to box
Way before I went to the range I was sendin’ out shots
If I told you I killed a fiend at 22 would you believe me or not?
I don’t care what the ‘po know, they can’t prove a whole lot

I knew this track was gonna be grizzly when he started the song by saying “I really got evil in me, don’t tempt me.” This is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album. I think it’s dope af. It’s immediately followed up by another contender for my favorite track on the album, Chuck Norris. This track has another one my favorite instrumentals on the project. The beat is super dark and ominous. The way Teller Bank$ is rapping over it with autotune is really cool too. It kinda reminds me of what Lil Durk does, except this actually sounds good. Once again, I love how hostile the lyricism is here.

Walk in on a nigga like the Terminator
I heard a nigga talkin’ down, he gettin’ murdered later

That line about him needing to work on his temper before he gets famous was hard as bricks. This is another major highlight for me. I think it’s dope af. The closing couple of tracks are called Black & The Sword, respectively. Black has my favorite beat on the whole album, and The Sword has another one of the best ones too. The soft piano melody on Black just sounds really gorgeous to me, and the tough lyricism matches the desolate tone of the production really well. Both of these songs are structured the exact same way as the opening track, but they’re even better in my opinion. I think The Sword has some of the album’s most heartfelt lyricism. I think both of them are dope as hell.

This album is dope as hell. Honestly, I think I might like this one even more than his preceding album. I don’t know. I guess it really depends what I’m in the mood to hear. If I wanna hear sadder stuff I guess I’ll go back to The Grotesque & Beautiful, but I love how cold and hard this newer album is. I’m also sold on Teller Bank$ as a producer now because these beats are really good. This album just solidified him as one of my favorite artists in the underground right now. I didn’t really mention it in the body of this review because I’ve said it already in the past, but he’s got one of the most unique voices in Hip Hop at the moment, so he always commands my attention. This is one of the better albums I’ve heard in 2021. It’s really great. Check it out.

Favorite Song: The Pen
Least Favorite Song: Eyes on the Money


Grade: A-

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