Album Review | Teller Bank$ – The I & I

This album was released on August 22nd this year. It’s the 6th album that Teller Bank$ has dropped in 2022, and it was probably the most exciting one for me out of all of them because it had the strongest rollout. It’s also fully produced by Ed Glorious, who was responsible for the production on 2 of my favorite Teller Bank$ albums in the past, so I kinda knew that I would really dig this project. There are some albums that you just know are gonna be good before you even listen to them, and this is an example of that. Earlier this year I tweeted that Teller Bank$ was on my Mt. Rushmore of current underground rappers, and that was before he dropped six albums. I am currently aware that I spelled “Rushmore” wrong in the aforementioned tweet by the way. Anyway, I had high expectations for this project, and they were thankfully met.

The opening song is entitled Friends. On my first listen, I was kind of surprised by how lighthearted and cheerful the tone of the production is. I wasn’t really paying attention at first, so I didn’t see that the song was called Friends. It is a friendly ass instrumental though. It sounds like a good ass day hanging out with your homies. I honestly love it. I think it’s a fantastic beat. Teller Bank$ rapped super well here too. He killed this shit.

It seem like lately I can’t keep a friend
To each his own, long as you’re reaching ends
Don’t even waste your times with feelings, best to keep ’em in
Niggas already made their judgements ‘fore the sentences
Niggas already made their minds up ‘fore the sentence ends
The consensus is, niggas tryna con niggas with all of them sentences
False sentiments for the benefits, politicking like senators
Send a text and then send again, spin the block and then spin again

His flow is smooth as hell, and the lyricism is top notch. I was hooked on every word he had to say. The hook is fire too.

I love the hood, and it ain't love me back
Streets never loved me like that
Holdin' hands with my nina 'case the opps slide back
One in the head, ain't gotta cock it, seen 'em die like that

Both of these guys are operating in top condition on this track honestly. I love it even more now than I originally did when I first heard it. The production is so fucking good. I love it. The song is dope af. Track 2 is another highlight called Ride Wimme. Once again, the production is absolutely stellar. It’s kind of chill, but really melodic, and a little dark, but still pretty. I really love Teller Bank$’s melodic vocal delivery and flow over it too. I think the rhymes in this couplet are pretty interesting…

Leave you layin' in church with your face on a T
Your brains in the dirt, boy, don't play, you'll get hurt

When you look at it, you ask yourself, “why did he say ‘T’ instead of ‘shirt?'” It would’ve made just as much sense, and it would’ve fit the rhyme better. There’s no doubt in my mind that this was intentional though. It sounds surprisingly natural. When you hear it, you don’t say to yourself “ooh, that sounded awkward. That shit didn’t rhyme.” It works. I think it’s really cool. My favorite line is probably “I just been fuckin’ these hoes for the hell of it” just because it’s funny to me. Honestly, I think it’s funny when rappers brag about fucking hoes and doing drugs. It’s so gloriously ignorant. I love it. The song is fire overall. The rapping is superb, and I absolutely love the production. This shit is dope as hell. The following track is another highlight entitled Pop Star, and it features an artist with whom I was previously unfamiliar named Rent Money. The production. God. Damn. Ed Glorious put his ASS in this beat. I fucking love it. This song has a pretty catchy hook, and Teller of course rapped super well on the first verse. I actually really enjoyed Rent Money’s performance too. He had a pretty nice flow.

Real calm nigga that'll still shoot you if you play
In the booth I'm super saiyan, I might be cuckoo in the brain
Bitches think I'm ugly, but still want me 'cause I'm doin' thangs
But I ain't doin' shit, my shooters outside shootin' shit
Get cracked, prolly get that get back, I ain't talkin' Ludacris
Miss me with your foolishness, I'm under the influences
My hitters pick up signals real good, they're intuitive
Top down on the Vegas strip, see me in the newest Benz

This song is fire. I think it’s dope as hell. It’s followed by yet another highlight entitled Fettywap. This song might actually have my favorite beat on the album to be honest. I fucking love how low-key and stripped back it sounds. It’s really dark too. It sounds heavy as shit. I love it. I wish y’all could’ve seen my reaction to Teller Bank$’s first verse too. He fucking slaughtered this shit. I don’t even know which lines to quote because I kinda wanna just transcribe the whole verse here.

I got a long list of niggas I ain't fuckin' with
I got a bucket list of niggas that need to go kick the bucket quick
Could get a buck 50 right in front of their bitch, leave 'em ugly as shit
Niggas swear they want the smoke until they starin' at cigs
Blue tips like peanut butter, these'll stick to your ribs

The production is absolutely phenomenal, and Teller Bank$ did what he had to do over it. This is another one of my favorite songs on the album. I still haven’t chosen a number one favorite track as of August 21st at 3:40 PM EST, but this is gonna be a strong contender. I think it’s dope af. It’s followed by another major highlight entitled Demons. As soon as it started I knew it was gonna be another one of my favorite tracks. All I needed to hear was Teller’s aggressive ass “YOO!” to know that this was gonna be my shit. Once again, the production is fire. I feel like it has kind of a West Coast vibe to it. I could definitely see ScHoolboy Q murdering this beat. This track is like the opposite of Friends. It’s super dark and violent. I personally love when Teller Bank$ gets hostile like this on a track.

You ain't ever seen a nigga die, eyes wide
Layin' still while his baby mama cryin', listen
I can hear the tears drop, trauma made me pill pop
Bills piled up, I whip the pot 'til the wrist lock

I really love how aggressive his vocal delivery is on this track. He sounds like a fucking monster here. I love how he kinda foreshadows the following track’s interpolation of Busta Rhymes‘ classic Woo-Hah!! single at the end of this track too. It’s fire. The song is dope af. Track 6 is called Cain & Abel, and it’s another favorite of mine. Once again, the production sounds like something a Black Hippy member would thrive over. I love it. Teller fucking snapped on this track too. He arguably rapped even better here than he did on the preceding track.

In that kitchen singing negro spirituals
Had it soakin' in that mayo jar, I whipped up a miracle
When you suicidal how another man gon' put fear in you?
Don't nothin' seem too scary when you seen what them demons do
But I bet you a deer in the headlights I aim this beam at you
Really did unspeakable things, that's why the spirits be speakin' through
That's why the devil peakin' through my eye lids
Juxtaposition I seen God in the eyes of my kids

Honestly, I think this is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard from him. I love how he borrowed the Woo-Hah!! hook, and the second verse is amazing. I loved that line where he said he feels like the thief next to Jesus. That was fire. The song is dope af. What’s crazy is that the following song is even better in my opinion. It’s called Finders Keepers, and it’s fucking amazing. I really love the melodic, warm-sounding, comforting production. It’s definitely got another one of my favorite instrumentals on the album. I love the personal lyricism from Teller Bank$ too. He killed this shit.

We kept it cool and then we blew by niggas
If you ain't outside eatin' you the food, my nigga
I'm really a wizard, I really beat the odds, I'm really the wiz
I'm really Mike moonwalkin' on yellow bricks
Shot caller, the pot callin' the kettle sis
Lift and squeeze the metal until it get hotter than where the devil lives
I'm really hell's angel, the devil was heaven-sent

The melodic hook sounds fantastic too. I think the main reason I love this song so much is just the production along with the somewhat sentimental lyricism. It’s a really fantastic song. I think it’s dope af. The following track is called Pages, and it’s got another really pretty instrumental. It sounds like the Garden of Eden in the form of music. I love it. Teller Bank$ of course killed the first verse.

My switchblade sharper than Dapper Dan
A lot of men carry a blade, it's few that ever really stabbed a man
Mind your hands, it's more than blood inside of an abdomen
Seen a man lose his lunch at the sight of what a slight of hand had did

The second verse is actually performed by AJ Suede, who is another one of the most prolific MCs of the year. His verse was really great too.

The road to Zion, like a young Gong Jr.
Gotta keep it burning, steady rollin' the petunia
To turn the pages had to gamble with the wages
Zig-zag-zig, knowledge wisdom for the sages
The real age is still timeless, ageless
It is universal, doesn't matter what your age is
The God-forsaken in a pair of Air Bakins
Livin' in the future, but your mind-state's ancient

He sounds really good over this beat. I honestly wouldn’t mind hearing more work between AJ Suede & Ed Glorious. That would be tight. Anyway, I think the song’s dope as hell. It’s followed by HItman, which features Aakeem Eshú. He’s not listed as a feature on the Bandcamp page for this album, so I guess he’s a secret contributor. Or maybe his lack of a feature credit on the song is just an error. I don’t know. He’s pretty dope though. I checked out his Betrayal & Liberation 2 album from last year and thought it was solid. Check that out if you haven’t yet. Anyway, this track isn’t really a highlight for me on the album, but I definitely still like it a lot. The production is tight, and both of the MCs here rapped really well. I think there’s a really nice contrast between the voices of Teller & Aakeem. I don’t think I would like this song as much as I do without the feature from Aakeem. I mean, I definitely would like it to some extent, but not as much. Aakeem’s verse was great.

I was writin' rhymes in a pew sittin' at my homie wake
Prayin' for his soul, but hope to God I don't see the same fate
Livin' in the system, so many ways that we take the bait
In those ways we just some Annie Maes eatin' up the cake

It’s a dope song. It doesn’t blow me away like most of the other tracks, but I don’t really have any real gripes with it. It’s followed by Hollywood, which is another highlight for me.

I really love the melodic production, and the reflective lyrical content from Teller is superb.

Both my daughters and my son just like me
They just love me for who I am, they don't know what I did for 'em
That's love in its true form, that's love and its pure for 'em
You gotta let go of some bags if you gon' move on
If the shoe don't fit, go get a shoehorn
I used to ride the coupe with the roof gone
Three deep with three niggas I'd shoot for
Got set up by the niggas I was tryna get loot for
Kinda shit that make you wonder what you was doin' it for

The entire track is basically just one long verse, and I think that a more fleshed out song structure could’ve pushed it to the next level, but I still consider it a highlight as it is. I just really love the production, and the rapping is very great. That’s all it comes down to. The song is dope as hell. Track 11 is called The Truth, and it’s the shortest song on the album. I really love the production on this track. I know I’m probably sounding like a broken record at this point, but seriously. This instrumental is fire. The song pretty much follows the same exact structure as the preceding track, so there’s just one verse. It’s really goddamn good though. My favorite line is “still got scars from the nails of crucifixions that failed.” That is fire. I love it. The song’s not really a highlight for me just because it’s so short that it doesn’t really have time to reach its full potential in my opinion. I still think it’s dope though. It’s followed by The Heart, which has another really good instrumental. The rapping is of course stellar as well.

This for all my niggas caught up in between
Scrolling a screen, seen a black man die on his knees, begging to breathe
Next thing white bitches dancin' to blood on the leaves
Blood on my hands be stainin' my sleeves, death come in threes
Jesus died between thieves, sheesh

I really enjoyed his verse on this track. Once again, the song has a very straightforward structure. He’s just rapping the entire time with no hook or bridge or anything like that. It’s really good though. I can’t decide whether or not I like this more than the preceding track. I’m not sure which one I would choose at the time of this writing, but I fuck with both of them. The song is dope. The penultimate track is called Supernatural, and it was my favorite song on the album on my first listen. Remember how I said Demons was like the opposite of Friends? I had the exact same thought about this track. I love how fucking dark and ominous the production is, and the gruesome lyricism had me hooked.

You ever seen some brains hit the pavement?
You ever caught a body and knew you couldn't claim it?
Ain't too many famous in my hood, most killers remain nameless
Got renamed by the gang and started making arrangements
They don't know how deranged the range is
It's blood, sweat and pain, shit
I ain't sheddin' tears, I'd probably get 'em tatted if that ever happened
Used to pull the baggies out of a hat like it was a rabbit
Like, mm, that shit was magic, like, mm, abracadabra, right?
How I see it: if I took it he never had a life
My wheel in line, I turn a opp to human sacrifice
All these pills in my pocket feelin' like a bag of rice
Potato on the barrel, this dog ain't gotta bark to bite

Once again, there’s no hook on this track. However, the rapping is so brutal that I can’t help but fall in love with it. I don’t mind the straightforward structure when it’s this well done. The song is dope af. The closing track is another major highlight entitled Fed Block Illuminati, and it might just be the best song on the album. I don’t know. I still haven’t decided a favorite track yet. This shit is amazing though. Again, the production is fantastic, and Teller’s flow, vocal delivery, and writing were all on point. This was one of my favorite couplets on the whole album…

Feel like God talkin' to me through this notepad
Ironic that I talk with the Father more than my own dad

The more I listen to this track the more I love it. I know I didn’t even say much about it, but that’s because I have nothing to nitpick. I mean, the structure of the song is just as straightforward as that of the preceding few songs, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially since it’s so well done. I fucking love this shit, man. I think it’s dope af.

This is the best project I’ve heard all year. I don’t know who I’m more pleased with between Teller Bank$ himself and Ed Glorious. This is without a doubt one of the best produced albums of the year, and Teller was on fire throughout it. I just love the way he raps about being in the streets and that whole type of lifestyle. The imagery is super vivid, and his technical rapping ability is undeniable. This is the best album I’ve heard from either of these guys in my opinion. It’s not like it completely blows their last couple of collaborations out of the water, but it feels like an improvement to me. It’s amazing. I still don’t know how the hell I’m gonna choose a favorite song. This is the best first listening experience I’ve had with these artists. This album was a blast to sit through. I am beyond satisfied with this project. I have no consistent gripes with it at all. This shit is boiling hot fire. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope af.

Favorite Song: Fed Block Illuminati
Least Favorite Song: The Truth


Grade: A

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