The world of Kal Banx truly knows no bounds. While he is most well known for his recent work with Isaiah Rashad, Kal has been all over the music scene, including with some of my favorite artists of all-time. There’s no producer I get more excited to see pop up in the credits – he absolutely never misses. Some of my favorite work of his includes “Popeyes” by Smino, “Walkin” by Denzel Curry, and of course, “RIP Young” by Isaiah Rashad.
If you aren’t familiar with it already, Smino has one of the greatest mixtapes I have ever heard floating across the internet, filled with what are presumably some uncleared samples and remixes. S.A.D. contains some absolute gems and some of my favorite songs ever by Smino such as “S.A.D. Lil Intro” and “Good Ol Julio.” However, my favorite out of all 16 tracks has to be the Kal Banx produced “Popeyes,” something easy to understand by the end of the first bar, as Smino bursts onto the track, singing, “My salad valid, bitch.” If you listen closely you’ll hear someone saying “Chicken chicken / Chickenhead” – unmistakably sampling Project Pat’s “Chickenhead” featuring La Chat and Three 6 Mafia. The distinct siren noise also is sampled from this, yet Smino and Kal are able to turn it into something completely of their own – a beautiful mesh of madness.
Without a doubt one of my favorite songs this year, “Walkin” by Denzel Curry has not been taken off repeat. It kicked off what was soon to be a legendary rollout for his recent album Melt My Eyez See Your Future, filled with anticipation building interviews, visuals, and community interactions from Denzel. The track is split into two immaculate parts, each displaying a different side of both Denzel and Kal. The first half of the track is a smooth, percussion and melodic sample lead instrumental, with Denzel laying down some of the best flows of his career. His first verse attacks capitalism and the systematic inequality it has created, setting the stage for what is to come on the second half of the song. The cleanest of beat switches transports the listener to a higher energy, bass driven instrumental paired with the original sample as Denzel continues exploring the themes in the first verse. He discusses how struggles with anger issues, depression, and reliance on substances has impacted his life, while further exploring how the racism ingrained in society limits his opportunities as a black man. It set the stage for what is an incredibly introspective album, while marking what will hopefully not be the last collaboration between Denzel and Kal.
It would be disgraceful to talk about Kal without including a Zay song. He produced almost the entirety of his 2021 album The House Is Burning – unsurprisingly, these all happen to be my favorites. “RIP Young” quickly became one of my songs of the year, as the dynamic duo put it all on display. Per usual, Zay destroys the beat, his immaculate flow oozing for the entirety of the song. He takes it as a moment to flex on everyone, with lines such as, “Bitches say that I'm a cool cat, fuck that / Tell them bitches I'm a Top Dawg, get shot” and “On the westside, on the 110 / Swingin' my nuts.” Kal once again takes us back to Project Pat’s Mista Don’t Play, this time sampling “Cheese and Dope.” His production epitomizes much of what is heard across THIB – a seemingly easy listening style, yet containing many elements to pick out on close listen.