When Queens rap collective World’s Fair announced that their latest album might be their last, it was a sobering reminder that while rap stardom certainly appears glitzy and desirable looking up at the top echelons of superstars, for the working class rappers of the world, it can be a bumpy road, and it doesn’t always end at platinum plaques. Fortunately, if they do decide to go their separate ways, they’ve vowed to remain brothers bonded by the ups and downs of life.
That doesn’t mean that they’ll all stop pursuing rap careers though. If anything, it frees the individual members up to chase their own distinctive sounds, styles, and goals as solo artists, much like group member Remy Banks, who hit the ground running with his October EP release, Champ Hoodie Music 2. While he’s no stranger to solo work, releasing his debut mixtape Higher in 2015 and the first Champ Hoodie Music last year, the new tape allows him to stretch his lyrical muscles a bit more. Focusing in on his witty, street-smart wordplay and loose, laid-back flow, the EP allows Remy to take center stage on his own terms while expanding his circle of influence to include other New York underground fixtures like Wiki and his longtime rhyme partner Lansky Jones, as well as LA’s Domo Genesis.
While Remy picks up where World’s Fair left off, his Champ Hoodie Music 2 walks back some of the group’s more bombastic musical experimentation, grounding Remy’s slick, nostalgic rhymes in more traditional, soul-sample drive production which allows him to floss smooth punchlines and slink in-and-out of pockets we rarely get to hear him utilize. It’s akin to many of his earlier solo releases, such as the first Champ Hoodie Music EP and his mixtapes with the throwback, boom-bap rap trio Children Of The Night.
However, that doesn’t mean he’s frozen in amber on his latest release. While many rap formalists tend to allow their sounds to stagnate while chasing the sounds of yesteryear, Remy still embraces a bit of that old World’s Fair daring; the beats on Champ Hoodie 2 are more distorted and weirder, just not so weird that they’d throw off the mid-90s New York rap stalwarts that clearly influenced his style. “Desert/Dayday Freestyle” uses a jazzy, bass-heavy beat to give Remy space to simultaneously reminisce on and celebrate his come-up, while the spacious beat on “Northerplaylistic Pt. 2” provides room for Remy and guest rappers Lansky Jones and Wiki to reel off unconventional flows, from double-time to the slurry slouch Wiki has been pioneering for the past few years.
If life’s bumps and bruises slowed down World’s Fair’s grind, they also provided Remy Banks with plenty of material to keep his own engine fueled for a good long while. His maturation on this latest project is proof that life is the best teacher, and the quality lends credence to the theory that the strongest soldiers get the toughest battles. If nothing else, Champ Hoodie Music 2 is evidence that Remy will keep plugging away, taking whatever life throws at him, and changing with the times — always for the better.
Champ Hoodie Music 2 is out now. Check it out below or get it here.