Brandon Banks

Brandon Banks

Hip-hop owes so much to Houston—its legacy of chopped/screwed aesthetics and narcotized themes continues to inspire new generations of rappers beyond the city limits, and within its sometimes factional wards, fresh talent still thrives. Beloved as an independent artist, lyrical dynamo Maxo Kream makes his major-label debut with Brandon Banks, an instantly engrossing album that addresses the relatable reality of the struggles preceding his come-up as well as those that persist today. As hinted at by the cover art, his relationship with his oft-incarcerated father looms over the project, unspooled honestly on “Bissonnet” (“Locked up my pops and took my brother/So my daddy was my mother”) and juxtaposed with his own complicated criminal history on “Pray 2 the Dope.” Eyes wide open, he speaks brutal truths about trap money on “8 Figures” (“You ain’t really got cash ’til you got eight figures/I been gettin’ street money ever since I was little”) while exposing the snakes in his own midst on “Change.” For the less grave fare of “She Live” and “The Relays,” Maxo taps prominent locals Megan Thee Stallion and Travis Scott for a party vibe.

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