Teller Bank$ and Blaq Knight combine to deliver Hellfire & Brimstone. Over 9 tracks, the emcee/producer duo take us on a journey of impending doom, powered by a tsunami of hard-hitting beats and rich loops. Their aim on this project is to bring war to all who stand in their way. And just when it seems the most dark and bleak, the ominously-titled project provides a couple of uplifting moments to allow the sunshine to seep through all the dark clouds and billowing smoke.
The ever-energetic Teller Bank$ delivers his high-pitched, lighting staccato flow with confidence. For this project, Teller sought out a producer who remains a bit more subversive yet stays true to their personal style. Bank$’ singular skills requires an equally-unique talent on the beats to provide the sonic landscapes that can allow his frenetic flow to shine.
Enter Blaq Knight. The North Carolina-based producer draws much of his inspiration from late 90’s hip hop icon, Wu-Tang’s The RZA, amongst others. Blaq Knight has always expressed his affinity for The RZA’s Beats. While Blaq has certainly developed a sound all his own, RZA’s influence can be seen in Blaq’s style, without a doubt.
“Get Ready” Grab your inhaler on this intro joint because Teller gives listeners an asthma attack just trying to catch the quick rhymes on the opener. Bank$ goes in at light speed, spitting assault rifle raps for a min straight over a soul loop.
Teller Bank$ comes in slightly slower on “G Code.” Blaq Knight chops a beautiful vocal sample into 2 parts and let’s it build over a couple bars and then releases. It’s a whirlwind of a track with Teller straight rapping for over a min, no hook. Blaq Knight creates a rush of energy with the strings sample and thunderous drums.
“Rigged” Blaq gives Bank$ a futuristic mood and an echoing synth guitar. Teller is more calculated, breaking down his rhymes and showing some unique vocal range as well as his usual quick-tongued delivery.
“No Mercy” Strings create a mood of impending doom. Bank$ voice is particularly strained in this number, emphasizing his passion and energy. He’s not holding back, coming out swinging, taking no prisoners.
“Drink the codeine straight cuz Ion’t really fuck with soda
I don’t really fuck with sober
All my nuggets look like yoda”
Teller comes so hype and lively on tracks like this that it’s clear he pours his all into his work.
Teller Bank$ brings a unique voice and cadence along with his most obvious asset, his extremely fast delivery. Teller’s got levels of speed in his rhymes. His lyrics don’t have to be the most profound or thought-provoking. Bank$’ lyrics are visceral and playful, with plenty of spots for fans to chuckle at. The intensity is never lacking though. Teller Bank$ has his moments where he’s having fun and enjoying life, but he’s ready to scrap and bring the thunder throughout this album.
“Eulogies” Blaq Knight layers strings and guitar chords in an arrangement to make the track feel like an epic warning for emcees stepping to test Bank$.
“Snatch ya purse quick, be the perennial outcome
That’s why I fly solo like millennium falcons.
He say he did it, I doubt it, but
Note how his mouth run.
Wonder why I do my dirt by my dolo
Well, that’s how come.”
His timing often seems like it’s off until he delivers his last bar to match his rhyme pulling his verse together.
“Ecclesiastics” Bank$ is hype over a repetitive guitar riff and bouncy bass. Blaq melodically chops a vocal sample to layer on the Asian-inspired beat.
“Geometry” ft Rome Streetz is a standout burner on this album. With the only feature on the project Blaq and Bank$ chose one 2018’s underground all-stars, Brooklyn’s Rome Streetz. Naturally, he comes as sharp as ever.
“Y’all n***as lookin like bargains,
Too worried bout fashion week,
Dawg ya fashion weak,
Ion’t respect n***as that rock purses without packing heat
I’m snatching shit
In public too
So all that hard shit you been talkin need an asterisk.
I’m an astronaut,
Twisting up a massive knot.”
The beat gently builds with subtle crackling strings, a droning synth and sped up vocal sample. Blaq Knight creates the perfect space for Rome and Teller’s calculated moves, to just creep across the track, like assassins sneaking up on their target. Rome absolutely kills his verse as expected.
“Crazy” Blaq Knight lays some chopped soul vocals and piano loops for Teller to display a sawing flow where he drones on in a monotone style then switches it up to his more typical uptempo flow, all the while stacking rhymes on top of rhymes.
“Thellin” This soulful joint showcases Teller Bank$’ energetic flow over some gorgeous vocal loops by Blaq Knight.
Check the video here:
Blaq knight shows the prowess of a seasoned vet on the boards, creating some well-crafted arrangements. He builds tension and allows the track to breathe, not cluttering the bars. His beats ebb and flow, build and release to create a rush. His use of vocal samples, types of instrumental samples, and his drum patterns give his beats that “middle-period RZA” feel. Regardless, It’s safe to say Bob Digi would certainly enjoy Blaq Knight’s Beats on this album.
Together Blaq Knight and Teller Bank$ create an imposing album with enough punch and substance to pull listeners into their world of hard beats and fiery lyrics. A sonic experience with thunderous hard beats sandwiched between exquisite soulful touches. This project is certainly one of the more unique sounding hip hop projects this year. Cop Hellfire & Brimstone here: