The punchline king returns with another self-reflective offering, further solidifying his position as a veteran in this new era of hip-hop.
Lloyd Bank’s homecoming party was well-received as his 2021 release The Course of the Inevitable achieved critical acclaim with a cult following. The record was the first time we had heard from the introverted veteran in nearly a decade, leaving many pondering if he would maintain his return to the sport. Sure enough, hip-hop’s self-proclaimed Punch Line King is back with the sequel to his cult-classic record.
Banks’ sequel to his critically-acclaimed effort expands on the idea of maturity in hip-hop and serves as a prime example that veterans can still maintain successful positions in the culture as current artists.
The rebrand of Lloyd Banks has been an enjoyable one to witness over the past few years. The punchline king has come a long way since his Blue Hefner days as he finds himself slowly inching towards the forefront of the new jagged-sounding movement in hip-hop and is continuously evolving as a writer. Banks’ pen is more refined than ever as we see his latest release placing more emphasis on on soul-searching quotes rather than the sharp, witty punchlines that constituted his early works. With over twenty years of experience in the game, The Course of the Inevitable 2 proves that it is possible for hip-hop artists to age like fine wine over time.
While it’s always a pleasure to see Banks hop back in his P.L.K. bag, The Course of the Inevitable 2 finds satisfaction in tracing Banks’ evolution as an artist. The Queens heavy hitter found great success jotting his pain, pressure and paranoia into this record, putting new found tactics on display as well as old tricks. Make no mistake, Banks’ pen was always able to stretch across many genres, but this record in particular best exhibits his extensive range as a songwriter. The bouncy single “Fell In Love” proves that Banks is capable of making a contemporary banger record, while the sympathetic “Murda One” delves deeper into the trials and tribulations Banks has faced in the industry.
While it is clear that Banks is making an attempt to separate from the slick and snappy punchlines that he’s well revered for, certain moments on this record reveal glimpses of this signature style are still embedded in his system. This is most apparent on the album’s intro track, “Impact”, an electric barrage of bars over a highly menacing instrumental. Through this track we see remnants of Banks’ older style as he effortlessly lets out one-liners like (“N****s sleepin’, I had to deal with comas too”) and (“Sixty minutes of an album, all cap”).
The main ingredient holding the album together is the electrifying production, catering to the different styles of Blue. The Course of the Inevitable 2 features an extensive roster of producers, but a bullk of the beats are handled by frequent collaborator, Cartune Beatz, yet again. Banks smoothly glides over the diverse array of production from many familiar names, with each beat laying a firm foundation for the countless styles of Lloyd Banks to emerge from the notepad. Beat selection is often a struggle that many New York street rap legends tend to face as they find themselves aging in the industry, but this record eliminates Banks from the pool of names.
After his controversial tweet claiming “no one was looking out for Banks nowadays”, the Punch Line King fell back and refocused his path. Back with a new vision and future success on the horizon, Banks is leveling the playing field in hip-hop in regards to the perception of legacy artists. Rather than entertaining the nostalgia and waiting for his just dues, the Queens emcee removes the rose-tinted glasses and is striving with the hunger for more, whether it be success, acclaim, or satisfaction. This notion is well-enveloped on the eulogizing single “Dead Roses”, which shows Banks demanding his flowers while he’s still here while expanding on the idea of artists not seeing this appreciation until they pass.
The Course of the Inevitable 2 has been met with great reception from the hip-hop realm, adding another stripe in Banks’ catalog. However, with this record acting as a continuation from the first, it’s hard to refrain from drawing comparisons between the two scriptures. While this follow-up record does an excellent job of building upon the prototype of the first Course of the Inevitable, but the electric feeling of pressing play on the prequel for the first time didn’t quite translate this time around. Nonetheless, The Course of the Inevitable 2 is still an amazing record with potential to see major success in the hip-hop realm.
8.5 / 10
Best tracks: “Dead Roses”, “Menace”, “Living Proof”, “Murda One”, “Trapped”, “Power Steering”, “Impact”