There’s been plenty of indie / hip-hop collaboration records in the past couple of years, but perhaps none so understated as the brainchild of Interpol frontman Paul Banks and de-facto Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA.
Interestingly, the project doesn’t stifle either Banks or RZA; staples of each of their production styles and preferences are apparent throughout, intermingling with each other. RZA’s aggressive vocal delivery and penchant for in-your-face percussion comes through clearly on just about every track, and Banks’ trademark melancholic lyricism and more-bitter-than-sweet delivery oddly enough play quite well off each other.
There are some tracks that venture outside of either RZA or Banks’ apparent comfort zones, such as the subdued “Can’t Hardly Feel.” That said, when I first heard that Banks and RZA were collaborating, I expected the resultant project to be either amazing, or absolute garbage. I was wrong on both counts, because although Anything But Words isn’t horrible, it’s definitely far from being great. It seems as if lyrically, RZA took a day off, and Banks’ production work throughout the 12-track album is repetitive and vaguely amorphous.
Anything But Words proved to be an enjoyable, albeit almost immediately forgettable project from two giants in their respective fields. Exceptions include “Love and War” which features Ghostface Killah, and “Giant,” the first single the duo released.