[caption id="attachment_18481" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="Photo: Circe Baumgartner for MTV"][/caption]
His first full-length release since the radio-friendly Hunger for More 2 a full year ago, Lloyd Banks took to the internet to drop his latest mixtape Cold Corner 2 last night. This sequel was originally destined to drop three months ago, but the temperament of the project is perfectly suited for the pending cold-and-flu season: A far cry from energetic anthems like “Beamer, Benz or Bentely” or “Start It Up,” Cold Corner 2's tracks are a moody series of songs better suited for a headphone experience rather than inside a club.
Most of the production across the 18 tracks is shared between Doe Pesci, Tha Jerm and Nick Speed, but Dipset wunderkind producer araabMUZIK opens on “1, 2, 3 Grind" and he sets the cold, creepy tone of the mixtape, flipping what sounds like the Halloween theme song into a maniacal stream of piano notes over pulsating snares and kicks. Prodigy and Lloyd Banks trade verses, sticking to the their time-tested recipe of street-savvy metaphors and punch lines. Banks recruits current rap darling A$AP Rocky for "Make It Stack," immediately striking a chord with the thug-meets-internet-buzzband juxtaposition that made the Pusha T/Tyler, the Creator collab so successful.
But this collaboration isn't as playful. A$AP sits comfortably atop the heady Doe Pesci and Tha Jerm co-production, his voice fresh and energetic compared to Bank’s rasping iterations. It's a declarative moment: Banks isn't in it necessarily for the buzzfeed, but is more pensive and reflective. By the last track, “Come Up,” Banks is waxing poetic about his fated rise to fame over a tweaked horn and melancholy guitar riff, and you just hope the end isn't near. Like sand and slush during a New York City winter, Cold Corner 2 is a gritty mixture of despondent beats and harsh verses, yet Bank’s signature metaphors and wordplay are still strong and sometimes even funny. Whether this mixtape captures the current mood of a single rapper or the bleak cultural climate is still unclear, but one thing is for sure: winter's coming. [Download Cold Corner 2 via Datpiff.]