STORY WRITTEN BY ED CONDRAN
For Digital First Media
Made in America has always been about diverse lineups. There’s some healthy diversity in Banks and Steelz, who will perform Sunday during Made In America. The duo is comprised of Interpol frontman Paul Banks and former Wu Tang Clan rapper RZA.
It was evident that Banks was going to move in another direction with a side project. “I have to do something else,” said Banks speaking from Washington D.C. “I love Interpol but there is more to music.”
Banks, 38, has been a hip-hop fan since he was a kid. “I loved hip-hop since I was in the seventh or eighth grade,” Banks said. “I’ve always been passionate about it.”
Banks and Steelz is like sonic chocolate and peanut butter. There’s Banks’ icy guitar-driven style and RZA’s intense, provocative raps. A pair of visionaries sounds great on paper. However, it doesn’t often work out in the studio. But it does in the case of Banks and Steelz. “Giant,” is the most visceral single of the summer, which features one of RZA’s most manic performances. The song is poetic, atmospheric and potent.
“I used to be a hip-hop DJ,” Banks said. “I was consumed by the music, while growing up.”
Banks’ passion is evident after a spin of the Banks and Steelz debut album, “Anything But Words.” The project draws the best of Banks and Steelz. The rhythm is tighter than with any Interpol release. Banks’ post-punk guitar style and a reinvigorated RZA makes for the most exciting tandem outside of Run the Jewels.
Catch Banks and Steelz at MIA but there is much to consume at Made In America. There is hip-hop, avant rock EDM, pop, Latin, R&B, among other styles of music. Jay Z aka Shawn Carter, who starred Made In America, is the festival curator. The iconic entrepreneur offers a varied sonic menu. There’s Collegrove (2 Chainz and Lil’ Wayne), Jamie XX, the emerging Chance the Rapper, who scored plenty of love Sunday night from Kanye West during MTV’s “Video Music Awards,” and the experimental Grimes. Blues guitar ace Gary Clark Jr, alt-rockers Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Of course, there are the headliners Rihanna, who scored raves for her performance during MTV’s VMAs. Coldplay returns to Philadelphia a month after selling out Lincoln Financial Field. It’ll be interesting to see how Rihanna and Coldplay adapt from headlining stadiums to presenting a show in front of a massive crowd, which will include some fans of other recording artists.
Will Coldplay hit with the explosion of color, it presented at the Linc. Will Coldplay blow away the audience with aural and visual overload?
FKA Twigs, Bryson Tiller, SZA, St. Lucia, Grits & Biscuits, Disciples, Sleepy Tom and Kevin Garrett, who co-wrote Beyonce’s “Pray You Catch Me,” are some of the other intriguing emerging recording artists slated to perform.
Garrett, 25, clearly has a future. The Pittsburgh native is a music junkie with a great set of pipes and a very good ear.
“I can’t wait to perform,” Garrett said speaking from New York. “The lineups at Made In America have always been very good. This year’s lineup is very impressive.”
Count on a number of surprises at the festival. Every year there’s some changeups. MIA has a lot to live up to considering over the past five years the Kings of Leon, Nine Inch Nails, Beyonce, Pearl Jam and Jay Z have impressed.
“You know you’re going to get some amazing performances,” Garrett said. “When I was at Made in America last year (as a fan), I had a great time. But fans will leave satisfied. When you look at this lineup, you know it’ll be memorable.”