Tapping into the mainstream while remaining true to the underground...
'HBK'

Perhaps best known for his dancehall remix of 2017’s biggest earworm ‘Shape Of You’ and his Top 10 hit with Yungen, ‘Bestie’, you could be forgiven for assuming that Yxng Bane's 'HBK' would feature wall to wall mainstream crossover pop. Whilst it does feature its fair share of bangers, the tape itself is far reaching and genre defying - a welcome surprise.

Having already earned himself critical acclaim in the form of multiple award nominations and a coveted spot on the BBC Sounds Of 2018 longlist, it’s easy to see why he's earned such hype. Bane’s amalgamation of genres is clever in that each track taps into the current cultural zeitgeist in one way or another. With US trap influenced tracks such as ‘Squeezeface’ to more dancehall-tinged tracks like ‘Needed Time’, Bane proves that his fans aren’t a homogenous bunch.

Another endearing quality of this mixtape is its title ‘HBK’, which is an acronym for ‘Heartbreak Kid’, the pseudonym of WWE wrestler, Shawn Michaels. With the use of this as his mixtape’s title, Bane appeals to a sense of nostalgia that prevails within a certain generation and sector of music listeners.

To some, ‘HBK’ is perhaps a niche reference, whereas to others, this encompassed a major part of their adolescence. This ability to appeal to the mainstream whilst also tapping into specific aspects that makes a certain demographic unique truly sets Bane apart.

7/10

Words: Jumi Akinfenwa

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