Alternative rap often provides a starting point for discussions around political mayhem and societal tensions. With Banba EP, Ric Wilson doesn’t try to tackle the big subjects that cloud our current existence. Instead, he playfully reminds us that—even without these uncertain times—it’s difficult being 22.

Banba EP, released via L.A. label Innovative Leisure, casts a spotlight on moral conflict and self-improvement. In “Split”, Wilson confronts a heart being pulled in two directions, over glitching production from collaborator Hirsch.

With “Sinner”, Wilson admits he “should be faithful to my girl but infidelity feel the best”, balancing his conflict with its lightly-gospel chorus “I can’t seem to find myself right now / forgive me for my sins / i don’t think i’m ready to lie down”.

Sonically, Ric Wilson draws on the melodic rap influence of his Chicago brothers and sisters. Although, not ignoring “Don’t Rush”, with its cowbell shuffle and guitar lead groove, Wilson echoes aspirations that are equally close to Anderson .Paak as they are to Chicago role model Chance the Rapper.

Speaking of Chance, Wilson has followed in the same steps. He is an alumni of Young Chicago Authors, a youth initiative that has also supported the early days of Vic Mensa and Jamila Woods with their storytelling and poetry workshops.

Banba EP undeniably has catchy moments and witty lyricism. It’s evidence of an artist who is creatively discovering his own space, but with caution. It’s clear that the rapper, producer and Prison abolitionist has more to say—if he’ll be brave enough to let us hear it.

Ric Wilson, Banba EP (Innovative Leisure)

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Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée | With the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union With the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union