Wrap Up And Watch Out: Benny Banks
Benny Banks is undoubtedly one of the most hyped up UK rap acts around right now, so we sent The Wrap Up's Nardene Scott down to speak with the north Londoner about his rapid rise to UK rap fame, his most meaningful lyrics, what zone he likes to get in when when writing his bars down, his forthcoming mixtape, and what plans he has to make sure that he gets a seat at the MOBO Awards.
The Wrap Up: Hey Benny! So tell us, how did you start out rapping?
Benny Banks: I started at like the end of summer 2009 and then I asked my manager, Zee, to put up a video on his website, Zee TV. From there, we kind of clicked and I decided to let him be my manager and it just went from there.
TWU: Who were you most influenced by when you were growing up?
Benny Banks: I listen to a lot of American rap artists, but also people from the UK. I like The Streets, and Plan B has done a lot - growing up over the years, I’ve seen what he’s done. I listened to Roll Deep when I was young too, just music in general. I’ve been inspired by a lot of people, I probably don’t know a lot of the artists, it’s just stuff that I listen to on the radio or if someone plays it to me. Styles P and that were the main people that I listened too when I was younger, though.
TWU: Lyrically, you focus on real life experiences and situations. Have you got yourself into trouble with that before?
Benny Banks: I have, but I wouldn’t call them issues because it wasn’t even like a problem. A few situations, but controversy sells. I’m not lying about anything.
TWU: Also, your flow is really laid-back, everything seems like it just flows with ease. Is this something that you work on?
Benny Banks: Nah, it’s just me as a person. I’m just laid-back and don’t really care about things, just every day is the same. It’s the same with music…
TWU: Do you need to get into a certain mode?
Benny Banks: Yeah, I don’t write every single day. It’s not like I do it all the time, it’s just that sometimes I get a little inspiration or a buzz and I just like to sit down for a couple of days and just get on with my job.
TWU: Your SB.TV and the Fire In The Booth freestyles have clocked up a lot of views, but what are you planning for your fans on the forthcoming mixtape?
Benny Banks: I’m giving them a free download, that’s for the fans. It will hopefully be out by the end of April, so yeah, that's just a little something to say thanks to everyone that has been supporting. There’s gonna be a lot of big features on that, a lot of big beats on there too. Obviously, I’ve got people like Joe Black on there and people that are around me, trying to get a few more people but I don’t want to say names just in case.
TWU: What would be your ideal producers to work with? Like, what type of beats are you feeling at the moment?
Benny Banks: I’m currently doing a few tunes with Kraze, who has done some producing for Devlin. I’ve spoken to quite a few big producers. I’ve also got a tune coming up with a female artist, I don’t think I can say, but I’ve got a few things in the pipeline. I was around big artists when I was coming up anyway, so I’ve still got them around me. Even though I did it by myself, I was pushed into a circle that was already on the come-up.
TWU: With the success of K Koke and Giggs, what do you hope will happen with your rap career in the next couple of years?
Benny Banks: I hope to get a deal as well, if not a deal, then I hope to do it independently. I don’t want to rap for no reason. It’s not a hobby, it’s more business. There’s a way to do things in music and there’s a key to it and we’re trying to see if our formula works. I just have to be the one with the talent, so I’m just doing my part. I hope to get somewhere, definitely. I’m trying to get the MOBOs (laughs).
TWU: Sounds like a plan! Okay, so do you have any shows coming up?
Benny Banks: There’s supposed to be a performance in Sweden hopefully near to the mixtape release, but I don’t know if it’s definite yet. We’ll obviously have a launch party for the mixtape, but we don’t know where we’re doing that yet. Other than that, I’m just trying to finish of this mixtape so we can move on to the actual EP.
TWU: What are the best bars that you think you've come up with so far?
Benny Banks: I don’t know, man. I really liked my SB.TV 'Warm Up Session', that was the most meaningful to me. My first song as well, because it just reminds me of first starting up and how I’ve changed in the space of a year. I’ve done a lot quickly since then. The buzz that I got from that track, I'll always remember it.
TWU: Compared to those older tracks/bars, what is the mixtape going to sound like?
Benny Banks: I’m trying to give them more emotion, rather than gas. I’m still talking about the same type of things, but I’m coming from the emotional side of things. We’re all going through it in one way or another and I just want it to be more relevant so that people can relate to it, but still simple.
TWU: So, what’s the plan for the rest of 2011?
Benny Banks: After the mixtape, we’re going to work more on some stuff without the samples, more marketable music. I think the free download is going to be marketable; obviously it’s more of a big up to all the people that have been following me for the last year and giving them something back. I’m just gonna keep doing me, Benny Banks. I’m hoping for all that other stuff to come after. I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but I don’t see why not. There’s also a collaborative mixtape dropping from myself, Joe Black and Squeeks, produced by Westy, that should be out hopefully in like a month or two!
Stay up to date with Benny Banks on Twitter – www.twitter.com/MrBennyBanks
Words: Nardene Scott (@NardeneScott)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)