Rise & Grind is a new editorial series, meant to introduce and dissect new, buzzing, or underground artists.
Erica Banks managed to change her life during the pandemic, going viral on social media with one of this year’s hottest dance challenges, which highlighted her Nelly-sampling single “Buss It”. When she first shot into rap stardom, she was pitted against the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, mostly because of her association with 1501 Entertainment– the same record label that initially signed Megan when she was breaking. Erica’s brash bars and Texas slang were picked apart by critics, who incessantly compared her to fellow women in the game. Banks fought back by saying that everyone from Texas speaks with a similar accent.
By 2021, she has rewritten her own narrative. Erica Banks is presently one of the most buzzing ladies in hip-hop, which she’s earned independently of co-signs. The DeSoto, Texas-raised 22-year-old has accomplished so much at a young age, getting a Gold-certified record with “Buss It” and angling to hit big numbers again with her current single “Toot That.”
The world is now waiting for her major-label studio debut, which will arrive with Warner Records. You can learn more about the hard-working Erica Banks through her latest feature with HotNewHipHop’s Rise & Grind, answering ten basic questions before jumping into a more personalized Q&A session, which you can check out below.
Stay tuned for a new installment of Rise & Grind every Monday.
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I grew up in DeSoto. The experience was fun, I was always active, doing cheerleading and other sports– I really loved the limelight so I kinda started that as a kid.
The people were my favorite part about growing up in DeSoto. We all knew each other, we still do, it’s very small. We knew each other from parents, to friends, to kids, you know, everybody knew each other because everybody was just so engaged in what y’all had going on. So I just loved that it was a family community.
Yella Beezy came up from my area, Cuban Doll, Asian Doll, Tay Money… I’m having a brain fart (laughs). Kaash Paige… it’s a lot of artists that have come out of Dallas. I’m just excited to see it growing.
I’m into zodiac signs, but I’m only into mine. I don’t really know about the other ones. I’m a Libra.
Not saying that everybody I’m friends with is always a Libra but, you know, whoever I date has to be a Libra. I don’t feel like that. But I do believe that everything they says about the horoscope is definitely on point, I’m definitely a balanced person, I think balance is very important. But, I don’t get too tied up in it because again, we have to remember we are in the real world. But I do think it’s really cool to look into and I do apply it to everyday life.
I can’t even lie, I think all of the Libra traits apply to me. I know something says that we are sensitive, we look out for other people before we look out for ourselves, balance is a really big factor. So I think everything is accurate for me.
Top 5 DOA:
Nicki Minaj, of course. Nicki Minaj, Future, Lil Wayne, Drake, and me!
My biggest accomplishment in my career so far… my record going gold. That’s my biggest accomplishment. We haven’t announced it publicly or on socials yet, so this is an insider for you. “Buss It” going gold is my biggest accomplishment right now.
Studio Habits & Essentials:
I need to smoke weed and I need to have something to drink. I prefer Hennessy. Now, these are not things that I just absolutely have to have, I can record without them just as great. These are just things that I prefer just to set the vibe. So, if I got some weed and some Hennessy, it’s gonna be a good day.
Gorilla Glue and Sour Diesel are my favorite strains right now.
Shoutout to Sgt. J who produced the record. He had actually made the beat at BeatKings’ house, they were just making beats. I stopped and listened to it and I said, “This is hard.” So the next studio session me and Sgt. J had, he had played it for me again. And that’s when I was like, “Ok cool, I think I’m gonna put something on this.” So, it actually started from me seeing it on Instagram, me saying I like it, and then Sgt. J pulling up to the studio and actually playing it for me in person, and that same day I just put my spin on it.
I didn’t expect it to do what it did, especially as fast as it did. When it did happen, I was just like, “Damn, is this real?” It was hard to believe just because I personally didn’t like the record, so to see people react to it how they were was just surprising for me. But it’s exciting. I tell people all the time I’m just excited to see it do what it’s doing.
I just felt like I could do a lot better than that. Me, as an artist, I just know what I’m capable of. So me hearing the record, I just thought it was too simple. I felt like it was missing something, and overall I just didn’t like it. I mean, I love it now (laughs). At that time, I just felt like I could do better but everybody else felt like it was cool so I just went with it.
We had to clear the sample through Nelly, he actually loved the record– he heard it last summer when we were getting ready to put it out. And his girlfriend actually did the “Buss It Challenge” herself twice, so I’m guessing she loves the song as well. But yeah, we did have to go through him to get it cleared.
As for the remix, I didn’t actually get a chance to do the session with Travis Scott. It was more of a thing where it was a surprise. I didn’t know it was happening. It was presented to me with him on it and then he said, and I quote, “I’ve just been seeing her do her thing for a minute, you know I’m just really proud of what she has going.” And just him seeing me do my thing, he wanted to be a part of the movement so he decided to put a verse on it and do that for me. So that’s how that went.
I didn’t know what to think at first. I really didn’t, because that’s not what I expected on that phone call. I was shocked, I mean I really was, and it was just crazy to me because maybe like an hour or two before the phone call I had actually bought a Travis Scott jacket, so it was kinda ironic how it happened that day. I was excited, because at the time they were like, “Well we don’t know if we’re gonna put it out, it’s just an idea.” So I couldn’t really get too excited, I didn’t really know how we were gonna do it. Yeah, it was an exciting moment for me.
I remember the first bars I wrote but I don’t want to share them.
I was nervous the first time I was in the studio though. I was the only girl. It was me and two of my male friends who were already doing music, and then the engineer. So I went in there, it took me like two takes, I did it, I came out. It sounded good, my voice was super high back then, it was like two years ago. But it was fun, it was fun, but it was also my first time, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But, you know, I wanted to rap so it wasn’t like it was the hardest thing in the world. But I did enjoy myself.
The first song I ever recorded is on SoundCloud. Just go on SoundCloud and type in “Erica Banks” and just keep scrolling until you feel like this is the oldest of the oldest. It’s definitely on there, though.
It was in South Dallas. It was an outside concert. I forgot what it was called. But anyway, me and Enchanting, who’s also from Dallas, I remember seeing her on the showcase, that’s where I actually met her. She’s from Fort Worth, which is maybe like 45 minutes from Dallas. But yeah, it was at some outside concert in South Dallas.
The response was better than I thought. When I came on stage, everybody came to the front– well sh*t, they came to the front because I said, “Come to the front.” It was a lot of men, I didn’t see a lot of girls performing. But I felt like this is my first performance so I had to make it impressive, and I did, and I had a really good time. I actually– well I don’t have it, but my mom, she has the footage. So maybe I’ll post a clip on my story or something later, but it was fun.
Everything I like is pretty much normal. I don’t like anything outside of the norm or out of the ordinary. Anything that I just love or enjoy is typical.
My favorite movie? Damn. My favorite movie is “Waist Deep,” it would have to be “Waist Deep.”
As for TV, I don’t even have time to just watch a series if I do watch something. It’s always a movie, something that can come on and go off. I don’t ever really have time to just watch a series back-to-back because I move so much.
What’s next for Erica Banks? I always say, of course, new music. I’m always being consistent, I’m always putting something out. New videos, features, a project this summer, we have the “Toot That” remix coming, we have a lot of things coming so I always tell people to sum it up to just say, “Tap in so you don’t miss anything.”
Image provided by the artist
HNHH: Congratulations on signing your deal with Warner Records!
Erica Banks: Thank you.
How did you know that was the right deal for you to take?
I always say I go off of vibes and intuition. This wasn’t my first encounter or first offer, so I kinda like to take my time with it. I had my support system, my parents, who also help me make those kinds of decisions. But, I just felt like it was the right decision. I got a chance to meet with them before signing, I got a chance to feel the situation out, so I wasn’t really blind to what was going on. So I knew what was going on and what was going on was cool with me! I just felt like it was the right thing to do.
Like you said, a few other labels had approached you. You said in another interview recently that DaBaby tried to sign you to Billion Dollar Baby. Were you overwhelmed that so many people were showing interest in building you up as an artist?
Yeah I was, because I just didn’t expect it to happen so fast. He actually reached out to me my first year of rapping, this wasn’t recently, this was like 2019 that he reached out. But yeah, it was overwhelming, I didn’t know which way to go when you have people offering different things in different places, it’s like, “Where do I go?” But like I said, I just go off of my intuition.
How hard was it for you to break the news to Baby that you were going to sign elsewhere?
It was very hard. I kind of stalled all day because I didn’t know how to say it, and then I didn’t wanna say no. I was sad, I was really just going with it because I knew that my mom knew best, and I was really upset with her. I was upset with her for a minute about that, like, “You really made me turn that down? You’re crazy!” But I ended up telling him the same day that my mom was like, “I need you to tell him.” Because the same day I told him no was the same day he had bought my plane ticket and everything so I was like, “I gotta tell him this.” But we’re still cool, he understood, and everything was all good.
A lot of your success happened in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. How did you manage to break out as a new artist with a huge song during such an uncertain time?
I was just determined. Me and my team had a plan, and we said, “This is what we’re gonna do,” and that’s pretty much it. Me being me and me just being hard-working, despite whatever is going on I try to still be proactive however I can, even if it’s just music videos, or if it’s just interviews, or if it’s just putting out freestyles every other day to keep everybody intrigued. I was just doing whatever I could to still stay active. It’s just a matter of being active through whatever.
At what point did you realize that “Buss It” was going viral, that people were making dance challenge videos to it?
I realized the day that it sparked up. People were calling me, hitting me like, “Have you seen your song going viral on TikTok?” I’m like, “Nah.” Because I wasn’t too familiar with TikTok at that time, I wasn’t really on there, I didn’t know how it worked. So I had to get familiar with it, and when I saw the numbers increasing how they were, by the hour, it was just infatuating. I couldn’t believe it, I’m seeing celebrities do it, I’m seeing artists do it, everybody. It was just unbelievable for me but I was so excited for it to finally be happening because it happened for a record that I didn’t like. So I didn’t think that it was gonna happen for “Buss It.”
For you, the viral success was pretty much accidental. But there are artists making songs specifically for TikTok and dance challenges. How do you feel about artists that are catering to TikTok as they create?
Everybody has their own niche. Everybody has their own ways of doing things. I feel no way about it, if the next artist wants to make a TikTok for the song or is aiming for a TikTok hit that they think people can dance to, cool. Me personally, I’m not making my music for any type of– I don’t know what I would even call it. I just make music the way I like to, in hopes that it goes as big as TikTok did with “Buss It.” I’m more about the bars, I’m more about what’s really being talked about in the song, but if it does hit TikTok, cool. But that’s not the ultimate goal of the song for me in particular.
Last year there was some drama with Megan Thee Stallion. I wanted to ask you if you’ve reached out or if she has reached out to you at all in the last year to squash things?
Are you open to that?
What would you be doing as a career if you weren’t rapping right now? You studied nursing, and then you switched to business, right?
Yeah, I would be in school for business. I was going for nursing and then maybe like a month before I left school I changed it to business. So I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. But yeah, if I wasn’t rapping I would be in school, doing a business management career, and I would actually want to be an entrepreneur if I wasn’t rapping. Anything or any way that I could do my own way, have my own business, just everything self-owned, self-employed, that’s where I would be going.
I love that. Billionaire Banks.
How did you first end up connecting with Carl Crawford and 1501 Entertainment?
I linked up with Carl on an Instagram Live. He was on live and he had days where he would play artists’ music and give feedback. So it was one day where I got on, and a few people in the comments knew me, and actually one of the DJs that was on live with him knew me. So he was like, “Pull up Erica’s song.” I had “Buss It” out already. He pulled up “Buss It,” he gave me great feedback, and then maybe a couple of weeks after that, he reached out to me through DM in regards to me joining the team, and then we just went from there.
You just dropped a song with Jacquees. Are there any other artists that you’ve been collaborating with recently?
Yes, but it’s confidential (laughs).
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you want to address before we close out?
I just wanted to really say that “Toot That” is the next single. We have the regular “Toot That” out, and now we have the remix coming soon to just amp it up. I’m excited about the remix, I’m excited about who’s on it, the video, everything. So, we’ll be rebranding it just like we did the rebrand for “Buss It,” and then hopefully it does what “Buss It” did, if not better.
READ LAST WEEK’S INTERVIEW WITH BRS KASH HERE.