One morning, one Ms. Tyra Banks (not to be confused with the host of America’s Next Top Model, the other Tyra Banks) woke up to something many early career musicians couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams. Nick Minaj had posted on Twitter quoting lyrics from her newest release, and said she wanted to take her on tour.
As you can probably imagine, the South London rapper better known as Ms Banks was totally overcome:
Here, we’ll get you better acquainted with Nicki’s new favourite rapper, and take you through some of her hottest tracks past and present.
A Grime Heiress
Writing her first bar at the tender age of eleven, music is in Ms Banks’ blood. Her uncle was grime artist Remedy, part of the crew Essentials. As a result of her uncle’s influence, she was exposed to grime legends Wiley and Skepta from an early age. The germination of her musical talent was very much a family affair, as she explains in a recent interview. Ms Banks said that her house was always filled with music, and she used to perform her bars for her dad, mum and uncle at home. In later life, Ms Banks honed her skills at open mic nights – she’d recorded a few tracks in the studio, but it was performing live that really gave her the urge to take her music to the next level.
Ms Banks released her first project Once Upon a Grind back in 2014. Influenced by the best female rappers in the game from the US and the UK alike – such as Lil Kim, Ms Dynamite, Lisa Mafia, Lauryn Hill, and of course, Nicki Minaj, – Ms Banks was impressing audiences in London with her high energy flow. Inevitably influenced by her South London road rap predecessors like Giggs, Ms Bank’s bars blended raw aggression with sexy Lil Kim attitude.
Some blistering features followed this project, including tracks with Stefflon Don and Tinie Tempa. Uno My Style – a down beat banger where Ms Banks goes back to back with Stefflon – was a particular treat in 2015. On this track, it really is a case where the ladies show the men how it’s done.
Other female rappers have been an important part of Ms Banks’ development, as is inferred by her influences. In a recent interview, she recalled how at the young age of eleven or twelve hearing Lil Kim’s verse on Christina Aguilera’s Can’t Hold Us Down really spoke to her in terms of how tough it could be out there for women in the industry.
Her features on tracks with other female artists are always thoroughly excellent, and she’s keen to support other women in the industry. Ms Banks said: “There’s so much room for us all. I hope them seeing what’s happening to me and other females really breaking the mould is inspiring them and giving them more amour to know that they can be as great as they want to be, as big as they want to be.”
More recently, Ms Banks continues to smash out brilliant feature after brilliant feature. Her verse on recent track Yu Zimmie with Lisa Mercedez and Stylo G bring some dancehall flavour to Ms Banks bars, further proving her varied style and agile flow.
Taking the South London Sound Global
In terms of her solo tracks, it was clear Ms Banks was really coming in to her own by 2015. Tracks like Fleek and Hallelujah proved her lyricism and versatility.
More recent tracks like OMG have reinforced Ms Banks’ ability to consistently produce excellence, with her super-fast flow and fierce attitude.
Looking to the future, it seems like 2018 will truly be Ms Banks’ year. After touring with overnight rap sensation Cardi B, Ms Banks has ambitious plans. With her latest release Bangs – the song which Nicki quoted in her tweet – she’s set to take her career to the next level. In a recent interview, Ms Banks said she was ready to take South London to the world: “I feel like I’ve always wanted to just spread my message as far as I can internationally. That’s always been the aim: to take the South London sound global.”
You can listen to the track that brought young Ms Bank’s to Queen Nicki’s attention here: