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Erica Banks is that gworl. And, while her name and face have constantly been taking over the headlines, there’s a side to her that many people don’t know, but probably could relate to.
Banks, a native of Dallas, Texas, signed to 1501 Certified Entertainment in the spring of 2019 after playing a snippet of her viral hit “Buss It” for the label’s CEO, Carl Crawford, on Instagram Live. A few months later, the song was on almost everyone’s TikTok and Instagram feeds catching the attention of celebrities, like Chloe Bailey, Monica, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gabrielle Union, and many more!
However, “Buss It” wouldn’t be the last time this Flow Queen went viral. It seems like every other day she is either defending herself for something she has said or for someone she has dated.
A lot of folks are wondering things that can only be answered and explained by Miss Banks herself, which is why she sat down exclusively with The Director of Social Content for The Shade Room Teens, Taylor Bickham, at SXSW to clear the air and give her perspective of the situations that have transpired over the past year or so, like her misunderstanding with Nicki Minaj, her comparison to Megan Thee Stallion, even the incident when a video from her “Close Friends” was leaked, and more.
Erica Banks Reflects On How This Past Year Affected Her Mental Health
Taylor Bickham: You had a very busy year last year. There was a lot that went on. I want to first talk about how this past year has affected your mental health.
Erica Banks: Last year was crazy for me. Really the whole three years has been crazy for me especially when you are in the media all the time. When you are in the media all the time, it’s kind of like… you have to be a certain kind of person to a certain extent. So, once my mind was wrapped around that it affected my mental health a lot because for a minute I was like ‘wow, I really can’t be myself’ with this particular career, and I am just not used to not being me. So, there’s been a lot of times where.. I wouldn’t say I’ve had an identity crisis but I’ve went through times where I’m like, damn, am I her or am I her? It takes a toll on you. I am still human. I cry all the time about a lot of different things. But, it has made me who I am. And, I am still standing three years later so.. You know.. Shoutout to the man upstairs.
Taylor Bickham: Growing up in the limelight, it seems like you still have to answer for mistakes you made as a kid. How does that make you feel? How do you deal with it?
Erica Banks: Um… it makes me feel like the world is against me. That’s how it feels. Of course, as a celebrity… everything I do is magnified. So, I have to be very mindful and careful of how I say things, and it can be a little irritating sometimes because I don’t ever want to come off, especially to my fans, as this fake person, and that’s why I’m so real and so vocal. But, I have learned, after going through things to say things a certain way if you’re going to say it. Not so much filter it.. But, don’t be so… you [Erica] with it. Because sometimes being too much of you can rub people the wrong way, and you don’t always want to do that. So, I’ve learned a lot. The industry has definitely taught me how to maneuver, also in a political way. Where I am now, I feel like I am in a very great place. Even with the mistakes I’ve made, I don’t regret anything. I feel like everything is a learning experience, and even my experience, can teach someone else wanting to do music. At the end of the day, you just have to take it with a grain of salt. It’s still life. We’re all still human and you just keep on moving.
Taylor Bickham: I feel like it’s also not just you being you, but also, people not understanding where you are from. So, there may be things that are understood in Dallas that may not be understood in New York.
Erica Banks: Right! It’s a lot of times that when I say certain things that people from Down South understood it, but everyone else was kind of like… “why she say that!?” You know? But, like you said, it just depends on who is receiving it. Because, everyone is going to receive it differently.
Taylor Bickham: With all the things that happened and you prioritizing your mental health, what would you suggest to other people that are wanting to be in the spotlight?
Erica Banks: As far as mental health goes, I would say to first know and understand what you are getting into. Look into it… ask about it… get with people who are in the industry so they can maybe give you some kind of insight before going into it. The second thing would be to… I can’t tell people to remain spiritual.. Everyone isn’t into that but for me, remaining spiritual and always talking to my God has worked for me. So, whatever religion you have I would say tap into that. That can give you a warm comfortable space to live in and overall surround yourself with people who want to see you win. You know.. That matters. I feel like… if you surround yourself with people who don’t want to see you win… you’re never going to win because you are your environment.
Erica Banks Says She Would Shoot Her Shot With Erica Mena
Taylor Bickham: I like that you said that because I want to segue into the incident that happened where someone exposed something that was in your close friends. Did you have to reevaluate your circle? What were the things you had to do when that incident happened outside of the things that happened in the media?
Erica Banks: Yeah absolutely I had to reevaluate my circle which isn’t very big anyway. But, I had to narrow it down even smaller because whoever I consider these people to be, they consider themselves something else, clearly. Which is not a friend. So, I had to cut some people off. You know.. It was no hard feelings. To this day I still don’t know.. I would love to know.
Taylor Bickham: I was about to ask, did you know who?
Erica Banks: I don’t know… I have like three contenders but I can’t pin it on nobody. You know? And, I am not the person to be like, you did it! You know what I’m saying? So, whatever f— it. If I find out later, I will find out later, but I just had to cut my circle down and now we are down to a circle that’s not very big.
Taylor Bickham: With this incident that happened, I know you talk about it a lot in the media of it being a misunderstanding of what you were saying and it being a violation of privacy, so what did you mean exactly?
Erica Banks: Yeah, so a lot of people, especially if you don’t know me, were misunderstood.. It was taken out of context… and me, like I said in my last interview, I am very non filtered. When I speak it comes off however the hell I want it to especially if I know you and I know you know me so you know how i mean it. But as far as the type of women I was referring to was actually… my type, literally. Because some people know, some people don’t know.. I like men and women. So, when I go to the club, I like eye candy so I am going to go off of what I think is cool for me when I get home and I want to …. But, as I said in my last interview, everything isn’t always about the look of something. But, me coming into the industry.. I started to believe that.. Like okay… this sh— DO matter. It do matter what you look like. It do matter what you have on, and I took on that thought process just from being in the industry and how it is and I kind of took it upon myself and thinking maybe this is how I am supposed to do it, so this is the type I want. So, I started to follow what was “industry”, which isn’t even me but you know, I felt like I fell into that just by being consumed with what I am around. But now, I just don’t even press it. If you want to come out with Erica Banks, cool. Because it was misconstrued and I don’t want people to feel like I am that type of girl because i’m really not. So now, it don’t even matter. Come if you come. If I think you fine, we can get it on later. It’s just not that deep.
Taylor Bickham: Well with that being said, what is your type?
Erica Banks: I like.. Real juicy. I like.. Bouncy. It don’t have to be a BBL. Sh— I ain’t always had a BBL, so you know.. Some of the girls I’ve been with ain’t had no BBL. Let’s cut the BBL sh— out. I feel like once I got a BBL. I became the BBL girl, and it’s never that. Skin complexion does not matter. We like all ethnicities. We like Latinos.. We like brownskin… I’ve never tried a white girl though…
Taylor Bickham: What about personality wise? What do you cling to?
Erica Banks: Personality wise.. I cling to bubbly. I like social. I don’t like someone who is too quiet. I don’t like nobody who don’t like to drink. If you don’t do what I like to do, I don’t want to kick it. Love a pretty smile.. Don’t have to be veneers. I have to say a lot this because they act like I am so specific with what I like in my life. As long as she funny, like to have a good time, she my type of girl.
Taylor Bickham: Okay, so what about from a guy’s perspective?
Erica Banks: Guys… I like someone who is hard working. I like someone who is understanding. Secure… Let me say that again… SECURE. As far as looks, I don’t even really know what my type is with dudes because I may get a dude that looks like this.. And next week I get a guy that looks like that. Even growing up my mom used to tell me.. I don’t even know what you like forreal because you always just bringing anybody in here. So, I don’t really have a physical requirements for a dude. If I like him, I like him.
Taylor Bickham: If you could shoot your shot at one celebrity (male or female) who would it be?
Erica Banks: You know what.. if it was a woman… I love me some Erica Mena. Erica Mena is something to do.
Taylor Bickham: I feel like it would be frustrating to date someone with the same name as me.
Erica Banks: I.. think that kind of would. I never done that — that would be a little weird! I would probably find another name to call her… a cute little nickname or something. I met her a couple of weeks ago, and her energy was just so vibrant.. bubbly…. what I like! I was like you know… I could see myself with her..
Erica Banks Says That She Would Have Been An Entrepreneur If She Didn’t Become A Rapper
Taylor Bickham: How does your family deal with the media storm when they see you in the headlines or going viral?
Erica Banks: They call me all the time. I be telling them “mom and dad you don’t have to call me it’s cool today. I know y’all see me on the blogs, but it’s cool.” But, when it first started happening they would call me and be like “E, are you okay? We know this is a lot. We know this isn’t you. Just understand this is going to happen forever, just block it out.” You know they are still my parents so they want to make sure that I’m comfortable or that I’m good. But at this point, we all kind of understand that this is what my life is now, so they don’t really panic anymore. They just call to check on me to make sure that I’m good when stuff does happen.
Taylor Bickham: So you mentioned earlier that if you wanted to be in this job, in this industry, that’s what this looks like, but if you had to pick another job, what other career would you have chosen?
Erica Banks: I would have been an entrepreneur. I would have opened a nail shop, which I still want to do. I would have opened a beauty supply. I would have probably sold hair. I would do clothes, for sure. I would get into my cooking thing… probably sell plates.
Taylor Bickham: You can cook??
Erica Banks: What?!
Taylor Bickham: What’s your best dish?
Erica Banks: Baked Chicken!
Erica Banks Says She Wanted A BBL At 16 Before Becoming A Rapper
Taylor Bickham: Haha, okay you talk about getting a lot of attention and backlash for having a BBL, and that is very common in the industry, but is very categorized, so tell me what made you make the decision to get a BBL?
Erica Banks: Oh girl when I was in high school, I knew I was going to do it.
Taylor Bickham: Really??
Erica Banks: What? Yes! I knew I was going to do. And, I knew I was going to do it because I knew what I wanted to look like. But, I also knew that I didn’t want to go to the gym and do it. Because I went to the gym when I signed with 1501. They had me in the gym for a good six months, and after those six months I was like, I am tired of sweating out my frontal every day. I am tired of spending money on a wig every two days because I am sweating at the gym. I am starting to look good but I am tired of this sh—. They had me picking up tires, and running relays. I’m like this ain’t my cup of tea. I’d rather just get it done. So, I got me some money and I went and got it done. I know a lot of people would think I got it done because of what I do. But, i didn’t know at 16 I would be rapping. But, I knew at 16, I wanted a BBL.
Taylor Bickham: Did you talk to your parents about it when you were 16?
Erica Banks: Oh yeah! My mama was like “you don’t need to do that”. She used to show me pictures of botched butts and tell me this is what is going to happen to me. She still do that.. I’m like girl…
Taylor Bickham: Were you worried about how it may turn out?
Erica Banks: Um.. I was a little freaked out when she first started showing me because they had a TV show about that. She used to make me watch that too. But, I used to be scared with what I saw on TV, but i would always think…”I don’t think God gone let that happen to me” and I mean you know… I also feel like whatever happens.. supposed to happen. God forbid anything bad happen to me but I would tell her I feel what you saying but I am just gone try it just to see.
Taylor Bickham: In terms of young girls, how can they still love their natural bodies in a world where we can make those kinds of adjustments? What would be your suggestion to them to be able to still love their bodies, at this time?
Erica Banks: I would say to young girls. Wait until you get older to see what you look like. You might like your body by 23. And, if you don’t, or you want to enhance it, by all means do so. It’s your body. Whatever you want to do with it.. Whether you want to keep it natural… get a BBL… or whatever. But, as far as loving yourself.. I would say it starts there.
Taylor Bickham: I feel like a lot of people feel like, “I will love myself more if this happens”, but if you don’t love yourself before you get a BBL, you probably won’t after.
Erica Banks: Exactly.. It starts within. I was happy inside before I got a BBL, so now it probably looks like I’m cocky as hell. But, I was already happy so it just started on the inside.
Erica Banks Says She Will Still Be A Die-Hard “Barb” Whether She Gets A Feature From Nicki Minaj, Or Not
Taylor Bickham: Now, let’s get into this Nicki Minaj situation because you are a Barb, right?
Erica Banks: Yes I am.
Taylor Bickham: And, you are a proud Barb regardless of everything that’s happened, so what was the misunderstanding?
Erica Banks: Girl…. You know I’ve said this too, a lot of times people are misunderstood when they don’t know each other. Or, when they’ve never spoken to each other, so like, if I never met you and you made a statement about me or whatever and I don’t know you. I could probably take it the wrong way because I don’t know you. I don’t know how you meant it. But with my situation, long story short… I agreed with a statement that a person said and when I agreed with them…. I was just being a super fan of Nicki Minaj. And, I’m just like… I would love to work with Nicki Minaj. That’s really all it was. I think it was misunderstood on her end just because we don’t know each other. So it probably came off.. However it did to her, but regardless of that I’m still a Barb. I still know every word. I’m still listening to “Red Ruby Da Sleeze”. I don’t care what the internet say. They love to say “oh she’s just doing that for the feature” or “oh she’s still trying to do this. That’s dead.” And, I’m like if it’s dead, let it be dead, but I’m still a fan.
Taylor Bickham: So, regardless if you got a feature with her or not, you’d still be a fan?
Erica Banks: I would still be a die-hard Nicki Minaj fan. But, she better call me lol.
Taylor Bickham: Are you still blocked?
Erica Banks: Girl, yeah.
Taylor Bickham: Have you reached out since?
Erica Banks: I reached out that same day from my cooking page, but I haven’t heard from her since then, so no.
Taylor Bickham: So, if you could say something to Nicki right now, what would it be?
Erica Banks: Um… I don’t know… if I had to come off the top. I would be like.. “Now girl… you know”. You know? I would come at her like a real person. It wouldn’t even be scripted. I would just be like, “Girl, you know what I meant. Why you do that?” You know… I would kind of do it on a joking tip because that’s just my personality. I feel like she would understand me if we spoke like how me and you are speaking versus Instagram.
Erica Banks Gives Megan The Stallion Her Flowers & Deads Any Beef Rumors
Taylor Bickham: Outside of the things that’s happened with Nicki, another rap girl that comes up with your name a lot is Megan The Stallion. How do you feel about the comparison? Do y’all have a relationship? Is this “beef” just something the internet made up?
Erica Banks: Honestly how I feel about it is that I’m honored to be compared to someone of such a high caliber. Because let’s be real.. She’s amazing. Her music is amazing. She’s doing her thing. Salute to her. But, when it comes to the comparisons, it’s just something the people are going to do. You know.. And, with the internet, you have to let the internet do what it’s gone do, and that’s be messy. That’s turn people against each other. We don’t have a problem. We’ve never met in person, which is crazy to think when you look at the internet and what they’ve said. I think I really allowed the internet to consume me with that — with the whole thought of being against her. I started to feel like.. “Damn, do we really have a problem?” and one day I realized… we really don’t. We actually had a conversation back in 2020. Very brief. Just heartfelt. Just sharing heart to heart girl sh—. But, other than that. Nah, we haven’t spoken. It’s just an internet thing.
Taylor Bickham: Do you feel like the internet and industry does that a lot with women? Putting them against each other?
Erica Banks: I think it’s because they know women are catty, and very egotistical. And, they know the men don’t really care about all of that. Men aren’t going to go back and forth on the internet all day about who better. They don’t care about that. They’re men. That’s not something they even feed into. If anything they gone dap each other up, and go kick it at the studio. But girls, when somebody say they are better than somebody else, it’s like World War III. I think the internet does this with the women because they know the women are going to go for it.
Erica Banks Reflects On Her Journey To Hip Hop & How Nicki Minaj Inspired Her In 5th Grade
Taylor Bickham: It’s the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop. I want to segue a little bit and talk about your journey into Hip Hop. What made you want to hone into that?
Erica Banks: Honestly.. it was Nicki Minaj! I was in the 5th grade, and I think it was the Drake “Best I Ever Had (Remix)” that she was on, and I was like… who is this girl singing on here?! I like it! And, then it turned out to be Nicki Minaj. You know… I’m in like 5th grade. I’m like.. 11 years old, and I’m seeing this Barbie girl in pink rap and now I want to do it. I’ll never forget I got me a composition book two days after hearing that song, and I wanted to do what she was doing. I just started writing raps. Like, my mom still got the composition books. So yeah… she was my biggest inspiration. Growing up, I listened to her [Nicki], Missy Elliot, Lil Wayne, Drake… the whole Young Money era I was locked in. Everybody had their own style. Even today, they still do. They were a big inspiration on why I went into rap.
Taylor Bickham: With it being Women’s History Month, who is your Mount Rushmore of Female Rappers?
Erica Banks: It would be Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot. Hmmm… I’mma have to go with Eve. Then, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah.
Taylor Bickham: What Hip Hop Album Changed Your Life?
Erica Banks: What Hip Hop album changed my life… Pink Friday. Pink Friday, for sure. “Save Me” and “Right Thru Me”…. did a lot for me. Even the mixtapes, like.. Chile… I’m a Barb. Come on.
Erica Banks Talks About “Buss It” Going Viral & How She Hated The Song
Taylor Bickham: I want to talk to you about “Buss It” going viral.
Erica Banks: I love talking about it. That’s like my child.
Taylor Bickham: Everyone hopped on it!
Erica Banks: What’s crazy is.. I didn’t even like “Buss It”. I wasn’t going to put it out. I had my whole tracklist and I trashed it because it wasn’t good enough. And, when I signed with 1501, Carl and D-Boy, my manager… they were like, “Nah, this is hard. We need to put this out. This is good.” And, I’m like “Ahhh… Whatever” I personally feel like “Toot That” is a better song. Or, at the time I did. So, we put it out and it went viral in under six months, and it was crazy. It was overwhelming
Taylor Bickham: So, who hopped on the challenge that you were excited about?
Erica Banks: Girl.. Tracee Ellis Ross. I was like what the f—. Like, Gabrielle Union… what the f—-. Monica… what the f—-. Everybody was just tuned in. But, I think at that point is when I started to feel like… okay this is working. Maybe I am supposed to be doing this. Damn, I didn’t even like this song and it’s doing this. It gave me confidence as an artist, too, because I didn’t like the song. So, now, even sh— that I don’t like, I still put it out.
Taylor Bickham: It’s crazy that you didn’t like the song.
Erica Banks: I hated it. I still hate it, lol.
Taylor Bickham: Really, why??
Erica Banks: It’s just I felt like I could do a lot better. But, like in today’s world, it seems like the simpler music is what people want. If I got on the “Buss It” beat today. It would be so much harder.
Taylor Bickham: Do it. You coming out with a “Buss It” Remix?
Erica Banks: That would be hard, huh? You might have said something. You might have just did something right there.
♬ Buss It – Erica Banks
Taylor Bickham: So, what’s next for you?
Erica Banks: Everything — what’s not next! So, I’m getting ready to drop my single, “Ain’t Got Time” at the end of this month. We’re excited about that. We have the video for that, and my fans have been going crazy at my neck about it since December. So, we finally putting that out, and following that we will do press runs and tours. I did a tour last summer with Summer Walker and T-Pain. And, I spoke with T-Pain recently and he’s about to relaunch the next tour, so y’all will probably see me on that. And, of course, following the single we will have a project.. Merchandise.. I’m getting into my cooking show more.
Taylor Bickham: So, you’re going to be putting out recipes?
Erica Banks: Oh baby, I’m gonna publish a cookbook. I don’t know what I’m going to call it. But, I’m publishing a cookbook this year. And, you better buy it!
Taylor Bickham: If you could say something to your fans or The Shade Room readers, what would it be?
Erica Banks: I would want to tell my fans that I love them dearly. I appreciate their support from day zero to now. From supporting my Soundcloud music, all the way to being in the comments defending me today. And, a lot of times, if I’m not posting a lot, they think that something’s wrong. Or, I be seeing the comments.. they think I’m laid up with a n—–, and sometimes I do be laid up with a n—-, lol, but always know that I’m always working whether I’m posting or not. I love my fans. Big shoutout to them, and we locked in forever. Period.