Erica Banks, the Desoto High School graduate who hit it big with her viral TikTok hit "Buss It." 1501 Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment

Erica Banks Has Arrived

A conversation with the young Dallas rapper who took over TikTok.

I first heard Erica Banks in June of 2020. A video of her freestyling to “Need It” by Migos and YoungBoy Never Broke Again had gone viral on Twitter. At first glance, my eyes diverted to Banks’ playful caption, “D-TOWN BITCH, I’M HEAVY,” which persuaded me to watch the 45 second snippet. Whether the caption was to assert her hometown in opposition to the glistening 1501 chain, a signifier of her signage to the Houston record label, or a playful introduction to new listeners on social media, I was heavily intrigued in the emergent career of the Desoto High School alum.

I knew, of course, comparisons would be made to Megan Thee Stallion, her labelmate. Both are young Black women rappers from Texas. However, I interpreted Banks as the latest woman rapper from Dallas-Fort Worth to garner national attention. Last month, Enchanting, a Fort Worth-raised rapper, signed to Gucci Mane’s The New 1017 record label, after her video for “Want Sum” took over Twitter. The rappers are no longer based in Dallas-Fort Worth, but their successes are indications that the region’s resurgence on a national stage is no fluke.

And in the case of Banks, she conquered one of the highest stages in pop culture, TikTok. “Buss It,” her first Billboard Hot 100 single, inspired the first viral challenge of 2021. The Sgt J-produced track flipped Nelly’s “Hot In Herre” into a quintessential twerking anthem, aligning with the city’s history of dance songs to “throw” ass too. But unlike previous tracks, it is from a women’s perspective.

Because, to be quite honest, women are running hip-hop.

Days before voting ended for XXL magazine’s Freshmen List, which Banks was in the running for, we spoke about her excitement of being a nominee, the making of “Buss It,” and Dallas’ representation in mainstream hip-hop.

Congrats on being the potential 10th spot on the XXL Freshmen. How are you feeling about that? I’m pretty lit about it. This is something that I’ve always wondered on how to make. This is something that I came into the industry, thinking. Okay, “How do I do that? I want to be one of them.” So, for me, now to be a candidate is crazy. It’s still unbelievable. It’s exciting.

Over the last 12 months, women rappers from Dallas have been blowing up like yourself and Enchanting. How does it feel to be one of the voices in this resurgence of the city’s sound in mainstream hip-hop? It’s unexplainable. I’m just glad to finally be able to be a part of it. You know, to put my music out and express myself the way I like. For people to like it. So, it’s really like a dream come true. This is everything I’ve always wanted. It’s everything I thought it would be. So, I’m just excited to be a part of it.

I’m mutuals with your producer on Twitter. I hit him up saying I really want to interview Erica. I looked at one of his interviews, and he said when he made “Buss It,” it reminded him of the Dallas Boogie movement. Your song reminds me of that era were people where at Fuel City, jigging in the parking lots. How does it feel to be considered in that lexicon? I feel like I really surpassed everything that I thought I could in such little time. With it going up like it did on Tik Tok. It’s just very exciting and I’m just glad to be here, overall. I still can’t believe it. I mean it’s here.

 You’re signed to a Houston record label. What caused you to make that transition down south? For me, it was all about vibes and intuition. I’m really big on that. Me, just feeling it was the right decision. It led me to make the decision. I had other offers as well, but I felt like they weren’t for me. By the time, I did get to 1501, I felt like okay this is the right move, this is where I’m supposed to be. It just felt like the right thing. Shout out to 1501.

They’ve been having such a great pipeline of Texas based talent going national. How has your experience been before “Buss It” and after? Before “Buss It,” it was just me and my mom, and my media guy, who was Max. It was just us three and we were just pushing. So, to come from three people to now, a big team of over 200 people, including people behind-the-scenes is a blessing. You know. I don’t have to do it alone. I have a team to help me out. So, it’s a differently a big difference, but I’m glad I have a bigger team.

You took over social media. Everybody and their mother did a Buss It challenge. You’ve been performing all over. How do you feel? I’ve been reporting on Dallas-based musicians and they feel happy to be visible and applauded because it didn’t always use to be this way. How does it feel to be known as someone who is proudly from Dallas, because a decade ago, it wasn’t the scene, people used to think oh it’s only Houston but now there’s attention on Dallas. I’m proud of Dallas overall to see everybody from the city just doing their thing and making it out. Cause at one point, Dallas was the place where people felt like they can’t make it out of. It’s just very inspiring to me, still, as a young artist. I’m just living to see my city finally get that recognition.

You’ve proven that Dallas rappers, especially women Dallas rappers can chart nationally. Oh yeah, it can happen.

You know there’s this urban myth that rappers from the city are stuck in a bubble, like you’re never going to break out of this shell. Oh no, that’s definitely false. I’m living proof.

Do you have any relationships with other Dallas rappers in the industry? I know on Twitter, I saw you interacting with some of the rappers at 1017 who are also from Dallas. Me and Enchanting are really good friends. We knew each other before we both blew up so, I saw her come up, she saw mine. We actually have a couple of songs together, from way back then. But yeah, I love Enchanting. Me and Yella Beezy, we’re also good friends. We were able to link up on a record and do a video, so things like that. Yeah, Kaash Paige. I love Kaash Paige. She’s also from Dallas. It’s a couple of people from Dallas that I’m cool with.

Did you ever perform locally here? I started that maybe a year ago. I was doing shows and getting booked at clubs and stuff. A little bit before I got signed. Then, of course, when I did get signed, it picked up a whole lot. Before that, I was getting booked at little local shows in Dallas.

When did you get signed to 1501? I got signed to 1501 in April of last year.

Wow! All of this success in less than 12 months. Now, that your name is known. What inspires you to keep going everyday? Just my fans, people listening to my music and streaming my music. It just makes me want to keep putting out music because I’m seeing the feedback and support, I get. The support is everything.

What are songs you would recommend outside of “Buss It?” Everyone comes in for the hit song, but for people who want to know you more holistically as an artist. What are some tracks you can list off? “Mary” is a good track. “Tony Story” Part 1 and 2, those are good tracks. Also, “Trip Out.” It’s one of my favorites.

Could you tell me about being in the room making “Buss It?” Did you know at that time it was going to be a hit? I actually didn’t. I didn’t know what was going to happen with “Buss It.” I personally didn’t like the track. I wasn’t going to release it. But I had my producer and friends telling me this is hard. You should put this out. I was like cool and put it out and it’s been my best performing song.

I saw a tweet from Beatking, saying he remembered when the track was made in his house. It was actually made at Beatking’s house. It actually was. When they played it later on, I was like oh, that’s hot.

I remember pitching you to Pitchfork last year, saying she’s going to blow up. Twelve months later, here we are. Here we are.

How does it feel to be one of the people leading the city in this new direction? I’m just glad to be one of the women to be able to do it because typically it’s always the men. I’m glad as a woman I’m able to take the initiative to just finally do for my city as an artist and be an inspiration to other artists. So, it’s very exciting and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

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