[INTERVIEW] MS BANKS

Her energy is as infectious as her sound. Fresh from dominating London’s music and fashion scenes, Ms Banks talks to VIPER about her pride in her African heritage and the evolution of women in the UK rap scene.

Unapologetically outspoken and fearlessly driven, Ms Banks has cultivated a steady following of rap loyalists who swear by her every bar. And for good reason. She began her musical journey at the age of 11, releasing her first mixtape, ‘Once Upon a Grind’. Since then, Ms Banks has grown from strength to strength, further paving the way for aspiring artists and young women in the UK who wholly resonate with the experiences that have moulded the bold artist we see today. 

I had the pleasure of sitting down (albeit virtually) with Ms Banks to discuss heritage, the evolution of UK female rap and what it meant to tour with the one and only, Cardi B. 

As far as first impressions go, I couldn’t help but imagine the sheer amount of energy she brought to any room entered. Especially with her introduction: “Ms Banks is an African rapper from South London, bad bitch, entrepreneur, lover, a fighter. Oh, and yes, a sick rapper.” There was a notable level of realness in her delivery and approach. An ode to her success, there was no care for the way she answered how best to describe herself. 

There was also something rather stoic about her confidence. The natural flow of the conversation wasn’t simply due to my own personal experiences of growing up on the South East side of the city, but rather having the opportunity to speak with someone who was not only confident, but proud to share her story through her own lens. Nothing was off limits for someone who had a sincere appreciation for every moment, influence and memory that had guided her along to the looming doors of the UK music industry. 

Her Nigerian-Ugandan heritage was a massive part of her influence, “both my parents are very patriotic, so I’d say 50/50. I got a lot of my mannerisms from my Ugandan side, but when it comes to my musical influence, I’d say that comes from my Nigerian side,” she continued. “Nigeria, being the African giant that it is, my mum has always encouraged me to portray my Ugandan side too.”

With a noticeable element of patriotism that exuded from her, it made asking the following question all the more interesting, providing a nice segue into what makes Ms Banks, Ms Banks. I find out as I ask, “What is Black excellence to you?”
She responds, “That’s actually a mad question. Black excellence is emotional intelligence, wordplay, natural rhythm, flow, infectious vibes. It’s not intangible, we just naturally have it. We just kill it… naturally. Black music is the beginning and the end of all musical genres. Jazz, Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae, even Pop originates from black music. Our ancestors have been making music from the beginning of time, from the cotton fields to today. We are THAT. We are dem’. We are the culture.”

To read the rest of this interview, purchase a copy of our Summer 2021 issue.

Interview by Victor Davies

Creative Director / Photographer – Eddie Cheaba

Videographer – Bruno Miles

Light Gaffer – Wilbert Lati

Wardrobe director – Kashmir

Stylist – Theydia Bitemo

Stylist Assistant – Nadya Maki

Hair stylist – Isongbeautyuk

Hair Brand – Luxeal London

Nail Technician – Jessica Thompson

Esthetician – Mercedez Jay

Make up artist – Tahiyah Ali

Studio – Blankbox Studio

S/O Satellite414

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