He might have only picked up the mic a couple of years ago, but Benny Banks has taken the UK Rap scene by storm. Signed to 679/ Warners, he's worked with Maverick Sabre and toured with Dappy, while his debut single, Bada Bing! is causing so much hype that schools have rung Benny's label to complain about kids playing the song in class! G-Shock meets the 24 year-old Londoner to find out how he does the damn thing!
You haven't been rapping for that long. How/why did you getting into it?
To be honest, I was kind of wasted, jamming with my friends, and I just started rhyming along to some mixtape that was on. My friends were like ‘Yeah, you’re alright’! I was just mucking about really. A few months later, I saw this guy in the street - I thought it was Fazer from N-Dubz. It wasn't! It was Zee, who ran ZEE TV, but I recognised him from there. I told him I was a rapper, and he laughed and told me to call him when I was sober! A few months later, he was managing me and from there I did Charlie Sloth, SBTV, dropped my mixtape, Patiently Waiting and then late last year, I got signed!
What sort of music were you bought up on?
I grew up on Eminem, up to Jay-Z and then Wiley and his Eskimo Dance on the pirates. Also Skinnyman, Giggs, Swiss, Joe Black, Klashnekoff. I’d listen to grime on a Saturday. I wasn’t any good at grime, vocally, so I waited for rap; I like listening to grime, but it’s not my story as a rapper. Back then, hip hop was dead, so there was a wait until rap, like we do now, really came through. In Islington, we had Joe Black like Peckham had Giggs but outside of that there wasn't loads of people really doing it. Now it’s on every corner and every estate in London. Every kid wants to rap now.
So are you a 'Road Rapper', an MC...?
I’m an artist first and foremost. If I have to be put into an MC category I’d say I’m ‘Reality Rap’. I don’t see road rap as particularly positive, so I’m really trying to move away from that. I want to make music to inspire people. I’m just your normal youth. My music is the everyday struggle; not having food in the cupboard or hot water for a bath, everyone can relate to that. I’m the best of myself, I’m real to me. I’m the realist. I don’t lie.
How do you plan to progress from hot on the street to established MC?
I’ve got to conquer it to get away from it. I think a couple of more Bada Bing's should do the job. Think of me as Dennis the Menace or Oliver Twist, the Artful Dodger; I’m a working class kid using my smarts to get by [grins]. I’m not a thug, I’m not a gangsta, but lock up your sons and daughters cos I might just cause a bit of trouble while I’m here. I’m a tearaway!
Do you have any good stories from the Dappy tour?
You know what, everyone thinks he’s some big party animal rock star, but he’s laidback. We just chilled out on the tour bus really, there weren’t no parties. But I did enjoy myself. I learnt a lot too. I think I can go onstage myself now and rap and look at the crowd without sunglasses. I learnt that you just say ‘Dappy’ and they go nuts! I’ve got ideas about how I want to do my own show.
What's next for you?
I'm doing the Mac Miller tour in March, which I'm looking forward to, and then the single/ EP is out that month too. It’s competitive out there right now, but I’m ready to win. Statistically I am the best [laughs]. It might sound ignorant for me to say that, but I’ve only just started rapping and the response has been incredible. If I win 5-0 at football, I’m not going to tell you I won 3-0. This is just the warm-up, I’ve got a lot more lined-up!
Bada Bing! is out 5 March