If you’re a reader of the blog, you should know Tye Banks by now. He has a “Five For Friday” feature here, and the Monster Blog review of his album here if you need a refresher. Now here comes Part 3, the interview! Check out below as Tye discusses NC hip hop, sports, and where he’s taking his career. Don’t forget to check out his uber-dopely-put-together site at http://www.tyebanks.com.
First things first, what’s your favorite part about North Carolina?
Tye Banks: I love the fact that it’s still untapped. Sense there’s no set music scene you can pretty much do whatever you want.
What does it mean to you to be an artist from North Carolina in today’s hip hop world?
Tye Banks: It means if you’re serious about your career then you are one of the few. It also means you have to seek out and work with like-minded people. There are a lot of wannabe hustlers so you have to watch out for them because they come in various forms – DJs, Producers, party promoters, and artists. But most importantly, it means you have to be willing to recognize your people (Carolina fans) and embrace them for who they are. North Carolina is in the South and when you try to take the South out of North Carolina, you’re taking yourself away from the people.
Who are your main influences, both in music as a whole, and in NC hip hop?
Tye Banks: My main influences were Go-Go bands, like Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, Rare Essences, and EU, whose music came down from DC. I wanted to be like the MCs that were rocking with the bands. Those MCs could do it all – sing, rap, play instruments, and rock the crowd – so I wanted to be like the Go Go Bands. But when I heard Run DMC, EPMD, Whodini, Ghetto Boys, NWA, Fresh Prince…I knew I was going to be rapping. As far as NC hip hop I’m influenced by a lot of them. I’m a fan of NC hip hop and I love what’s coming out of Fayettenam (Fayetteville, NC) area right now. I like them because they represent the Cack’, they don’t front like they’re from somewhere else. But I listen to a lot of rappers from Carolina like Petey Pablo, Twip, Link, and Al Chancy just to name a few. And the reason why I like those dudes is because they handle their business while pushing forward with this Carolina movement.
Can you elaborate on your “Lost Boyz meets Mayberry” analogy?
Tye Banks: Well it’s an attention grabber for one LOL but I’ve been told by people that I sound like a southern Mr. Cheeks. The Lost Boyz music is party oriented and energetic, and I think my music has that same feel just my approach is a little different. And when Barney Fife (from The Andy Griffith Show) wanted to party, he always came to Raleigh. So I’m the rapper who’s going to rock you when you come to Raleigh! Ha Ha Ha
What’s your favorite local venue to rock a show at? Why?
Tye Banks: I like the Pour House in downtown Raleigh and the Marvell Event Center in Durham. In fact I have show coming up with Crackle Capone Nov 18th at the Marvell Event Center but that date might change, so make sure you check back with me at my site http://www.TyeBanks.com. But I like the Pour House because of how it’s arranged. The stage is in the ideal spot and there is plenty of room for people to dance, drink, and network. The Marvell Event Center has a closer feel. The crowd is right in your face so you get that packed club feel. But don’t get it twisted – I love to perform anywhere I can. There’s nothing like getting on stage and connecting with people. I got to get more shows – I’m addicted to that feeling!
What made you decide to write “Streets Love Nobody”?
Tye Banks: I’m tired of seeing young men go to prison! There’s no future in going to prison. It doesn’t make you a man, it just makes you an ex-con. I’m tired of people acting like it’s some type of rite of passage to go to prison and then get out and have to struggle more. I figure you tell the younger homies the truth and if they decide to seek a career in crime that’s on them. Now as far as the song goes, I was talking to three people I know. On the first verse I was talking to this little dude who I was a mentor at the time who didn’t like school. The second verse I was talking to my little cousin who was caught up in some gang stuff. And the third verse I was talking to my older cousin who had just gotten out of prison. I was just coming from the heart because I don’t want to see any of them doing bad. So I meant ever word in that song.
What song on “Living A Dream” are you most proud of?
Tye Banks: “Sceam Cackalack”. That’s for my Carolina people, North and South!
What song on “Living A Dream” gets the best response from fans?
Tye Banks: You know it just depends on the person. I notice the street dudes are feeling “Scream Cackalack”, people with kids and older people seem to really like “I’m Still Cool” and “Good Time”, the younger crowd (13 and under) like “Gimme A Break”, and even others still are feeling “Running the Show”. But we pushed “I’m Still Cool” first because it was the lead song for the indie film “Nerds of Steele’’. It was more a business decision to push that song first. I wrote that song with Hylandah based on a character in the movie and a couple of my experiences. “I’m Still Cool” got a huge positive response across the board. The video has been featured on several video shows and networks, and in department stores, restaurants, hotels, gyms, and it earned us a semi-finalist spot in the 2008 International Songwriting Competition. Even Pandora had it featured on their site, so I’d have to say “I’m Still Cool” at the moment.
What do you hope to accomplish personally through your music?
Tye Banks: I want people to feel like I did as a kid – and still do – which was connected to the music. I loved it and felt as if the artists were speaking directly to me. I really want to have that type of connection with people.
I love the “regular guy” attitude and feel of your music. Even people who aren’t fans of hip hop can enjoy it. How do you go about making something so universal? Was that the original goal?
Tye Banks: Well I was just trying to represent the Carolinas and make sense at the same time. I don’t care about being the best rapper or trying to impress other rappers because that’ll never happen; no matter how good you are or say you are to another rapper you’ll just be “alright” at best. So why waste my time? I’d rather focus on making music for everyday folks so I write a lot of my songs off my feelings at the time and I think the universal appeal is due to the honesty of the music. I’m not scared to make a hype song, a love ballad, a battle rhyme and then a comedy song. It’s all a part of who I am and I think most people can relate to and appreciate the honesty of it if even if they aren’t hip hop fans.
Are you a sports guy? Break us off with some ACC football and basketball predictions for the upcoming seasons.
Tye Banks: Come on man, I’m from the Triangle you know I’m into sports! ha ha! I don’t really have any solid predictions though. It’s hard to predict in a great conference like the ACC, it’s so balanced now. But in the case of basketball, I think somebody different is going to win it this year. I think Carolina will be up there against them, but I think it will be surprise this year. It’ll probably be a team that’s just OK but play good together like Miami, or maybe even NC STATE ha ha. For football, it’s probably going to go to one of those Florida teams. Florida State is looking good but Miami just proved they are worthy of a ranking. You just never know with the ACC. But don’t be fooled now – we also have the CIAA in this area too. Since I graduated from Shaw you know I had to through that in there LOL.
If you walked into a room and saw Soulja Boy standing by himself, what would you say to him?
Tye Banks: Well I would walk up to him introduce myself, shake his hand and say “Man, congratulations. Much success to you. You got any tips for me?” Ha ha. Pretty much the same approach I would have to any rapper who’s doing what they want to do with their career. Things aren’t as easy as they seem, if you understand the business side then you have to respect that. Soulja Boy fans just don’t like his music they actually love it. So the question would be how did you get them to love you?
What can we expect from Tye Banks in the future?
Tye Banks: More movies, commercials and definitely more music and music videos. We’re already planning the video for the next single from Living A Dream. I’m also a professional actor, been going at it for about 4 years now. I’m in a commercial (NC Lottery and IBM) that is airing right now and just shot another commercial this weekend in Cary. I’m also playing a hit man named Troy in the independent movie “Fish Hook” shooting in Greenville.