ms banks unleashes black girl magic on her new single
She’s got that hocus pocus!
“I get love from the youngers, get respect from the olders/Black girl magic, I’ve got that hocus pocus/Oh I’m so focused, let me dust off my shoulders…” Ms Banks, Come Thru, 2018.
Actually, allow us to do that for you, Thyra Banks AKA Ms Banks of the Walworth Road, south east London. When i-D first featured the 23-year-old rhymer back in 2014, she was a rap ingénue with one mixtape -- Once Upon a Grind -- to her name. Since then she’s lit up Charlie Sloth’s Fire in the Booth and worked with funky house legend Donaeo on Day Ones, her pal Stefflon Don on Uno My Style and joined Stormzy and JME for a remix of Tinie Tempah’s Been The Man. In December 2017, Ms Banks awoke to a furious phone buzzing with notifications thanks to a string of tweets from Nicki Minaj complimenting Banks on her verse of Stylo G’s Yu Zimme (remix).
“I was like, what’s going on, why is everyone congratulating me? Then I saw Nicki had quoted lyrics from the track and I was like, pinch me, is this real?” The pair quickly slid into the DMs. “We started going back and forth in private, having a dialogue. She was amazing. We were talking about her tour and finding out when that’s gonna start. There’s some other stuff in the pipeline too but I wanna keep that a secret.”
Determined to start 2018 strong, Ms Banks is readying a brand new EP, The Coldest Winter Ever, based on the 1999 novel of the same name by the American rapper and author Sister Souljah. The book centers on the trials and tribulations of Winter Santiago, a troubled young woman trying to make it in the depths of Brooklyn, with Souljah’s voice acting as a guide, one that wild Winter often ignores. “I read the book when I was about 13. I couldn’t watch TV cos my aunty was really strict but she saw me absorbed in this story. Little did she know it was juicier than what was on TV!” she says of the best seller that features sex, miscarriages, murder, robbery, drug deals and plenty more in-between. “I loved it, loved it, loved it. Growing up and going through certain things, there were little parts of the story I could relate to. I feel like she’s exposed to a lot in her young life and I can relate to that, whether boys and sex, violence, drugs... ” says the SE17 resident. Banks has based her EP on the idea of her own inner voice guiding her -- but to the path of righteousness and success, rather than the sticky end Winter comes to. “She’s coming from nothing to something and she wants to be great, like we all do, but she doesn’t go about it the right way, unfortunately. I’m coming to something from nothing as well, but I’m trying to do it in the right way.”
The EP title also relates directly to Thyra, who had her heart broken last year. “I was all buddied up in the summer and now I’m single and it’s freezing, in every sense,” she sighs. “Heartbreak was something really new to me. From my side it was all perfect and then that was all taken away from me. That’s what hurts the most; thinking your love is all good and then it’s taken from you. That whole experience made my winter extra cold.”
The EP’s first release is Come Thru, produced by The Fanatix and premiering today on i-D. The effervescent track celebrates the idea of black girl magic. “I love my ladies of all colours but there’s something about the melanin, there’s something about the magic of the black girl that’s so special,” she says. “It’s crazy because I feel like a lot of the time people don’t see our beauty so I like to remind them and let them know. I’m just reminding people about that chocolate, that’s all.”
Over the EP’s four tracks, Banks touches on Libya and love, sex and death, female friendships and living your best life; she’s as confident as ever, but vulnerable too. “I want young black girls to know I’ve come from south London, I’ve been through stuff, I’ve seen things. I’ve been knocked down so many times, but I’ve always stood back up. You can do the same. No matter what you’re going through in life, no matter who you wanna be, you can be great. You might not think I go through the things you go through, but I do. Every time I get knocked back down I stand back up. I’m gonna do big things and you can do it too. That’s my message to young black girls, to all girls, but to young black girls especially.”
Come Thru is just a taster of what’s to come from the EP, due for release next week. There’s plenty of Banks’s trademark confidence, witty one-liners and taut double entendres, and there’s certainly a more politically active artist coming through on The Coldest Winter Ever. “Recently I’ve started to talk more about things that are important to me,” she agrees. “A lot of time I don’t want to speak on things but I’m noticing more and more things happening and it’s starting to build up. People make you feel like you can’t have an opinion, that you should stick to making music. But I feel like I have a platform, I have a voice and I have a heart and if I feel like I should speak on something then I will,” she insists. “You have to use your platform to stand up for your people and that’s something I’m definitely about. If you’re not standing for nothing then you’ll fall for anything."