Two summers ago was the first time that 21-year-old Dallas rapper Erica Banks had even stepped inside a recording studio. Within those two summers, however, this lightening-tongued lyricist craftily carved out her own lane in underground rap.
In a year’s time, she singlehandedly dropped three jaw-dropping mixtapes, attracted thousands of online fans via her freestyle videos, on social media, and recently inked a deal with 1501 Certified Entertainment, the fastest-growing independent label in the country. And now with her newest single “Buss It” bubbling hotter than lava, this honey-complexioned goddess has already proved her staying power in the rap game.
“Some people got the look but not the sound. Some people got the sound but not the look,” she explains, “but with me having both, it makes people stop and pay attention to what I got going on.”
Erica’s flawless beauty and natural talent have had people paying attention to her since she was a pretty little girl in bobos and pigtails. Born and raised in the ritzy Dallas suburb of Desoto, Erica grew up the middle child between two boys. Blessed with brains and innocent beauty, Erica excelled in everything that she put her mind to.
Whether performing in plays for theatre arts class, spiking balls over the net on the volleyball team, or boosting morale as a cheerleader and on the drill team, Erica has been brimming with talents that equaled her academic excellence in the classroom. “I always loved being on stage,” she admits. “I was always performing in a school play or engaged in something athletic. I was always involved in something that would show off my talents.”
Out of all her many attributes, young Erica’s first and most enduring love was writing poetry. Since she was in elementary school, she kept a journal of her poems and by middle school, she began reciting her best work in poetry slams at her every opportunity.
By the time she turned 12 years old, her poetry had evolved into writing raps. And every day during school recess, kids would crowd around the adolescent wordsmith to see whether she would spit some poetry or raps. It was during one of these impromptu performances that Erica discovered a talent that she did not even know she possessed.
“I was at my high school picnic in the ninth grade, and they wanted me to rap,” she laughs. “I didn’t have anything written down at the time but some poetry, so I went with what came off the top of my head. It sounded good, and they liked it.”
Shortly after, she began posting her freestyle raps on Instagram. Her views went from only a handful of likes a day to hundreds to thousands and even tens of thousands.
“I couldn’t believe that so many people were interested in my music,” Erica confesses. “But when I saw people were interested, I just started posting videos all the time.”
Between recording videos and writing poetry, Erica graduated from Desoto High School in 2017. The following Fall semester, she enrolled in Texas A&M Commerce to study nursing but later changed her major to business. She had a solid 4.0 grade point average, was inducted into the Honors College, and worked a part-time job in the mall for extra cash.
Everything was seemingly going perfectly, but Erica was not happy. Between classes, studying, and work, she did not have enough time to make her music. So after careful consideration, she quit her job and quit school during her sophomore year to concentrate on that burning fire inside of her that would not subside.
“I wasn’t happy, and school was hard,” she explains. “I stopped going to class and was just kicking it every day. And I realized that this was not what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to be a nurse. I didn’t know what kind of business I wanted to own. I was so stressed out.”
When she finally broke the news to her parents, they were not happy at all, but after explaining to them how important music was to her life, they eventually stood behind their little girl and backed her up 100 percent.
“When I left school, my parents were kind of upset,” she recalls, “but once they saw that things were working out for me, they were more easygoing about it. So they were always supportive…I was like ‘if this works, I’m going to leave school alone,’ and that’s what happened.”
She uploaded her first single “Talk My Shit” to SoundCloud in early 2018 and follow-up single “No Hook” before releasing her stellar debut mixtape Art of the Hustle to rave reviews. She came back with mixtapes Cocky on Purpose and Pressure to an ever-increasing fanbase.
One of those fans was Houston-based 1501 Certified Entertainment CEO and former MLB All-Star Carl Crawford. The two made contact with each other one night when Crawford was going live on Instagram and allowing new artists the opportunity to showcase their music. One after another, he listened to aspiring artists showcase their best music. Although the label CEO was impressed by the music he had heard from the other artists, he was blown completely away by what he heard when Erica’s turn came around.
“When Carl clicked on me for us to go live together, I played my newest single ‘Buss It’ for him,” Erica says. “He liked it. A couple of weeks after the live, he reached out to me and asked if I was signed to any other label. I told him no, and that’s when he decided to sign me to his team.
She continues, “I was excited. I didn’t know what to expect. All of this was new for me. But I was definitely interested in what he had to talk about.”
Erica went to Houston with her parents to sign the paperwork, and the rest (as they say) is history. “We met on the Live but come to find out, he had been watching me,” Erica divulges. “He already knew who I was before the live came about. And then as a plus, somebody in his camp knew me as well. So it was kind of like a win-win.”
Now the 1501 Certified Entertainment machine is backing her latest single “Buss It” and an as-yet-untitled album on the horizon, Erica Banks will soon introduce the world to her slick-tongued, off-the-cuff flow that knows no boundaries. Without question, she is in the perfect position to commence a new regime in rap music.
“Some of my music is rough but classy. Some days I make trap music. Some days I make love music. Some of it is flat out nasty,” she points out. “I do everything. I’m versatile. To put it plain and simple, I make turn-up music.”