Ryan Shea's picture

How Gay Rapper Tony Banks is Changing the Face of the Hip-Hop Industry

Change can be a good thing, as it can be seen that something has to happen in order to make something work or even a fresh idea that one may not have thought of before.  Hip-Hop music has primarily been seen as something that straight heterosexual men have conquered over the past three or four decades, with gay men barely able to get their hands on that illustrious mic of success.  Those days are gone and over, and Tony Banks is one of those dudes who is ready to change the game. 

Tony has been in music for many years now, touring around the country and at major LGBT related festivals to promote his upbeat and lyrically fantastic music to the masses.  We even featured him last month in an article on the emergence of gay rappers in the industry, as he is truly one to watch as his star blossoms.

We recently sat down with Tony to discuss what sets him apart from others in his genre, his favorite artists, why one particular song he did has a special place in his heart, and why he thinks millennials will be the ones to ultimately push forward the LGBT movement in the hip-hop world.  Check it out. 

What sets you apart from other artists in your genre? 

Too many artists follow trends just because it's the popular thing. That's not me. I love being a throwback artist. Not many artists are still rapping while giving you full choreography and talking about topics other than your haters over and over again.

Can you describe your kind of sound and what influenced it?

Black Eyed Peas meets LL Cool J. I like to mix sounds, textures and topics in my music, while still giving you that sexy swag. I can give you a little backpack rap or make you jam out to a house beat. From police brutality to making love. Being raised in the 80's and 90's, I always appreciated various styles of music. I expanded beyond hip-hop at a young age. 

What's your favorite song you've ever done? 

That's hard to say as so many are my favorite, but I'm really loving "Cloud 9" cause it features my partner towards the end. It was his first time ever recording.  It’s something special we share.

Who are your top three favorite artists of all time?

Michael Jackson, Prince and Missy Elliott

Why hasn't a gay man really conquered the hip-hop game as of late?

Well for many reasons, the main one being support from the mainstream black community, but on the flip side the bar of success in this industry has changed so much. Many LGBT artists are doing some amazing things as hip-hop artists. Everything from late-night TV to mainstream radio to touring the world. Some of the hottest artists you may never hear on the radio. LGBT included. No longer does the 'industry" dictate what is good or bad, but the machine is still the machine.

Do you see homophobia ever minimizing or disappearing completely from not only the hip-hop industry but the music industry overall?

When the 90's babies die off and millennials take over, then you will get that freedom. You can tell because of all the mainstream artists they are accepting now who may be seen as queer or queer-friendly. You have men kissing men on album covers. There are artists wearing flashy clothing made by gay designers. Some even coming out as gay, bi-, etc. The time will come. Remember, hip-hop is still a baby at 44 years old. And look at all its gone through. There’s still lots of room for growth.

On a separate note: whose your celebrity crush?

Idris Elba and Russell Crowe.

What bunk do you prefer in the bedroom?

Top but have been known to bunk hop now and then.

Favorite type of snack?

Kit Kat and Peanut M&M.

Anything else you want to add?

Don't be afraid to try something new. You might just like it!

For more information on Tony Banks, click here