Alternative curator, Rocky Banks, brings an incomparable and unpredictable sound to the table. His uncanny versatility and word-play makes it difficult to put a cap on his ability as an artist. Keeping listeners on the edge as he bounces through intricate instrumentals, disguising himself through multiple alternating egos, Banks is one artist that creates a vivid picture with his lyrics and eloquent content. His latest release, an album titled “Big Little Brother“, is out now. Have a listen to “Tony Hawk” from the drop embedded below.
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Chris Remmers: Kicking it off with Houston, what really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor in the surrounding area?
Rocky Banks: Houston means a lot to me, mostly for what we stand for. We were the originators of a lot of things in hip-hop, coming in with our flavor and making waves the way we did. That was something that is really, really important to me. We never really did anything that anybody else was doing to be accepted. I think that shaped me into being a stand-up cat, because there’s a lot of love and hospitality down here. At the same time, we don’t take [anything] either.
If I was sending somebody to get a taste of what the city’s really about, I would send them to the Screwed Up [Records & Tapes] Shop in the South Side. The South Side is where you’re going to really get your flavor of what’s really going on.
CR: I’ll have to check that out next time I’m there. What was your first, real exposure to music? How did you eventually get inspired to create your own and pursue it as a career?
RB: I’ve really been around music my whole life. I know that’s cliché to say, but growing up in an African American household, there’s always music playing the house. I grew up on Michael Jackson. As far as I’m concerned, Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer of all time. Watching the things that he did, at the level he did and to now be considered the greatest, is what inspired me. I used to be the kid at every family reunion that they would tell to get out there and do the Michael Jackson. That was me. I really started diving into hip-hop right around the sixth grade — Jay-Z and Nas. That’s when I really started diving in and putting the pen to the paper.
CR: The classics, some of my favorites too. To create music, and be able to travel to promote it, must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful or meaningful part that you cherish about it? Does the travel help you inspirationally?
RB: Hell yeah, man. You’d lose your mind staying in the same place. You’ve got to get out there traveling and exchanging energy with different people. The cultures are so different in other places. You’d be ignorant to a lot of things if you didn’t travel. You may not know how to act in different situations, or think on a different creative level. I think feeling the energy of people that’s out there that you don’t feel on a day-to-day basis is the best part to me.
CR: I agree! Now, you just dropped your album “Big Little Brother” February 5th. What was your overall vision and goal for this release? Describe your excitement to play it live for your fans.
RB: Man, my overall goal was to really start my journey. I wanted to show that I have the ability to make music that’s going to reach – universal. The special part has been seeing how people gravitated to it and have said to me, “This song really made me feel like this.” How quick it was too. The amount of reception I got back was amazing, literally as soon as I dropped it. It was overwhelming, because I know how much emotion and blood, sweat and tears I put into it. So, to see people get the same emotion that I got, that was crazy.
CR: That’s awesome man! I’m sure there can be no greater feeling than to get out there, play something that you wrote from the heart and watch the people jive with it. That’s fantastic.
RB: It is. It’s also a blessing, because a lot of people don’t understand how hard it is to have the pressure, it’s not really even pressure, but it’s a responsibility. You have people out there that really believe in what you’re saying. If they’re not interpreting it the way you want it to be put out, then that’s a blow to your expectations. It’s a disappointment. When that happens you just have to embrace the Man upstairs, and take it one step at a time.
CR: Of course. Now, listening to music is whole part of traveling. What radio stations would you suggest people tune into when visiting Houston?
RB: Growing up it was 97.9 The Box. That was the number one radio station until 93.7 The Beat Houston came in a few years ago. It gave the city a new, overall reach of different types of sounds. More underground artists were played. I think 93.7 would be a good radio station to listen to when you come here. But, definitely shout out to 97.9 The Box, there’s a lot of OG’s over there.
CR: Where’s really the spot in or outside the city that you really go to get away and get take some time to yourself?
RB: To be honest with you, my granny’s house man. If I want to get away from everything, don’t want anybody to know what’s going on with me or just want to relax, I’ll go there. She always understands what’s going on with me. Nobody is there asking you a million and one questions about [things] you don’t want to talk about. It’s just love.
CR: Trust me, I can understand that. On the flip side, where do you go when you’re looking to turn up? Where do you go to have a good time?
RB: We can turn up anywhere! If there’s a bottle there, there’s good energy and there’s a way we can put music on, it’s a party anywhere. There’s not one place. We’re turning up everywhere, all the time.
CR: That’s what I like to hear! So, I know food in Houston, specifically the barbeque, is renowned worldwide. First, what type of food do you like? Where would be the eatery that you would tell them to go get it?
RB: Man, if you’re looking for some fried chicken, you’ve got to go to the original Frenchy’s. Me personally, if I were to tell someone to go somewhere though it would be Mikki’s Soul Food. Ask any celebrity that has been to Mikki’s and I bet you they will rave about it.
RB: My number one dish? I’m going to get some meatloaf, mashed potatoes and candied yams. That is crack. Once you take one bite of candied yams there you’ll forget everything else on the plate and just eat those. That’s what I’m talking about. If you ever come to Houston, you’ve got to go there.
CR: You’re making me hungry. What are some of the artists that you’re listening to now? Do you ever go through periods where you switch up the genre?
RB: I mess with anyone who has energy. Anyone trying to spread positive energy. I love a whole range of music, and I love finding new artists. I’m listening to every genre. It doesn’t matter. I’m all over the place.
CR: Absolutely, finding different genres and artists, then putting people on them, is the best. Lastly, to wrap this up, what do the next few months have in store for you?
RB: The next few months we’ll be working on some [music] videos. We’ll be going to SXSW. We’re just going to be playing music. We’ll just be out there trying to spread positive energy.