We know the boxes women in rap are still placed in. And they're looking quite dusty.
They're the same old tropes. There's the "pink wig, thick ass, give em whiplash" rapper; the queen in the tight body suit who thinks big, gets cash and makes em blink fast while shredding her monumental verse on a collaborative single alongside an assembly of male peers. There's the "queen bitch, supreme bitch", who delivers a hailstorm of unapologetically aggressive bars without breaking a sweat over thunderous bass. The boisterous party-starter - the kind to put her thing down, flip it and reverse it. And of course, the beautifully conscious role-model, warning other young girls on the come-up to watch out for "that thing."
But while all iconic in their own right, London emcee Ms Banks isn't interested in existing in spaces already occupied - particularly if they come with boundaries. There's room for all and there's room to be it all, especially in a time where the UK rap scene has claimed international interest. And with upcoming performance slots, the release of new music and more in the works, the voracious young artist is ready to tell her own story in her own multifaceted way.
I heard you were stuck in traffic.
I was but I'm free to chat now. I was actually in Lewisham and I just came back to my house. But funny enough, I'm actually still learning how to drive so that's why I couldn't actually answer my phone. I'm always driving in different areas and testing it out. I have my driving test coming soon. Everyone wish me luck.
Oh good luck, girl. You're farther than me. I'm a terrible driver who should probably never get a license ever again.
I'm really trying to learn. I feel like I'm confident in other areas while driving, but Lord help me. I'm getting there.
So let me guess, as soon as you get your licence, the first thing you're going to do is shoot a music video of you driving this crazy whip.
Yep, straight away. I love cars so much, so I really need to. It would probably be a Ferrari. Either red or pink. I'm aiming really high. It's such a fast car but I would love to drive a Ferrari just peeling down an open road. Oh my god, it would be epic.
Speaking of videos, you just dropped your latest clip. 'OMG.' Is that how you would describe life lately?
Literally. Just everything lately makes me say "oh my gosh." From the beats I'm hearing to the crowd reactions at the shows to the clothes that my stylist keeps putting me in. Everything, life has really been crazy.
Tell me about the new song specifically. You can tell at the beginning of the song, you got so gassed from it, which gave you the inspiration to kill the rest of it. What is the backstory behind the track and why you felt it necessary to jump on it as aggressively as you did?
I felt like it took me back to when I was younger, how I felt when I first started hearing grime. I hardly get stuff in my inbox that I get excited over but it was sent to me by a DJ I know and I heard it and I was literally going crazy in the studio. That's obviously where the hook came from. I felt like I had to go hard on it because I was tired of feeling boxed in from people who thought I could only do hip-hop tempos. I'm very good at grime. I was doing it. That's how I started writing; to those types of beats. Also, I felt like after my Fire in the Booth, I had a lot to still prove. Every time I get on a song, I'm trying to show them that it's better than my last. That's what I wanted to show people who underestimate me. I can jump on grime. I can jump on any genre. And I can have fun with it and still make it a banger.
What was the vision for the video with the track and what did you enjoy most about putting it together?
It's the second video that I directed myself. That was really fun. Also, I love it based on the energy. As much as it's about the girl that's about to lead the race, when I heard it, it made me think of F1 and people racing. That's what I wanted to portray. And then I imagined me on the blocks of my estate. I don't know where it came from but I just listened to the song and whatever I pictured in my brain, I thought, I'm going to have to portray this in the video. I think my favourite part was being the race girl. Like I said, I love cars. It was fun.
What else are you working on at the moment?
My next release, which I think is going to be another fun party vibe, I'm in the process of shooting the treatment and we're gonna get to shooting hopefully next week. And hopefully, people are going to hear another project from me. I've been working on a few bits that are all around the same genre but it's me showing my versatility but in a bit more packaged way. So that's three genres I've been working on mostly and I've got a lot of songs that sound like that. So I'll hopefully be putting out another project in the coming months.
How would you describe the creative place you're in right now as you work on all this new stuff?
For me, it's amazing because I'm being a bit more free with myself. I know there's been a lot of change in my life that got me to here but I'm just a bit more carefree to a point where I can finally say what I want to say - whether I want to be a bitch or I want to show my vulnerable side, I can just be me. And it's really good. I feel really good.
And it's so important for women in hip-hop to be able to show those multifaceted sides. You don't have to play a role.
Yeah, I feel like they have to label us. You have to be witty and funny. Or you have to be bossy and bad. You have to conscious and fully clothed. These little boxes that they try and put you in. But I'm just everything I want to be. Every day is new.
Which is refreshing. Especially in a time where so many international eyes are on the UK rap scene at the moment. What place do you feel like you occupy that no other artist can claim?
I feel like I am really the story of the girl that is working on coming from nothing to something. And as much as everyone is, what I've experienced in my life, I don't think a lot of girls have. And the ones that have, I feel like I can be a comfort to them in just knowing and hearing what happened to me and what I've been through. And I'm still strong. Me telling my story and showing where I come from is what sets me apart.
And it's what's garnered you this authentic attention already. From your Warm Up Sessions to the aggressive energy on your latest track, you're already known for these stories and these brave bars. To you, what does fearlessness in writing look like and how has it evolved
The fearlessness in my writing comes from me being vulnerable and putting my stuff on the line. Saying what wasn't my fault and admitting the things that I'm responsible for. I just go for it. Basically, I've gone from telling the negatives from my story and it seemed like there was never a way out or a light at the end of the tunnel. Whereas now, every time I give you the backstory, I always show the positives. There's always a positive ending. I'm showing that I'm still going. All the positives are why I've evolved as a person and that's what's helped my writing evolve as well.
Another thing people can take away from you is the way you support other women while still being unapologetically yourself. How important are your friendships in this industry with people like Stefflon Don to navigating the craziness of it?
I feel like they're really important because it can be hard for a female in what we do. It can be hard. If you're not supporting your fellow women or the people that you like, there's no point in doing it. Because at the end of the day, we're all trying to be successful. We're all trying to spread our message global. We're all trying to feed our families. If it's going to help your views or more people seeing your song or telling someone about you then I want to do it. We're all going through the same struggles. We stand taller united. As long as it's genuine, why not support them?