Music Bear Tony Banks describes himself as a gay, black man with the fun of Missy Elliot, the swag of LL Cool J and the dance moves of Heavy D. His new single, “Static”, the first single from his upcoming album, Yes, Homo, is a funky hip-hop song about breaking free from a clingy relationship. He’ll perform it live at his first NYC concert Friday, July 21st at Lovecraft Bar.
Music Bear Tony Banks knows a thing or two about breaking free from relationships. He and his ex are in the midst of divorce, although their separation is not due to the level of destruction Music Bear raps about in “Static.” “Our relationship may have grown stale and staticky, to the point where we had to go our own ways, but we remain friends and that’s important,” he says. “We still support and want the best for one another.”
He points out that not all the songs he writes are about his life. “I’m often inspired by people around me, and now and then, I’ll use their lives as subjects for songs. For me, the power of music is about writing something I know someone out there needs to hear or feel me say.”
Still, he tries to stay true to who he is as a man and an artist. You’ll rarely, if ever, hear Music Bear Tony Banks rhyming about “Popping Bottles” (he barely drinks) or “Fighting Bitches” (not his style). In his upcoming album, “Yes Homo,” he tackles issues like love, lust, partying, the state of hip-hop and police brutality. It’s meant to be a full depiction of what it means to be a black, gay, male, hip-hop artist in 2017
Music Bear Tony Banks was born in Brooklyn in the early 80’s. He grew up during the golden era of hip-hop and believes that at its core, hip-hop is love. It’s soulful, empowering, fun, beautiful and caring.
The music industry, however, is another monster all together. “The industry turns hip-hop into a misogynistic, homophobic creature that sells its soul for the promise of money, cars and hoes,” he says. “It then turns the people in it into that same image. Remember, hate is a learned behavior. No one is born homophobic but when hip-hop spreads that message to millions of people, for decades, it catches on and it’s hard to break away from.”
The LGBT community is not much better, he contends. “As a black, gay man of size, I sometimes feel ostracized from my gay brothers and sisters. I used to think that if I were a different type of gay, a more stereotypical skinny boy and fancy dresser, I would have it easier in the community.”
But Music Bear has come to learn that being different isn’t always a bad thing.
“What I hope people who listen to my music and watch my videos take from me as an artist is: Don’t be afraid. Embrace something different every once in a while. Break from monotony. Cut the static. You might just enjoy it! In fact, I know you will.”