Jun 17 2015

Alfred Banks

By: Kevin Quinet

My first show at the venue Gasa Gasa in 2012, I went to see the well-known artist/rapper Mickey Factz who was performing with an artist/rapper I was not familiar with. Throughout the multiple acts before Mickey performed, I heard something special, a performance that stood out among the rest. The man behind this performance was Lyriqs da Lyraciss, or rather the artist formerly known as Lyriqs da Lyraciss, on of our Ones to Watch artists. He has since shed that moniker for his real name, Alfred Banks. I saw him perform at Gasa Gasa again with Mickey Factz in 2014 and we made a connection that has continue on and this is something Mr. Banks does with all of his fans…making connections and building new fans through real, genuine interactions.

From performing with Lupe Fiasco, being featured on MTV, headlining tours, surrounding himself with great producers, management, and connects the sky is the limit. His last album, D.A.I.Y.L.F (Dream As If You’ll Live Forever) was something that is unforgettable and makes an indelible mark on rap with such artistic value which is something the genre has lost presently. Alfred Banks is an artist that brings something new to the table and never forgets from where he started.

With an upcoming album in the works, a new tour with Mickey Factz, a recently released banger of a single called “Right Here” featuring a fellow Complex Magazine Top 10 New Orleans artists to look out for, Pell…2015 is already off to a fast start. I caught up with Mr. Banks at Loyola to discuss his past, present, and future.

WYAT: Before we discuss some questions about your upcoming tour and album, I wanted to pick your brain for a bit.

Alfred Banks: No doubt.

WYAT: The first thing we talked about when I offered you a drink after the show was that you have always been a rapper who sticks with sobriety. Was this a decision you made on your own or from a personal experience that influenced you to make that is an often unheard of mentality in the rap genre that constantly fills their lyrics with such?

AB: I saw from my father hitting drugs pretty heavily, like super heavy. My little brother dabbled in some drugs, but nothing serious. But really what made an impact was in middle school around 7th grade, the D.A.R.E. Bear came to our school and that sh*t struck accord with me. I said, you know what…I don’t have to drink or smoke…and I just never did and never have. I just never had interest in it and beer even smells whack.

In regards to your question about rappers always talking about drinking, smoking, and such…what’s crazy is that I’m one of the few that doesn’t do it. There are some in my crew that drink, but in small commodities. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded with people who don’t do that stuff.

WYAT: What did your times at Loyola teach you?

AB: It definitely taught me the business. Professor Kirk Synder and others taught me how to monetize music and Youtube was kind of new. Found out about CDbaby, a music distribution site. It taught me what not to do when networking with people, because I used to be a complete a-hole and wanted everyone to know I rap. And that’s when I met G-Eazy who ran the whole campus. I found myself here; made a decision to become a man here also. School is very vital, which is why I wish I could go back. 2 ½ years, second semester of 2011. I had to leave or I’d be homeless. Even with a degree. I don’t regret it. I was 17-18 paying rent for my mother’s house, came home one day and she said we’re getting evicted so I hope you have somewhere to stay. Next day, we had to move our stuff out the house, and I was living crib to crib and actually slept two nights in Audubon Park. And slept in some friends dorms. I stacked some bread, bought a house, and been in the Garden District ever since

WYAT: Is it true that you opened for Lupe Fiasco?

AB: Opened it up at Xavier University during Food & Liquor 2, and I was in a group called New Renaissance. They gave us one song and then we took one of his songs and remixed it and wrote a verse about what he wrote on the song, and he lost his dad on the song called “Fighters.” I lost my dad so I wrote a verse about that.

WYAT: How did you hook up with Mickey Factz?

AB: I saw Mickey Factz at Traffic Boutique in 09’ and kicked a freestyle (Mickey Factz At Traffic Boutique) first time I ever met him. And said, "One day, I'm going to f*ck with you, ya did ya thing." Flash forward to year later, I opened for him at Ampersand. During Dark Phoenix. Opened for him 3 times then in 2012, I paid a thousand dollars out my pocket to bring him down. NOLA and BR. BR didn’t go well. So in 2013, I opened for him and was featured on mtv.com for the first time. After mtv.com, I realized I was more reputable and I was talking to myself, and I thought that I need to do something epic. I was touring already, but it was more like the south, I did Philly before, I did Pittsburgh, Denver, Boulder, and Colorado city but then came back. I wanna really tour but I need a draw, I need someone experienced.

WYAT: On the side of business/cd selling, what is the most profitable for up and coming artists?

AB: Hand to hand. Period. The bread is there, but more important than that is I get to talk to the person. I don’t even have to sell you anything. If I could just talk to you and you know that I exist and I can give you a flyer…whether you ball it up and throw it away or you actually check out what’s on it…I made that connection. So hand-to-hand is the best way. I probably sold 6-700 records hand to hand. The most profitable in more ways than one for sure.

WYAT: What has been the craziest experience of your 2015 campaign?

AB: Mobile, Alabama. First of all, it was my fifth time going there and they showed me so much love. This time when I performed at Soul Kitchen was the first time I headlined. It's like the Howlin’ Wolf of Bama. People lined up all  around the corner of the venue. Not like the past four times. Made the most money out of merch that I’ve ever made.

WYAT: What makes you do what you do? What makes your make music?

AB: All I ever wanted to do is make music that invokes emotion.

WYAT: One of your songs off of your last album D.A.Y.L.F., “Vertigo,” seemed like a sure-fire radio hit…did it ever get radio-play and do you ever have the intention of making radio hits?

AB: To make the radio, not only do you have to have a banger, but a lot of money is needed to put it on. I could do that, but it’s not what I want to be. I wrote “Vertigo” because I loved the beat. I never want people to think that I make things to be a mainstream hit. Coming back from SXSW in 2012, my friend was playing me some beats and he turned the beat for “Vertigo.” My producer CZA, he produced the D.A.I.Y.L.F record and I said I want that beat. I got home and listened to it and cried. Still hurt about losing my dad, just had my first appearance on mtv.com, and the lyrics just spilled out. One of the most heartfelt record I’ve ever done.

WYAT: How do you go about writing songs? Notebook? Top of your head?


AB: Nah, I stopped writing in notebooks three years ago, I write on my iphone.

WYAT: So…any details on the new album?

AB: The new album will be nuts…I’m so excited. I’m planning it to be just as effective as Mickey Factz’s concept tape MAUSE. There’s a lot of emotion behind it, there’s a storyline to it. I lost my brother in March and that has a lot to do with the driving force behind the album.

WYAT: So your new single is under your real name, Alfred Banks. Will the upcoming album be under your real name, as well?

AB: Yes, I’m Alfred Banks now. Lyriqs da Lyraciss is dead.

WYAT: What is behind your decision to switch your name?

AB: I’ve gotten older; I don’t need my name to say I can rap. Just listen to the music. I outgrew my alias. The name put me in a one-dimensional box.

WYAT: How excited are you about the Mickey Factz and Alfred Banks tour starting in New Orleans on July 11th at Gasa Gasa?

AB: I’m always excited to hit the road. Performance is the most important part of music and it’s my bread and butter…and of course doing a show with Mickey is always super tight.

You can get your tickets for the July 11th show at Gasa Gasa with Mickey Factz, DJ Strategy, Marcel P Black, & Pluto at http://www.gasagasa.com/events/ and connect with him on Twitter: @underdogcentral, his site: underdogcentral.com, facebook.com/UnderdogCentral

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