She’s beauty, she’s grace, she’s Ms. Baha Bank$. A musician. A sustainability queen and a mother. Baha is many things, and average is not one of them. Born and bred on the Southside of Chicago, Baha has known since she was a kid she was going to live an extraordinary life and that she would never settle.
”I’m not okay with settling,” said Bank$. “I’ve always been like “I was never supposed to be ordinary,” I just knew it from the beginning.”
A true creative, Baha grew up singing in church, playing the alto saxophone and piano. She did ballet, tap, and jazz for 13 years, and on the weekends her mom would drive her to Hammond, IN to compete in robotics competitions.
“I don’t play about my education, whether it’s street smarts or book smarts, you need to know it all.“Baha Bank$
Baha is in control. She is fully aware that she is the creator, the director, the head writer, and the star of her life. Everything she’s wanted, she’s worked for and received. She got pregnant in college and that didn’t stop anything. She took her final a few hours before she was scheduled to give birth.
Then the pandemic happened and threw everyone for a loop. However, Baha turned 2020’s lemons into lemonade. She graduated from Roosevelt University with a degree in biology and sustainability during the pandemic.
Cut to 2021 and Ms. Bank$ is unstoppable. She dropped her debut album, “Big Bank“, 3 months ago and it already has 2 million streams. Between performing, writing, building her brand, and flipping apartments to go green in the city, Bank$ is paving the way for other multifaceted creatives.
“This music stuff is not easy at all but I don’t like to struggle nor do I like to fail in front of people, so when I do something I always put my all into it,” said Bank$.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Baha Bank$ via Zoom a few weeks ago. We talked about her debut album, Chicago, her family, and what’s next for her as we traverse throughout this pandemic. Check out the full interview below.
Your name means “splendor and glorious”. Do you think you imbue this energy in your music?
Yes, I just think when I talk I’m the finest of everything. Like anything I’m doing….just luxurious. Even when I’m talking my -ish, it’s luxury, top of the top, best of the best…royalty. Queen of Chicago.
I preach self-love, if you don’t love yourself no one will. In all my music, I want girls to feel like they the top, A1. Not top five!
How has your training in religious and classical music influenced your hip-hop artistry?
“With my songs, I always pick my own beats and I think it’s part of the reason I’m more open to different sounds. I’m one of those people who can hear like “that’s a trumpet or that’s a saxophone or oh is that a flute?” A lot of people can’t do that because they can’t differentiate between the different instruments. My background has allowed me to be more well-rounded when it comes to making my music. I try to appeal to everyone and I look to those different sounds because I don’t want a flat beat or anything.
How did the pandemic affect you creatively, or do you feel like you’re not equipped to answer that question because you started grinding (music-wise) during the pandemic?
It gave me the ability to really lock in and dedicate myself to the craft. The pandemic really gave me the opportunity to really focus. It really gave me time.
I know you’ve mentioned that your grandma used to tell you that “idle time is the devil’s playground.” Do you feel like her saying that is one of the reasons you’re so driven and such a hustler?
100% because even now I take that philosophy that she put in my head and that’s how I raise my daughter. My daughter is in ballet, gymnastics, and she takes voice lessons now! She decided she wanted to be a singer, this week. So I’m just like let’s do these voice lessons cause I’m just supporting her dreams.
I think it had a positive and big impact on my life because I see what’s happening in the world around me. Being busy and in stuff as a kid kept me out of trouble and it partially helped keep my head on straight.
A part of being from Chicago is having a hustle mentality. It’s very rare to meet someone from Chicago who’s lazy. How has being from Chicago influenced your artistry?
I love my CITY! It’s a big mixing pot. I have so many different types of friends, which also helps with my music because even when I started as an artist I started making music for my friends. I was a bottle girl when I first started making music so I have a lot of friends that are dancers. I was just trying to make twerk songs for them to turn up to and play in the club. I wasn’t taking it seriously, at first.
I have my friends that are more eclectic and we listen to pop music all day. I’m about to make some pop records. I ask my friends “What y’all wanna hear I’m finna make it.”
I have a lot of friends that are musicians. One of my friends, Burnick, she’s a singer and I love her voice and so I’m like let me go in the booth real quick and do some R&B. Let me try and sing like you.
My city has really influenced me. We have so many different sounds here and so many different people.
I know whatever you’re mood is what you’re going to put into your records. When you dropped your debut album “Big Bank” what were you feeling? When I listened to it I got baddie vibes mixed with some R&B. What was your mood when you made it?
My mood was all over the place as you can see. I always tell people I have multiple personalities so whichever I am at that moment that’s who you’re going to get on the track. If I’m emotional and in my feelings, you’re going to get that.
I literally, sit in my house and make music. I love having fun and being happy. I don’t want to be this like sad girl, mad girl, mean girl… it’s not cool no more. I really want to make music that makes people happy.
How do you think you are disrupting the flow of hip-hop as an educated black female artist?
I’m stepping on they necks! The most feared thing in the world is an educated black woman, and I have talent? C’mon y’all.
It helps me so much because even when I go into meetings, with labels, they love that I’m educated. To them, that means that I’m teachable and that’s the thing a lot of artists don’t listen to. They have a problem with authority. I know how to listen. I also know when somebody’s trying to play me.
One time, I got a contract from someone and after I read it I was like “ I feel like you just insulted my intelligence,” and they responded with “I told them you were smart, I don’t know why they would send that.”
My mom used to tell me “If you’re too dumb to see the wool be pulled over your eyes then that’s exactly what you get.” I don’t play about my education, whether it’s street smarts or book smarts, you need to know it all.
How was it performing at Lyrical lemonade?
Amazing! I had so much fun. Everybody was asking me if I was nervous but I wasn’t. Honestly, I’m more nervous in front of people I know. If I don’t know you I don’t care what you think about me. I go out there and think “These people are going to like it or they are going to love it.”
I was so excited. I really felt the energy of the crowd. I really feel the support from my city now. At the beginning of my career, it wasn’t there that much but you know Chicago is hard for artists, especially female artists. I just, you know, had to keep kicking down them doors.
You’ve been in a few episodes of #BlackPeopleInChicagoBeLike. If there was a #BlackmusiciansinChicagoBeLike skit, what do you think the tone of the skit would be?
Y’all know we be rapping with our hand. We be “bow, bow, bow bow” *Laughs* We good on the ad-libs that “skrt!”. We be in the studio talking about “ bow, bow,bow, bow.” We’re super big on ad libs.
How have you been feeling since you dropped your album? Are you a “what’s next?” type of person or do you revel at the moment?
I’m never satisfied. I’m so ready to give you all new music. I only dropped like a month ago and I’m already over 2 million streams. One of my top songs “Get It” ft, Pronto Spazzout is already at five hundred thousand streams and that’s just on Spotify. So I’m thinking, how do I top this?
I think artists become complacent, and that’s a thing but that’s not my thing. I’m wondering what’s next, let’s keep the ball rolling.
So, what’s next for you?
I have new music dropping, some new features… some no-feature as NBA Young Boy would say. Some new videos, some that go along with my project. I’m trying to get more into acting. I’m really trying to be a brand. I’m not just an artist. I’ve never just been an artist, so why limit myself to just that?
If I can have a baby, go to school, and be an artist… I can be the president! Y’all want a rapping president? A black, educated, FEMALE president.
What vibe can we expect from your new music?
Well, we outside right? We outside. We getting cash. We want money, right? I’m feeling a little money vibes, a little glamorous, a little “spoil me baby.” QUEEN treatment or peace!
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