“People are out again and ready to party,” Ms Banks tells Apple Music. “I thought to myself, ‘If I’m really going to drop after lockdown, it’s got to really be saying something, especially because of what we’ve been through.’” The South Londoner’s racy rhymes have long empowered a growing legion of listeners to embrace themselves as they are. Now, on her first full-length release in over three years, Banks returns with a blistering reintroduction—centered on growth and artistic depth. On Bank Statement, alongside the sharp, danceable anthems that have marked her rise, deep dives into past trauma present the full picture of an artist navigating the doubting, dark corners of her psyche, while sat at the table of UK rap excellence.
From the incendiary opener “Bluff,” in which Banks puts the game on notice, to “Bare With Me,” with its curtain-drawing lyrics on her private life, a variety of sounds—including drill, dancehall, and Afroswing—trace her growth. “This is my statement,” she says. “This is a reflection of my life right now. I still find it hard speaking about how lockdown affected me and my career, and I just wanted to find some type of escapism or resolution. I like to turn up, and I’m all about empowering women. But I also wanted to delve deeper and provide you with different aspects of me. Balance is key.” Here, Ms Banks guides you through her latest mixtape, one track at a time.
“This song states what I’m about, and how things will play out if you talk about me sideways. I’m coming from the ends, I’ve grown up and seen a lot, but I carry myself very politely, especially in the music industry. Sometimes people can get that twisted and take my kindness for weakness. So I wanted to let people know that if you call out my name, I’m going to call your bluff.”
“Typa Way” (feat. Eight9FLY & Tion Wayne)
“This is the story of how I met a guy who had me feeling some type of way. It was my first time working with Eight9FLY. He wanted me to sing the hook, but he was so dope I had him stay on it. I felt like Tion Wayne would add a good perspective to the song and we have great chemistry personally and now working on music.”
“[UK musician and producer] Ebezener reached out for this one. He’s been wanting to work with me for a while, and would always say I would sound sick on one of his beats. I was looking for something Afrobeats-influenced, something really sexy. And he played me ‘Bounce’ with an idea for the hook and I was super inspired. This was our first time working together, and he just got my vibe. It’s like he knew what I was looking for.”
“Knowing I have so many male supporters who message me all the time, telling me I’m their favorite and the most beautiful…I wanted to speak on having different men around the world. No, I’m not sleeping with them, it’s more about appreciating my fans. Who doesn’t want to be someone’s favorite girl? I’m always trying to find ways to show my personality in my music, and I hope that shines through.”
“This is a song that came from a big writing camp back in March. I brought in a lot of writers and producers, some I’d worked with, some I hadn’t—and went into a session with [UK producers] 2Faded. The camp was actually very easy for me; people came in with big ideas and concepts, and there’s a lot of good energy around fueling creativity. I did my first verse of this song within an hour. That’s how much this beat was talking to me.”
“Men talk a lot, but they don’t always put it down. I’m calling out those men that like to talk: ‘Show me what’s up! Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.’ This is one of my favorites from the project, another from the camp. There’s a little sound on the beat that kinda sounds like a bed creaking—it was actually the studio chair! We had so much fun on this one, especially on the hook.”
“Party” (feat. Naira Marley)
“Girls know that feeling of looking good, smelling good, and then stepping into the party. I wanted that feeling on a track. I’ve known Naira for a long time, since I was about 16; he’s from the ends. We’d worked on [2020 single ‘Anywhere’] previously, and whilst shooting that video I played him songs I’d recorded with [Nigerian producer and songwriter] Rexxie, and he told me they were some of my best ever. He really wanted to hop on one of them, and this ended up being that one. It’s funny because I’m usually talking all the smack, but he really went there on this song.”
“Bare With Me”
“I find it hard to be vulnerable, and I don’t like showing a weak side, but I was very much in my feelings recording this. I freestyled the first verse, and I really had to push myself to write the second verse—but I would rather let it all out than keep it bottled inside. Before the sexy and sultry, it was very much about the pain and the hustle for me. The bar ‘I’ve been confused and been abused but can’t lose’ sticks out to me because it’s the truth. When you’ve been abused in your life, emotionally or sexually, it can take a huge toll on your confidence and cause confusion in your adult life. But my past doesn’t define my future; I have even more drive because of it. You think some little industry stuff is going to stop me? I’ve been through too much to stop here.”
“A lot of people think I’m talking about a guy here, but it’s actually about my career. I’ve literally sacrificed so much to do music. Whether it was spending time with the people I love or dropping toxic relationships and things that were holding me back. I’ve gone too far to look back now. That’s why I really love this song. And even though I’m talking about my career, you can relate it to anything. It has that quality to it.”