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ARTIST | Tye Banks

Sexy Southern Hip Hop… with Substance

“My main motivation is to express myself honestly and creatively while still changing with the times. I want people to feel the same excitement and honesty in my songs to get inspired like I did as a kid listening to music.” – Tye Banks

Words like compassion, sacrifice and integrity aren’t usually the words used to describe a Hip Hop artist’s persona or their background, but for Tye Banks, a North Carolina-based music artist and producer, you can’t tell Tye’s whole story by glossing over his honesty and positive outlook, or without mentioning his struggle to take responsibility for his life both as a man and a music artist.

Born and raised in Raleigh, Tye grew up absorbing music and Hip Hop culture in his aunt’s nightclub, and schooled himself in different musical styles during summers in Texas, California and New Jersey. At the age of 12 he began performing, and started writing his own songs at 13.  His grandparents bought him a set of drums (which he says he “tore up in a couple of weeks”), and he received his mother’s Christmas gift of two turntables, a mixer and three records, all of which would eventually set him on his current musical path.

Tye says his neighborhood and surroundings growing up didn’t exactly teach him things like responsibility, respect, or an appreciation for getting an education and simply doing the right thing in life. He was repeatedly expelled from school and failed tenth grade. “I could have done better in school – I was a smart kid, but I just didn’t do very well,” he says, with a tone of regret in his voice. “I was living with people who where facing substance abuse problems. It was hard for me to deal with them and enjoy being a teenager. So I spent a lot of time outside my house hanging out in the streets. I had to grow up fast because of my neighborhood.”

Playing sports had a hand in keeping Tye out of most of the trouble lurking in the rough Raleigh streets of his childhood, though sports alone couldn’t save him.  With a long pause in his thoughts, Tye opens up a little more to reveal a glimpse of what he went through in those years. “I witnessed a friend killed over some random bullshit,” Tye shares, still haunted by the loss. “He walked by, said ‘What's up,’ and smiled. I did the same, kept on walking, and saw some dudes run up to him and shoot him.  I was one of the last people he spoke to. I can still see him smiling at times.” 

Tye can still recount how when he was 16 one of his best friends was murdered. And while he did graduate high school, Tye still wasn’t quite ready to take life seriously, or college, which he failed out of with poor grades.  Since those events, time, Tye says, has always been something he tries to be very mindful of. “All of those things showed me that you have to be responsible at whatever cost, and that life isn't always about receiving. I learned that the most valuable thing in this life is time.”

Without wallowing in all of the sordid or sad details of what Tye went through growing up, he prefers to not dwell on them or his teenage screw-ups but instead to focus on what he says turned him around in life.  “I wasn’t doing well financially. I was trying to find myself and discover what exactly I wanted to do with my life,” Tye says, looking back with a sense of wisdom that only comes with age and experience. “At that time, I was listening to a lot of music artists that were talking about self awareness and self respect, and that inspired me to believe in myself and let me know that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to.” It felt as if artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and a host of others were talking directly to him, he says.

For Tye, it was ultimately a loved-one’s fatal illness that finally made him grow up and really take to heart those musician-inspired lessons of awareness and respect.  “My grandpa was dying of cancer, and I had just been kicked out of college (the first time he was enrolled) for poor grades. I moved in with him and become his full-time caregiver. Money got tight because I wasn’t able to work as much – I took care of him first,” Tye continues. “I was working odd jobs and it was a challenge to make ends meet.”

It was after successfully graduating college with a B.A. in Sociology that Tye’s attention once again turned back to his school-aged interest in music and writing songs. “Music was speaking to me – through guidance, and education and inspiration. Hip Hop especially, was my news bulletin – it was my CNN – my window to history, culture and self respect, and their words encouraged me to have fun too. The words taught me how to handle life.”

Now, as a grown man with a burgeoning music career and a rewarding full time job, Tye Banks has taken his life’s lessons and experience and fused it with a passion for Hip Hop to produce a sound he calls “Lost Boyz meets Mayberry.” His songs are a potent blend of party Southern Hip Hop that oozes sex appeal and a confidence that could only originate from an artist that has seen many of life’s lows and has overcome them to be better, smarter and stronger.


Last update: 12/03/14 01:00:24

Style: Hip-Hop
Influenced by:
Web site: http://www.tyebanks.com

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