In the future, when people are looking back at this decade on a pop-culture-like show — or whatever the future-television equivalent is — there are certain things you know will make the show: COVID, streaming wars, Zoom calls, telework, the rise of plant-based alternatives and the ongoing proliferation of social media.
Within that social media segment, one certainly discussed item will be the emergence and rapid-fire popularity of TikTok. If you’re unaware, TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform that truly stepped into its own with the onset of the COVID pandemic and people turning to new sources of entertainment while shuttered in. Fun fact, TikTok was named the third-fastest growing brand of 2020 according to Morning Consult, a research company tracking brands, the economy, and geopolitics.
TikTok is alluring because of its potential to turn ordinary people into stars and potential celebrities into supernovas. Case in point, rapper Erica Banks whose career was partly launched by her single “Buss It,” which went viral on TikTok.
ED Magazine spoke with Banks courtesy of Bob Chiappardi and StripJointsMusic.com. The conversation spanned becoming a viral sensation (which could have come perilously close to not happening), Banks’s influences, and her new single “Toot That.”
ED: What’s it like to be a viral TikTok sensation? When was the moment you knew you had become viral?
BANKS: It’s been crazy to be a part of the TikTok movement. I was shocked when it happened. I didn’t expect it — I didn’t even really know how to use TikTok when I went viral so seeing it go viral was crazy. It’s still going up as we speak and it’s just been very exciting.
ED: Who are some of your musical influences?
BANKS: I always say Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott. Those would be top two for sure. There’s also Drake, Lil Wayne, Future and that’s just to name a few.
ED: What was it like when you signed with Warner Records in January? How much reaffirmation did that give you?
BANKS: That was also an exciting moment for me as well. It was my first time with a major label so it was a big thing for me. When I did sign, I did feel like I can do nothing but go higher. I’m excited to see what I can do.
ED: How are you carrying the mantle of Dallas rappers?
BANKS: I’ve just tried to be me, that’s the best way to do it, just be myself and do what I like as an artist because that’s what people like me for. As I continue to be true to myself, I’ll continue to rise.
It’s been crazy to be a part of the TikTok movement. I was shocked when it happened. I didn’t expect it — I didn’t even really know how to use TikTok when I went viral so seeing it go viral was crazy. — Erica Banks
ED: How did Sgt J and your friends convince you to release “Buss It”—you said you didn’t like the song at first?
BANKS: They kind of pressured me into it, they were like ‘This is something you need to put out. This is really hard, it’s a great club track.’ I was like ‘No, I can do better.’ They persuaded me to just rock with it. So we put it out and it did its thing.
ED: How important is it for your music to be an “esteem booster” to your listeners?
BANKS: It’s very important to me. The kind of music I make is not only club music but it gives people confidence. People tell me all the time they’ve gone through low self-esteem, times in their lives but listening to my music they’ve been able to grow from that, so it’s a really big deal to me.
ED: Has there been a moment you’ve looked around the ppl you’re with and realized “I’ve made it,” or has that not happened yet?
BANKS: I definitely don’t feel like I’ve made it yet. I won’t feel like I’ve made it until I can stop rapping and never rap again.
ED: StripJoints services DJs at gentlemen’s clubs nationwide, so why would “Toot That” (which is also its own social media challenge now, #TootThatChallenge) be a good choice to play at a gentlemen’s club?
BANKS: It gets the girls going, it makes them wanna dance. It’s fun, upbeat. Even people in the club who are just there, they stand to dance. It’s just a fun song that changes the vibe in the club.