Don’t Sleep on Lay Bankz, She’s Just Getting Started

Lay Bankz

Lay Bankz wants to feel seen. The budding talent is in her ‘soft girl’ era and embracing that for what it’s worth. She’s from Southwest Philly, which explains her inherent grit that’s often mistaken for aggression. At 19-years-old, she has experienced so much change, and the subject matter that permeates her music is true to where she’s at in life right now. 

“I stay true to myself at all times,” the young scribe tells Dirty Glove Bastard. “I just use my music as a gateway to express whatever I’m feeling at the moment.” Doing so has allowed Lay to take on an important role as a trendsetter of the party sound that’s revolutionizing a pocket of culture within rap. She’s grown in popularity on TikTok over the last year or so, unlocking a new fan with each upload. 

The viral star has amassed a following for her dance moves and got everyone shaking their hips. Lay is one of the few black content creators-turned-artists that made a successful pivot from a platform to playlist. By the time she got around to releasing her debut EP, Now You See Me, out now, she had ascended past internet sensation. In other words, Lay Bankz has officially arrived, and this is not a bid.  

The 7-track effort is a hotchpotch of sounds that reflect Lay’s musicality. It opens up with the melody-driven “Idfwy,” introducing a new depth in her pen and attitude. Then, there’s “Ick.” It’s a standout performance on the EP and echoes the “sassy man apocalypse” sentiment she shared on socials back in June. From there, the remainder of the project plays out like the shuffle feature on your favorite streaming platform, except Lay is cycling through moments and music. 

These days, Lay is laser focused on becoming the best version of herself. She’s clear-eyed and determined to show the world that there’s more to her sound than hip-shaking hits. Now, the Philly prodigy is ready to be seen for who she is.

DGB: What was life like for you growing up in Philly?

Lay Bankz: It was really rough growing up. When I first came on earth, me and my parents actually moved to Atlanta for a little bit and we moved back to Philly when I was three. Growing up, I had a good time in my city but I say this all the time, ‘I come from a nitty gritty city.’ You gotta die about your respect, and that’s just how it goes. Me being a woman, me being a black woman and coming from Southwest Philly, and my manager, Kenny Blake, we come from the same part of the city. It’s real rough over there but you know, pressure make diamonds. So, you know, a rough area can’t hurt a pretty girl. 

DGB: Is there anything you experienced growing up that you feel like resonates with you today? 

Lay Bankz: When a lot of people first meet me, they initially think I’m aggressive. I know for a fact, the reason why I come off the way I do – it’s never intentional – but growing up in a city where everyone wants to play in your city, everybody thinks everything is a joke (we call it a bid). You gotta really protect yourself. You gotta be able to defend yourself and stand your ground, and stand firm for what you believe in. It made me stronger but I do think that’s why I come off as a little aggressive, but it’s never intentional. I’m in my ‘soft girl’ era right now: I just wanna be loved. (laughs). Naturally, that’s just who I am and I can’t help it but I appreciate the city for giving that to me because the industry is kind of like the hood. They’ll take something from you; everybody wants something from you. It just taught me how to defend myself and how to protect myself at all times – as a business woman, as an entrepreneur, and as a black woman, as an upcoming artist in this game. 

DGB: At 19-years-old, how do you find the balance between creating music that speaks to where you are in life right now while catering to the younger generation? The kids are paying attention to what you’re saying, and doing. 

Lay Bankz: One thing I can say is, ‘Note to self and stay true to self.’ I stay true to myself at all times. I walk in every room with my head held high and my chest out. The reason why it’s so easy for me to be who I am is because I express whatever it is I’m going through in life, how I feel, through my music. I just use my music as a gateway to express whatever I’m feeling at the moment, or whatever I’m referring to in the song. I think my music is all age-friendly. Some songs I can make for the kids, and some songs are for people my age; some songs I make for the older people, but either way it’s all really just about… truthfully, I’ve been through a lot of things in my life, I’ve had a lot of experiences that matured me at a young age and I think that’s one of the main reasons why I’m so well spoken and I know how to still keep things kid-friendly, and if not I know how to make (my music) relatable. I’m a young adult but I’m still technically a kid at the end of the day. It’s just about knowing how to articulate myself. 

DGB: What’s the overarching theme behind a “sassy men apocalypse”?

Lay Bankz: I think everybody, men and women, we’re all going through something right now. We all need each other at the end of the day. I think when people come together and find that fine balance between masculinity and femininity, we gon’ be good. Men need to stop being sassy, women need to learn how to be more understanding, caring, and listening to men. But men need to learn how to be tender and respectful but firm and still be strong-minded. If I’m gon’ be in a relationship with a man, I need him to lead me, I need him to guide me, and that’s really all I think it is. I think men are just in they bag and that’s the “sassy men apocalypse” forreal, but we gon’ come out of it. 

DGB: We need more leaders. 

Lay Bandz: Yeah, we need more leaders. I think there’s a lot of followers. In this day and age, a lot of men and women follow whatever the trend is. Nobody’s tryna be different. A man will be like ‘I want a traditional woman.’ Well, shit, I want a traditional man.

DGB: Nobody knows what that means nowadays because so much has changed. 

Lay Bankz: That’s what I’m saying. These days, men don’t know what a traditional woman is. I’ma keep it a whole bean, I’m from the body, so if you want a traditional woman, you need to be a goddamn traditional man. I’m not gonna clean if you don’t know how to cook and clean also. 

DGB: Or know how to change a tire…

Lay Bankz: Yeah, or mount my damn TV. 

DGB: What about now felt like the right time for you to drop your debut project? 

Lay Bankz: That’s the whole reason why I named the EP ‘Now You See Me,’ because I felt like my whole life, a lot of people don’t normally see me for the true artist or woman that I am – inside or out. I think right now was the perfect time for me because me and my team, we’ve been working for months. And me and my manager, we’ve been working together for four years now. Finding the perfect timing, putting out records, seeing what people like and what they don’t like, what people want from me, and what they don’t understand yet, it’s still so much music that I haven’t even dropped yet. It’s still so many records that I want people to hear from me, to get to know me more as an artist. But this EP is a clear representation of hard work and dedication because it really came from the heart. It took me like seven months to get this EP together. I’ve been working on it since I signed my deal. It changed so many times: First I said I wanted this song on it then I changed my mind and wanted this song, changing the whole concept of the EP. I went through so many phases with it. But right now is the perfect time because right now is Lay Bankz’ prime time. I’m going, and I’m going hard. I’m working – I’m attacking everything I want because nothing is glitter and gold, nothing will be just handed to me. And I ain’t asking for that, so I’ma always work twice as hard. 

DGB: What do you hope listeners see in you after listening to this project?

Lay Bankz: I hope people just understand I’m here to stay. I’m not going nowhere; I’m only going to get better; I’m only going to grow. I know some people don’t like me, some people gon’ hate me, but whether you like it, love it, or hate it – I’m still gon’ be myself. I’m never going to try to fit in. I’m never gonna try to do the most because at the end of the day people are gonna love you for who you are. I have real supporters out there, real people who come to my Spotify one per month just to listen to me… who check for me on social media. I’m never gon’ let myself get too big-headed, and now you see me… I’m right in your face. 

DGB: Is there a specific song off ‘Now You See Me’ that speaks to your ‘soft girl’ era? Since that’s what this part of your life is about. 

Lay Bankz: Honestly, I think ‘Smackdown….’ Sorry, I just saw some supporters. I feel like ‘Smackdown’ is a pure representation of my soft-girl era because I wrote that for my man. It really shows who I am, and it shows that I just wanna be loved. 

Yo, these supporters are hilarious. I gotta turn my camera around. (Lay turns her phone camera around on Zoom) This girl is dancing! Hold on, wait – ah, ah, get it. Lemme see, lemme see, lemme see, go head. Aye, aye, aye, ayee (Laughs). 

DGB: I imagine moments like this happen often for you?

Lay Bankz: It happens a lot but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I love my supporters a lot. The people who really support me know I have been through a lot to get where I am today. I’m never gon’ stop working; I’m never gon’ stop grinding; I’m never gon’ stop chasing my dreams. I want every supporter I have (this goes to people I know, people I don’t know) to know that you gotta shoot for the moon, and even if you don’t make it you’ll land amongst the stars. Dream big, and if not big, dream bigger. I say this to myself every day: I hold myself on this pedestal that not my mom, my brothers, not my sisters, not my dad, not anybody in my life could bring me down from. I envision myself to be strong minded, to be the biggest pop star walking on earth right now – people just haven’t discovered me yet. I wanna be a prodigy; I wanna be timeless; I wanna be lifelong and for everybody to love me. I’m just gon’ keep working hard and I want my supporters to understand that. This is just the beginning. 

DGB: Do you consider ‘Now You See Me’ as a statement project? In other words, this is your way of showing that you can do more than just hip-shaking music.

Lay Bankz: Definitely. That’s the statement I was going for in my song ‘Check Me,’  I said, ‘I’m the reason they doing this hip shit. They ain’t rap on these beats ‘til I did it.’ Everybody in the industry tryna acquire this power… this party sound right now. Me and my friends, we honed in. We perfected it in our own way and we stamped in. We got everybody on TikTok tryna dance like us, tryna talk like us, tryna wear the same clothes as us. Everybody in the industry tryna rap on party beats. For me, the point I’m tryna prove is that I’m more than that. I’m versatile. I have over 3,000 records in my phone that I’ve recorded, from the past four years. [My catalog] is just gonna keep growing and I’m only going to get better. I’m not no hip-shaking ass artist. That’s not just what I do. I can do that, but give me some time. Another thing, too, I don’t wanna oversaturate my consumer. Everything gon’ happen in due time and I put my faith in the Lord. I trust God at all times, and everything gon’ go the right way. 

DGB: Have you always prioritized taking care of business above anything else? I commend you on that, especially at 19. 

Lay Bankz: Honestly, I feel like it happened overtime. I come from a family where we stand on business. My mom, my stepdad and my dad are very firm believers in business and doing things the right way. I gotta commend my manager, Kenny Blake, because he’s the reason why I started thinking with such a business mindset. I had to learn that doing this music stuff, people will really try to get over on you – especially with me being young and me being a black woman. A lot of people will try to manipulate situations. I had to learn how to move around because it’s instances where my manager can’t be with me, and at this point, Kenny has become like a work-dad to me: he started protecting me, showing me how to move around and stuff like that. If it wasn’t for everything that I’ve been through up until now, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I gotta thank Kenny for that, and my parents ‘cause I had to learn how to be laser-focused and not get distracted. How to care only about the music first, and just doing things the right way. I can’t let nobody stop my growth or stop me from being the best version of myself. 

DGB: The only person that can stop you is yourself, the person in the mirror. 

Lay Bankz: Yup. Now, you see me. 

About the Author

Derrius Edwards
Derrius is a music industry professional with experience in content strategy and editorial writing, sharing relevant and resonating stories as a conduit for hip-hop culture advancement.

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