Words by Lily Mercer
From the hustler mentality of 50 Cent to the political leanings of Pharoahe Monch, Queens, New York has been home to some of hip-hop’s greatest MCs. Nicki Minaj seems to be the current reigning champ of the borough, but not for long.
The once booming voices of Queens have been reduced to whispers as other boroughs enjoy the NYC renaissance; A$AP Rocky’s doing it for Harlem, Joey Bada$$ for Brooklyn, but who’s doing it for Queens? Action Bronson and Das Racist have made some noise in recent years but now Remy Banks and his band of outsiders are ready to snatch the crown back.
Banks is one of three essential parts of Children Of The Night, alongside beer and lady-loving Nasty Nigel and food and lady-loving Lansky Jones. On the release of their EP, ‘Queens…Revisited’ earlier this year, MTV Wrap-Up named the trio “the next A Tribe Called Quest”. Also known as COTN, pronounced like the fabric, the group becomes the larger musical collective, World’s Fair, when Cody B.Ware, Prince SAMO and Jeff Donna join the line-up.
A fan of hip-hop since childhood, Banks’ surroundings allowed him to witness the lifestyle of the genre close up. Living a couple of blocks from the iconic Jamaica Colosseum, he was present at Wu-Tang’s ‘Ice Cream’ video shoot as a kid. “I was about seven,” he tells Clash, “with my older cousin Kizzy when she got word that Wu-Tang was shooting a video at the Colosseum. We ran over there and I met Rae, Ghost, Meth, Capadonna and more.” Plus, with a birth name like Remy Banks, he was born to be a rapper, right? But it wasn’t his first choice, as he explains: “Outside of music, fashion is my thing. Going to school with it as my major was cool, but while in every class, I would be writing rhymes instead of important notes. I wasn’t trying to be paying loans off for something I’m not a hundred precent into, so I chose to not go back that next year.”
He made the right choice, as the video for ‘3Flips6’, Banks’ collaboration with Flatbush Zombies’ Juice and A$AP Ant hit hard, receiving over twenty thousand YouTube views in less than twenty-four hours. Combining three rappers from three New York groups, representing three boroughs, it’s the kind of song that sees young people inexplicably lose their minds and old people claim they ‘just don’t understand music these days.’ Expect more as the three are currently working on an EP due in autumn.
It goes without saying that Queens’ most legendary export, Nas, has been a great influence on Banks. So opening for him in London on August 10th is set to be life changing. “When the opportunity to open for Nas came about, our manager jokily told me not to cry, but shit, I was damn near on the verge of shedding some thug tears,” Banks laughs. Queens legend and Nas comrade Large Professor is already a fan, as seen by his cameo in the ‘Kids From Queens’ video which sees him manning a barbeque. Get it? Live at the BBQ.