When it comes to music, Orange County based-rapper Elijah Bank$y is making hits all over the court. In February, he dropped his basketball inspired EP 50*40*90. Dripping with soulful beats and clever similes, 50*40*90 blasts a New York vibe with music visuals to match. The tracks are dunked in Bank$y’s sharp-witted rhymes while also featuring unequivocal verses from artists that provide a complimenting contrast to Bank$y’s sound. When Bank$y isn’t showing off his word play, he raps about his future as if it has already happened. He has a vision for 2020 and 50*40*90 is just the beginning. What makes Bank$y special is that he finds a way to have you listen to two songs at once. While he’s providing you with punchy lyrics, he also serenades you with old school jams that float nostalgia to your ears. The juxtaposition isn’t unfamiliar but Bank$y does it with a swish. He combines the old with the new, reminding listeners that our grandparent’s music will live forever and so will his.

Bank$y spoke with FRONTRUNNER about his favorite childhood albums, how his surroundings have inspired him, what to expect from him in the future and more.

Photo credit: Pat Duncan

The title of the project is 50*40*90 which is when basketball players shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent for 3-pointers and 90 percent for free throws. How has basketball inspired your music?

The title came about because I was on the phone with my good friend and frequent collaborator, Tomás Tomás. We were just speaking about the project and I was explaining how all the songs are in the same vein and how I’m showing different styles and when he mentioned the 50-40-90 club to me it kind of put into perspective how I have many different ways of scoring and various moves that I would say would land me in the 50-40-90 club. Sports, films, and life in general act as a muse to convey how i’m feeling or just metaphors and punchlines etc.

One of my favorite things about this project is how it seems to have samples from songs our grandparents jammed out to. What about old school music attracts you to incorporate that soul into your sound? And what are some songs from back in the day that are your on playlist today?

I would say sampling and the art of it is what I grew up on like 90’s old school, but honestly it’s just what I know. I don’t think it was a conscious effort to do that. I just like the textures of the samples and just being able to hear another song within a song and to make that come to life. I would like to give a nice shout out to all producers who did a phenomenal job on the project. To be honest I don’t really listen to oldies as often as I should outside of searching for samples but Gil Scott-Heron plays a big role in providing me inspiration as an artist and poet. And the instrumentation that he used is quite riveting to me.

In your most recent music video, you combined G-SHIT with AUTOMATO. What made you choose these two songs to be put together for the video?

To be frank it was the only two songs that I had at the time that were only performed by me which made it an easy pick. (HALFTIME SHOW and FIJI FREESTYLE were added after the fact).

More about your music video, it incorporated a lot of New York scenery. Being born and raised in Orange County, what about home is threaded into your music and music-making process?

Orange County is an hour away from the city so for the video we just took a trip there. In my music video My Hiatus, it displays what I am mostly surrounded by. My surroundings make me want more and the dislike of where I live pushes me to go harder. My actual home and the people inside of it are always embedded into my music because that’s my true art; that is who I am and what has made me as an artist.

In AUTOMATO you rap “I swear this shit is automato. You know this shit is automatic when it comes to the rhymes.” When did you know that you were good at rapping and wanted to get into music?

I started writing in the fifth grade but I was awful. I did it mostly for fun and was not taking it too seriously. Up until my junior year in high school is when I began to realize this is something I want to pursue and get good at. More recently my approach to music has become a lot more natural to me. The approach mainly being about not forcing anything or feeling like I have to make a certain song to appease anyone because my music is a true representation of myself.

You have quite a few features on this project including ZekeUltra, w. swisher, Archy Moor, and DON P. What’s your favorite part of collaborating with others? Any cool studio stories?

Swish was the only person I linked with in the studio because he lives closer to me and it seems like we can literally make music out of thin air. He’s helped out with a lot of my music within the last 2 years and you’ll be seeing a lot more of him whether through production or features.

I sent a couple beats to Archy and Don to start out. I had talks with them to gain more of their perspective as artists. I think it is important for artists to understand each other beyond the music. Especially when sending through email and not in the studio because the music could sound artificial. Zeke, just like Swish, is a frequent collaborator and we have made music in the studio together before so when I sent him this record it was more so an alley-oop. You will also be seeing a lot more of him on future projects!

For HALFTIME SHOW, Swish and I were just casually listening to beats he had made and I just fell in love with it and started rapping a verse that I had for a while and I asked him to get on the song with me. After it was done, we came up with the hook and I knew that it had to go on the project.

Photo credit: Pat Duncan

I read that you grew up listening to Jay-Z and Biggie. What are some rap albums from your childhood that still resonate with you today?

Big Pun – Capital Punishment

Jay Z – Black Album

Wu Tang – 36 Chambers

The Roots – Things Fall Apart

These albums are examples of music I enjoyed and grew up on.

On Instagram you said this project was 1 of 4 for 2020. What can we expect from any upcoming 2020 projects?

You can definitely expect surprise projects for sure but I do have three serious releases that are already in the works to be released. Next project I have slated will possibly drop middle of March/April but for now I want people to run up 50*40*90 and I will probably have 1-2 more visuals drop off that project as well as more singles to come by the end of February.

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