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For Rapper Ano Bank$, Authenticity Is Number One

Written by on September 18, 2023

In 2019, Vocalo had the chance to speak with Chicago musician Ano Bank$. Since then, the multifaceted artist has made waves in Chicago’s music scene and dove into a journey of self-discovery, exploration and personal growth.

While music continues to be a passion of his, Ano Bank$ is more than just an artist. He’s a barber, youth coach, active member in his community, and now a self-proclaimed “Flower Boy” who has embraced gardening. 

Ano Bank$ by Maddie Neiconi, courtesy of the artist.

Ano Bank$ is forging his own path in the industry, using his life around him to inspire his craft and keeping authenticity the main priority of his music. His song “Bend On Me,” which was featured on Vocalo’s “In Rotation” playlist this past August, is inspired by the essence of love and the feelings that come with spending time with your favorite person.

In our most recent conversation, he shares how he finds harmony between all of his passions and how he plans to shape the future of his career.

It’s been a little while since we last (virtually) chatted with you in 2019! What have you been up to for the past few years? Any particular highlights?

Really I’ve been building internally. The theme as of late for me has been “Championship Habits,” training myself to love the process of everything, the journey. And I’ve been on the same, still cutting hair, still coaching youth, still growing as a person. I’ve traveled in the last few years just becoming more well-rounded. 

RELATED: Chicago Rapper Ano Bank$ is Neighborhood…

When did you start making music? 

I started making music in 2009 when I was in college. I was rapping a lot then, more just trying to find my sound for prolly the first eight years, to be honest. The Ano Bank$ I am now, prolly ain’t from till 2018.

What did music mean to you growing up? How has that changed over the years? 

Music was always a big part of my life. My Nannie (grandmother) was the minister of music at my family church and my whole (church) family was involved in choir. Also growing up, I listened to alot of rap because of my brothers, R&B because of my aunts and rock because that was my mom’s favorite genre growing up. It was an escape for me as a kid, coming up for me was rough and I would take long bike rides with my Sony Walkman CD player and just zone out from what was goin’ on in my life. Later in life, music has become a real passion of mind derived from needing something to love to do after deep loss. Music is my oldest friend, my muse and also my inspiration.

Can you tell us about your stage name and its origin? 

Bet, that’s easy. My real name Ant, so my homies all put “O” at the end of our names on some coo shit. So you get “Ano.” And my mentor at the shop called me Ant Banks after the rapper. So I mashed it: Ano Bank$. 

Tell us about your song “Bend On Me,” which was featured on Vocalo’s In Rotation playlist for August. What’s the song about, and what do you hope listeners take away from it?

“Bend on Me” was created before I even made my “Low End Theory” project, low key. NYC producer Gxnzx reached out to me with some beats, and we put it together. It’s about taking time to see your favorite person. A coo love song. I want listeners to feel coo listening to it. Issa bop, is what I would say. The cover art is a Grand Theft Auto flip with a soft spin on it. 

We’d also love to hear more about “Lose Control,” your more recent single! What’s the reception to that song been like so far? 

The reception has been great. I’ve been on a ‘90s R&B binge and this was the first song I made coming off it. It’s a song I made like a conversation. I’m affirming a woman in the hook, while appealing to how I can add value to her life. I’m playing with words and phrases in a fun way in the verse. First line: “Girl you so fine, you gotta know that I wanna slide, like Modern War.” Like COD, like slide how they do in the game. Shooting — shooting my shot. It’s a really fun song, I really like it, enjoyed making it, everything.

Do you still cut hair? Tell us a little bit about your background as a barber, and what your experiences working in a barbershop mean to you, and/or what they have taught you about human connection. 

Yes, I’m still chopping. I love it and don’t think I’ll ever stop. I’ve had my barber license since 2011, and the shop saved me. I was at a dark time when I started school, and starting my career as a barber changed me as a person for the better. I’ve learned about the importance of perspective, when it come to people more than anything. And how you can learn something from everybody. Everybody has something to offer. It’s really humbling to be paid by people. The power in people coming together in a place where money is exchanged as easily as the knowledge is being shared in an open forum of love is a blessing. I know what community means and looks like because of the shop. It’s really a special place, and we need more places like it. 

Ano Bank$ by Isaiah “Thought Poet” Veney, courtesy of the artist.

It looks like you’ve also been doing some outdoor gardening/farming work pretty frequently on your Instagram! Tell us more about that. 

YEA! Lol if anybody know Banks, they know Ima Flower Boy. My Nannie had houseplants and a cherry and apple tree, we used to pick and eat from. More than that in the hood (underserved Black and brown communities) I come from, and everywhere, food is a problem. The money to buy it, access to it, the quality of it. Food deserts are real, you know. Hunger is real. In our own communities. So I’m tryna grow some food and herbs and things like that, that people can use and enjoy. 

Gardens can beautify the hood and feed it. Add value to the property, ‘cuz you have beautiful gardens instead of vacant lots. People will start to value and keep they block/neighborhood clean. It grounds me, being in nature. I think we, as people, need more of that. Knowing what’s important and being grounded in that.

What role does being in nature play in your creativity as a musician, if at all? 

Music is a part of nature to me. Music is in the nature of everything. Humans just make music how we do. Birds and a slew of other animals make music. Music is the sounds that nature moves a given vessel to make. Like the blues, they made that music based off what life experiences they had. I heard, “You couldn’t sing the blues, unless you lived the blues,” and that couldn’t be more true. Even now in music, authenticity is still number one. Nature creates that in music.

How has it been promoting your music on TikTok? 

It’s coo, I like it. Feel like I find a lot of non-creative people on there, just a place of a lot of consumers.

What’s next for Ano Bank$? 

I’m dropping two songs a month ‘till the end of the year. Ima do Banksgiving in the fall. You can expect some acoustic tracks next year. Just tryna reach and connect with every person who enjoys my music. Shows. Performances. Merch. Just more Bank$.

Keep up with Ano Bank$ on Instagram, and hear the archive of our past “In Rotation” selections below.

Written introduction by Blake Hall

Interview by Imani Warren and Morgan Ciocca

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