We ask talented Music Bear Tony Banks six quick questions as he releases a new single along with a music video for “Static” off his upcoming album “Yes Homo”. The video stars Music Bear and Catalin Constantine as his boyfriend, featuring animation by wikistylista. The track can be summarized as funky hip-hop with a message.
“‘Static’ is one of the first tracks where I looked at things from beyond a sex or love angle and got a little more into the dirt and nitty gritty,” explains Music Bear. “Cause at the end of the day, we can’t ignore that when Cupid strikes, he leaves an arrow in our heart that can hurt.”
He tries to stay true to who he is as a man and an artist. You’ll rarely, if ever, hear Music Bear Tony Banks rhyming about “Popping Bottles” (he barely drinks) or “Fighting Bitches” (not his style). In his upcoming album, “Yes Homo,” he tackles issues like love, lust, partying, the state of hip-hop and police brutality. It’s meant to be a full depiction of what it means to be a black, gay, male, hip-hop artist in 2017.
Music Bear Tony Banks was born in Brooklyn in the early 80’s. He grew up during the golden era of hip-hop. Early on in his musical journey, he wanted to be singer. He sang in church and wrote R&B songs and poetry. As he matured, he considered a career behind the scenes but life took its course and he found himself back in hip-hop, as an artist. He believes hip-hop is love. It’s soulful, empowering, fun, beautiful and caring.
We learn more about the song and video and explore how we can help break down the homophobic walls within the hip-hop and R&B music genres:
Congratulations on the release of the video for “Static”. I also heard the recent shout out to you on Kiss 104.7 FM which was great! Tell us more about your EP “Yes Homo” and the song “Static”.
Thanks a lot. “Yes Homo” is me not giving a fuck and saying everything I feel. From confessing my love to addressing the current state of hip-hop and more. It’s my most personal album so far. And it all starts with “Static”, a track that speaks to being in a relationship and knowing when enough is enough and when it’s time to move on.
The “Static” video incorporates some excellent animation. What was the motivation for this style for the video and how did the collaboration with wikistylista come about?
It all started by accident. I was aiming for a single drone shot, but at the start of the first full take, the drone hit a fence and broke a few propellers. We had to improvise, but it then gave way to something better. I found wikistylista on fiverr.com and we worked together on this project of mixing animation with video. It took about 3 weeks til final product. The internet is a wonderful thing!
The masses in other genres of music have been more accepting of gay artists than the R&B and hip-hop communities. Why is that do you think and how can we change that?
Gays in the genre aren’t new, but we just need more acceptance. Homophobia in the black community needs to end in order for that to occur on the scale that it should. It’s slowly changing with the image push of these “New Wave” hip-hop and R&B artists as well as the new generation of people just not caring about who you sleep with. But like most things taken from gay culture, it starts from the fashion, as it always has, and eventually will push over into the music with the help of shows like Empire and the The Get Down. It’s actually the topic of the title track “Yes Homo”. I talk about the homophobia in hip-hop and how if it weren’t for gays, hip-hop would have died on arrival.
Live performances or being in the studio, which do you prefer?
I prefer being on stage for sure! I love performing. It’s my biggest passion. Seeing the crowd and feeling their energy or build up energy if it’s not there. It’s a unique connection every time.
We like both but which do you prefer, shirt on or shirt off when performing?
HAHA! Depends on the event. I’m not afraid of either and have been known to do both. But at most shows my shirt eventually comes off. It’s a process. It’s like giving them that last piece of me and being free and completely in the moment.
You are an unconventional and unapologetic artist in your own right. We are curious to know your response to our signature question, “What is something you have done that may be considered edgy, unconventional, or tight-lipped?”
Hell…I’m a 30-something year old, Black Bear starting a career in hip-hop, the most homophobic genre in music. You can put those pieces together or break them down and it’s ALL considered edgy, unconventional and tight-lipped on a number of levels! Everything else I’ve done, and I’ve done a lot, is a walk in the gay park in comparison!
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