2007) | Interview By: Chad Kiser |
Dubcnn finally caught up with one of the most illusive men in hip-hop, when we spoke to multi-platinum, west coast super-producer Ant ďBig Bad AssĒ Banks; known for bringing heavy, low-end, funky bass lines, savvy recording techniques, and concocting creative artist collaborations, as well as having his own distinct original sound.
For nearly 25 years, Ant Banks has produced for several of the music industryís biggest names, including Too Short, Ice Cube, 2Pac, MC Breed, E-40, Ice-T, MC Ren, and Snoop Dogg to name a few.
As an artist, heís also collaborated with a multitude of artists such as WC, Kurupt, Spice 1, Rappiní 4-Tay, MC Eiht, Butch Cassidy and others on his 3 solo albums (Sittin' On Somethin' Phat, The Big Bad Ass, Do or Die) and two T.W.D.Y. group projects (Dery Werk and Lead The Way).
Itís been a little while since weíve heard from the ďBig Bad AssĒ, but Dubcnn caught up with Ant Banks, unbelievably, for his first ever interview with the West Coast News Network.
During this exclusive conversation with Ant Banks, we get the answer to his hiatus from the game and what heís been up to in the last few years, as well as how he got into music production, what his thoughts are on the Hyphy movement in the bay area, and his thoughts on the direction of hip-hop as a whole.
Enjoy the read below and stay tuned for more.
Interview was done by phone in August, 2007
Questions Asked By:
Ant Banks Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That
Dubcnn: Whatís up
Whatís Up, Chad?
Dubcnn: Everything good with you?
Dubcnn: So where have you been, and what have you been up to?
Iíve been doing a few little ventures out here in Arizona and stuff like that.
Just trying to make some things happen.
Dubcnn: Why the long hiatus from producing?
Iím just not having no true motivation to actually want to do music right now.
The love for it has just died because you put your all into something and itís
not appreciated like it used to be. The kids nowadays, theyíre not listening
for that. They want to hear the youngstas do their thing, for which Iím not
mad about. Thatís cool, and itís a young manís game right now. When we were
young, we had fun doing it and that was cool. And now, you gotta let the kids
have it and pretty much find you an executive role in this business right now,
to mentor them on something that they thought they could never become on their
own. And thatís pretty much all I could see myself doing, at this point. BUT,
best believe that I do have cannons in the arsenal!
Dubcnn: So you still be cooking things up in the lab?
Fa Sho! I have my own personal studio with full Ėblown pro tools. I have
pretty much anything that any high-powered studio would have. I work in my
studio pretty much 4 days out of the week. So itís not to say that I donít do
my music, I just donít do it publicly, or for anybody to really critique.
Everything I have is done and shelved, and I may go back and listen to it a
month or two later and add this or that to it. So by the time itís a done and
finished project, itís something that I enjoy. When Iím ready for it to come
out, then I got to have the right outlet for it.
Me and my boy Sonny B, we have a production team called the Slap Boys. Sonny B
has been around for a really, really long time and we got a whole bunch of
stuff in the vault right now. When the situation and the time presents itself
the right way, and donít think I havenít been looking for the right situation
because I have, but when it presents itself I have a lot of material that will
surface that I feel the industry has been missing. Thatís mostly what I can
say about Ant Banks, right now, musically. Thatís when the music is coming,
when that situation comes along. As of right now, itíll just sit in the vault.
And Iíll just keep creating more and more music, and when it comes itís going
Dubcnn: Sounds good! I know you have fans out there who have been
anticipating hearing from you and other members of the Dangerous Crew, both
personally and musically. Basically, thatís how these interviews got started
because over in the dubcnn forums theyve began what we call the "Dangerous Crew Movement".
Oh, now thatís tight!
Dubcnn: Iím seeing all the fans checking for the next interview from a member of the Dangerous Crew. By the way, is there an Ant Banks myspace page, or are all these ones I
see on here fake?
I havenít done the myspace thing yet. Iíve been on myspace probably like 3
times in my life. I know itís probably the best tool right now as far as
networking with people, but I havenít really got that involved in it yet. Iíve
heard that there is a lot people trying to reach out to me though. I went on
myspace, and they already got Ant Banks @ myspace.com, and Iím like, who the
hell is Ant Banks @ myspace.com, cuz that ainít me. *laughs* To even do my
emails and stuff like that, email@example.com is already taken! Who the hell
is firstname.lastname@example.org? *laughs* All this email@example.com is already
taken, and it ainít even me!
Dubcnn: Thatís some funny shit! Let me ask you this, sitting back now, what
do you think of the music industry today, compared to 10-20 years ago?
Really, right now, I would say that ever since like 1998, man the game has
just been real goofy. And it just seems like that anybody can make a record
about anything thatís goofy, like it doesnít take talent anymore to make hit
records. Itís just about who can be silly. Right now, the motivation to really
create a high-powered record is over shadowed by somebody whoís just a
marketing gimmick. And theyíll outshine you by miles, and it just looks like
the true MCís and the true producers and the people thatís putting in the
effort and the time and energy are the people that are not successful today.
Back in the day, we did what we did talent-wise, and it wasnít even for a
paycheck. It wasnít even done to be known or famous. It was because we enjoyed
doing it. It comes to a point where you just turn the other cheek. I made a
lot of money from this, so Iíve been investing in this and that and the other.
Dubcnn: So based on that, returning to full-time producing isnít on your
plate right now?
The motivation for me is just not there. Itís not like Iím not doing music
right now. Like I said, Iíve been making slaps, but itís just not my primary
focus right now. Iíve probably done over 300 songs in the last 5 years, that I
probably wonít release or put out because I donít feel like Iím in the right
situation to bubble and put it out the right way. Talent-wise, what Iíve been
doing is on a 2010 scale to where thereís a bunch of shit that has yet to be
seen. But Iím not gonna put it out there based on the fact that thereís nobody
really selling records. I donít want it to fly under the radar and just not
get no love, then years later everybodyís like ďWow! He put out an incredible
album that just went by ignored.Ē And if you really do your own investigation
on this game of music, youíll see that thereís been a lot of hot records, and
I mean really hot records, that have come and didnít bust a grape record
sales-wise. And itís not because it wasnít a good record, but for some reason
the industry wasnít checking for that particular person.
Dubcnn: Given that, what made you want to jump back in for a brief time with
the V-White album and the L-Matik album?
Because theyíre just my homies. It was just some good friends of mine that just
needed some help. Just some little, ďcan you do this for us? Can you do that
Dubcnn: Did you actually produce something on the L-Matik album, or did you
just oversee the project?
I just overseen it. I didnít produce anything on it. Actually, I ďhelpedĒ
produce on it. I didnít solely produce something where it was ďproduced by Ant
BanksĒ, no. Just helped.
Dubcnn: What about on V-Whiteís album?
I didnít produce on that. My boy Sonny B did the production, I just mixed it.
V-White is just a really, really, really good friend of mine that I always
wanted to see blow up anyway, becuz I always felt like he was one of the ones
out of Oakland that really had shined for a whole lot of years, that never
really got his chance to blow up. But he was always more deserving of it. He
was one of those artists that a lot of stuff he talked about, he had reason to
be able to talk about it. *laughs* Thatís all. He is just one of the real
Dubcnn: Whatís your take on the Hyphy Movement out there in Oakland?
I like it! I just wish that labels would come and jump behind it to blow it up
like they would anybody elseís movement. They jumping on everybody else, you
know? I mean, if you look at how the music has shifted from the east coast,
who had it for a while, to the west coast having it for a while, and then
Master P kind of moved to the south and got the south really recognized. Let
me take that back, Scarface & The Geto Boys really got the focus on the south,
and then Master P kind of really turned it into this bouncy-type of sound. And
then, itís been there ever since. If you really look at it, the south is
getting more of a run than anybody has ever got. And not that you can be mad
about that because I love the fact that they got their run for as long as
theyíre getting it, but if you really look at how itís going, they going to
get the last of any kind of run.
Dubcnn: What direction do you see hip-hop heading to, talking about the
last of any major run going to the south and all that?
Realistically, at the end of the day, the way itís looking is thereís probably
only going to be 10 labels left because all the other little ones is going to
fall off, and/or have to join the big labels thatís out there. Everything will
be under one umbrella. Thatís where itís going. Iím not saying thatís where
itís going to be, but thatís where itís headed because nobodyís selling
records. Either join, or fall off the wagon. Seeing all this, Iím just not
motivated to jump in all this and put all my marbles in whatís going on
because itís not lucrative for everybody. Itís fun to see people still out
there getting their money, and seeing people who was doing it back when I was
doing it, still getting their money. But the new ones, itís kind of sad to see
that theyíre not having good careers. They are having a good 2 or 3 album run,
then itís a wrap. I mean the last of seeing people with full, long, drawn out
careers and actually retire from music is done. You can count the number of
10+ year artists on your hands, man. The truly successful ones. The rest of
them are just artists that come and go.
Dubcnn: Ok. Take us back to the beginning of how you got in to music and
I took band as a child, and pretty much after I learned how to play a bunch of
instruments, probably over a 7-year course from like í81 to í88 I played a lot
of instruments. Pretty much in band they donít teach you nothing but
Classical. So, I would come home and learn how to play Parliament, Funkadelic,
The Gap Band or anything that was funk related. I had a little Casio keyboard
that I would just put a little beat on and play my own little version of
whatever they would do. And I would record it from time to time.
Dubcnn: Where did these experimentations lead you?
I had a buddy named MC Ant. He would just always cap on people and just all
this and that and the other. We started out just making a cassette with a beat
and him cappiní, but as he was cappiní heíd start rappiní. And from that, it
just turned into something. And pretty much, we made our first little tape and
took it to school and started selling it. It became popular all over school,
and from the school it went all over the city. It became an evolution that
everybody had to have an MC Ant tape. It was kind of like a Too $hort thing.
It wasnít like Too $hort was the only one selling a lot of tapes out of his
trunk back then. A whole lot of people was doing that back in the early Ď80ís.
It became a little competition thing, but by far Too $hort was winning the
tape battle (*laughs*). It was just so many people doing it, man! There was a
lot of famous people selling tapes out the trunk back in the Ď80ís.
I was the only producer in Oakland making any kind of noise. In í87 we put out
the first MC Ant CD & Cassette and all of that and it had sold over 80-90,000
just in the Bay Area/California area alone! From there, I did Pooh-man in í88,
and he sold over 200,000. Then in í89 I followed with Spice-1, who was close
to 300,00. I came with Dangerous Dame in 1990, and he sold well over 100,000.
So I was doing independent tape, after independent tape, and they was all
selling like 200-300,000 units. Just independently, with no label, no nothing.
During that time in the bay, I was the one that if you wanted a whole CD done,
I was the man to come see.
Ant Banks Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That