E. Banga on Being a Female Rapper in Miami
If you attended last year's MIA Jamfest, a MicXChange or a WakeUpWynwood event, chances are you've noticed E. Banga -- and perhaps because her 4'11" height may have given the impression she may have given the bouncer a fake ID.
But if you are now reading about her for the first time, you may be thinking, "Who the hell is she? She hasn't even released a project." And you'd be right. She hasn't.
But equipped with a stockpile of singles, freestyles, and an upcoming EP, Banga is one of the few budding female emcees in Miami.
Crossfade hung out with the North Miami rapper to talk about that impending debut release, her feature on Amber Monique's "Picture Me Rollin'," writing for others, and doing it all while being a mother to her 5-year-old daughter.
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Crossfade: How do you balance being a female rapper in Miami while raising a daughter?
E. Banga: It's so challenging. It's probably one of the hardest things I've had to do, because it's something I'm determined to do. It's like no other way out. I'm going balance the two of these things because I'm doing it for her. When I first started making I did it as a hobby; something I though I was just good at and it was fun and I'm freestyling with my brother, my homboy. We're just having a good time. I always tried to consider making it a career, but it was just fun for me at first. And then once I had her it was like no, this isn't fun anymore. I can make something of myself, do something with this and actually give my daughter a better life than I had. She my motivation, but at the same time she's what, I don't want to use the term "hold me back" but it makes it harder for me to do it at the pace I'd like to do it.
Does she know what you're doing or does she ask where you go?
No, she knows. I did a song with her on it before. She was on stage with me. She knows all of my music, even though I try to not use profanity as much as possible, but she knows. Kids aren't stupid. You're human. You're not going to catch it every time. She'll even bleep out the words when she knows she's not supposed to say them. But she knows all of my songs. She's probably, I'd say, my biggest fan. She knows all the time, "Mama, you're going to go do a show," "Ok, you can wear this," You're going to look pretty," "How long are you going to be there." "My mom is rapper."
Ever ask for her opinion?
Yeah, I do. Because kids, I feel, are the most sincere. They're going to let you know exactly how they feel, and they always say when kids like something that when you know you have a hit. Once they know the song or they like the song that's when you know you have something good.
I'll sing a hook to her. I'll be writing in front of her, and she'll hear me singing it. It's funny, because at times when I don't think she's listening, I'll hear her singing a song I wrote that I didn't even show her. I'm just writing it and humming it or just spitting it next to her then I'll hear her out of no where like (hums). I'm like, "What are you singing," she's like, "You're song."
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Your father used to be locked up.
Seven years. And then before that he wasn't with my mother, they were separated when I was young. My dad was heavily on crack. He used to beat my mom. That type of relationship. My dad was an orphan. He was raised with no family. I didn't know him at that time when that was happening, but it's crazy because even though I didn't know my dad and I wasn't raised with him I always had some type of love for him. Even though he was jail we were still always close. I'd write letters to him, poetry. And he'd send drawings to me. And I always still felt even though he wasn't there like he was there. I just had this weird feeling where I just always had to be with him.
He got out when I was 16, and ever since then, even though I was raised by my mom, but I have a much closer relationship with my dad. No his life's completely changed. He moved to Georgia. He has like a big 5-story house. Just a complete transformation. He's actually one of my biggest inspirations. Just to see somebody come from being raised not having a mom, not having a dad, being raised by his aunts where he's just that other stepbrother type of vibe, seeing him go to jail, be on crack, be at his lowest possible point and then pick that back up and start a whole new life is really inspiring to me.
What does your mom think of your relationship with him?
I don't know. Me and my mom's relationship now is really good, but growing up it wasn't. it was really rocky. My mom had me when she was young. I was her first-born, so I always felt like unintentionally my mom kind of living her childhood through me once I got to that age where it was the age that she got pregnant and missed out on all the things she was supposed to do. And I think that it came out in way that she didn't intend for it. Like she just didn't know any better. So it was a lot of things that were really messed up that I don't think she even realizes. I'll bring it up to her to day, she'll be like, "Oh, I never did that. What are you talking about?" She blames other people. She just doesn't accept the fact that you were young. I forgive you. I understand. But acknowledgement is everything to me. I just want you to know how you made me feel at this time.
And when it comes to my dad, I don't think my mom felt bad or weird. I know that she's always had something towards my dad because of he used to beat her and how he was with her, and I was still close with him. I think it bothered her. She never said it, but I can feel that it did because we were really close.
What was it about Amber Monique's "Picture Me Rollin'" that made you want to get on it?
I first really got to meet her when I did the MIA Jamfest show. She just showed me mad love. I guess she saw I was another female that was on the line-up, and she would tag me on her fliers, she was like, "Oh, you're so dope." And I'm like man, she likes me. It's cool because I always like when girls like me, because you know how girls are. It takes a lot to show another girl, another woman love.
I loved her music. I saw her perform. And then she was always telling me, "I gotta get you on a song. I gotta get you on a song." So one day she sent it to me and I heard her verse and I was like oh my God. I thought it was dope because I always think with classic instrumentals I don't like to touch them myself. I don't think people shouldn't touch them unless they're going to be just as good or better than the original, because she made me forget what song that was. She turned it into a whole other song.
You used to assist in the writing for others as well as write for them. What made you jump from that to doing your own?
When I used to do it as a hobby, I used to also write for people because, one, I didn't have the confidence at the time to just be like I'm just going to do this and I want to do it myself. I always thought I knew I had good writing skills, so let me see what I could do for other people. I'm not a singer, I can sing, but I'd consider myself a rapper who sings, so I'd like to write songs for singers to just try to build my own range and see where I can take my voice and use them as practice. After a while, with the people I used to write with, it didn't work. Their motivation didn't match mine. Sometimes their passion level didn't either. I'd be on some, "Listen, I want you to sing it like you feel it. Don't just say the words. I put a lot of heart into this. If I can sing it the way I want to sing I would sing it. But I want you to your all into it." Some people would get offended.
What's been the delay for your project?
Life. Life, real talk. I get so sown on myself, because I've been wanting for this project to come out for so long, I've been announcing it for so long. I'll get a new theme. I'll get into a bad financial situation. Something will happen where I'm like what's it going to take? It's just a project. It's an EP. Six, seven tracks. Why can't I get it out? Now I'm at a point where I'm balanced now. I have a good job. I have everything with my family going good. I feel my music more.
It's crazy, because you've received a lot of love and done a few shows off one project from a couple of years ago.
Not even. I've just been doing mixtapes with other people, collaborations. I've put out songs, tons of songs, but I've never done a full-on project where I put it out ever. But I've gotten mad love because I keep putting out songs. I keep myself doing shows. I network and I'm always showing face. I think that's why people always show me so much love, because they know that I'm still always working even though an entire project.
What's been the most difficult thing during the process?
The most difficult for me I think, like, I'm the type of person where I put my family, I love them so much, that sometimes I do more, I don't want to say I do more for them than I should, but sometimes I don't consider myself. My family is everything. My family needs anything I'll be there for them to the point where it'll affect my relationship. It'll affect everything because your family is always around.
Just trying to balance having a job, having a car, having a career, having a daughter, it's just so much to balance. It's hard to get organized when you have some much going. It's like ok I gotta be a mom right now. I don't like to try to fit in music like schedule it. at 3 o'clock I'm going to write a song. No. it has to come out of no where when I see something in front of me that I'm inspired by. So I'm trying to make it as organic as possible. It's just crazy. Life just throws you off coarse. But it's also the source of inspiration for the song. It's delaying things, but it's also creating things for me to write about.
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