Hailing from Harlem, Banks speaks pretty candidly about growing up “spoiled” in the “hood’ while frequenting the same blocks as “crack babies.”
“I grew up very spoiled,” she tells Times writer Will Self. “Like, I had everything: I had computers, I had video games, I had dress-up clothes, I had lipstick, I had heels — not like, actual heels, play heels — I had dolls, I had birds, I had hamsters — my mom did a really good job of keeping me stimulated.”
And while she admits she can’t really use the “‘I’ve come from the ghetto and it’s really hard’” narrative, the “212” rapper said she had a “healthy” dose of both the luxuries and the harsh realities of her environment.
“I came from the ghetto but it wasn’t hard for us, y’know what I mean? Because I lived on the block with kids who were, like, crack babies. I had other aunts and uncles who lived in other parts of Harlem, and I’d go with my cousins and we’d be out on the street, y’know . . . I had a healthy juxtaposition of, like, good and bad.”
In a way, Madame Banks herself is a healthy juxtaposition of good and bad. In the article, she helps us make the distinction between the c-word and the “k-word” (which is, in essence, the c-word spelled with a “k”).
“Apparently the former is soi-disant ‘nasty vagina,’ and therefore a synonym for ‘bitch,’ whereas the latter is gay argot for the desirably feminine,” Self writes.
And there you have it—whether she’s causing a riff in the music world or inspiring the fashion world, our poised and potty-mouthed Banks keeps it real. —Tanya Chen