Benny Banks – The Story & Revival
9 Jun 2021
For those who have followed or been engulfed in the UK scene around it’s early years, Benny Banks is likely to be a name that holds tonnes of memories, but you’re almost locked away from accessing any of it.
Benjamin O’Leary AKA Benny Banks embarked on his journey in 2009, taking inspiration from what some might regard as pillars in the scene such as Joe Black. The North London rapper quickly began gaining attention after collaborating with Black himself as well as attracting hundreds of thousands of views off the back of singles and freestyles on SBTV, numbers that were seemingly unimaginable in those years.
One thing led to another and he was soon the face of every urban channel, from making a memorable appearance in Charlie Sloth’s inception to ‘Fire In The Booth’ with his lyrics on paper to signing with the record label, 679 artists, who had the likes of Kano, Plan B, and The Streets in their roster, the stars certainly seemed to be aligning, but what happened after?
The rapper went on to release his debut mixtape, ‘Patiently Waiting Vol.1’ & 2, whilst also working hand in hand with Dappy, another name in the limelight in the early 2010’s, however his output after was inconsistent to say the least, with infrequent appearances on the likes of Link Up TV’s ‘Behind Barz’ and other singles such as ‘Bada Bing!’. There are more rumoured reasons for his leave than we can count, but from a listener’s point of view, we can only smile that he’s back fighting!
On December 12th, he did just that and released his first single in what we can refer to as the comeback in ‘Eye For An Eye’, a truly spectacular single to return to the scene with, encompassing everything the UK audience ever loved about Banks, as he effortlessly told his come up and the obstacles surrounding him. For virtually no campaign and simply his core fanbase to rely on, the single performed extremely well, accumulating over 2 million streams across all platforms with visuals!
He then followed up with a sequel per se in ‘Tooth for a Tooth’ soon after, a single that covers similar themes but on a livelier beat as Benny made it extremely clear that he’s here to stay. Whilst some might say it didn’t hit home as much as the first, it was both great to see Benny maintain consistency in releases whilst also trying something a little different with productions as this particular single also performed well, attaining 700,000 streams across YouTube and Spotify!
After a mini-hiatus, he then delivered two releases, the first in his ‘Daily Duppy’ which pulled heartstrings as Banks rode a slower beat and had a conversation with his listeners on his struggles over the years. A lyric that was sure to make people pay attention was when he stated, “your favourite rapper used to hit me up for features, now it’s me that probably needs em”, making us as listeners reflect on his influence coming up around 2009-12. With over 1.5 million streams, it was clear the ‘Daily Duppy’ was appreciated by his core fanbase whilst also pulling in thousands undoubtedly with his effortless skill on the beat. Not too long after, he gifted us another single titled ‘Reality Cheque’, one where he continued to reflect on his past but choosing to do so on much slower productions.
The story of Benny Banks still has many grey areas from the last decade, but one thing for certain is that he’s come back kicking and at a great time. It’s clear to say that real rap, in terms of it’s traction with the audience, is finding its feet again with Potter Payper, Rimzee, Youngs Teflon, and Ard Adz all releasing mixtapes from September to date, so throw Benny Banks into the mix and we’re looking at an incredible class of rappers who have successfully maintained relevance at the highest level for over a decade!
Additionally, with rumours of a project from Benny, it’s clear to see that he’s here to stay and whilst he’s reconnecting with his fans from years back, there’s a clear level of respect and admiration from younger listeners as they find themselves tuning in to an artist who makes his craft look effortless!