Ashlee Bankz is from Flossmoor, IL, a south-suburb of Chicago and describes herself quite simply, an adequately, dope as fuck. In a city that is a staple for legendary artists and a hotbed for multiple waves of new talent, infectious rapper Ashlee Bankz knows that she can’t rely on the reputation of Chicago. Instead, she is crafting quality music that will etch her name on the list of your personal favorites and a mainstay in your iPhone streams. Born with the first name Ashlee, a combination of life experiences and various abilities paved the road for her career. Growing up in the Chicago area, Bankz first love was the hardwood and not the studio. In a city known for producing quality basketball talent and being the home of “His Airness,” Bankz was also bit by the basketball jones. However, once her uncle passed in 2007 the passion for the game faded and music rose. Her late uncle carried the nickname LB, due to his resemblance to G-Unit star Lloyd Banks and often urged her to “get the money.” Upon her transition to the mic, Ashlee adopted the moniker “Bankz” as a tribute. At first I was going by Ashlee’ Shantice [middle name] but then I came across Ashlee Bankz by looking at a picture of my uncle. “It felt like he named me, so I kept the name” she shares. Bankz will tell you that she has been through the good and the bad in her life, making her stronger and letting her know that making her own moves can be the key to her success. Bankz is not the typical suburbankid. She has been through trials and been blessed to actually see what it’s like to work for something and see your dreams come true, by being hands on. Growing up, Bankz’s favorite genres of music rested between Hip-Hop and R&B, a fact which is evident in her work, which displays elements of both. Inspired by Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, TLC and more, Bankz has studied what’s necessary in order for her to be just as successful as her heroes. Ashlee Bankz has spent many years crafting her skills and releasing music, but no release has resonated with her or her fans like 2017’s “I Called You.” The single drew from personal experiences and became a jet pack to her career launching her into rooms and studios with industry elite, coverage in major publications, and the ears of major U.S. markets, such as her hometown radio staple WGCI. The single was a part of “Leave a Message,” a project that centers around a relationship that shockingly, to her testimony, left her feelings hurt. The chapter of her life, which then appeared to be a trial, eventually resulted in triumph and recognition by a new audience.
As of late, Bankz has been invited to Coachella, performed at SXSW, A3C and more. These experiences have brought her three key lessons: (1) not reacting to everything, (2)trust who has her best interest at heart and (3) opportunity is everywhere. With that project under her belt and eyes on her, Ashlee Bankz is going full speed ahead. Currently treating the booth as her second bed, Bankz is crafting project after project for her name to be just as renowned as those she looks up to. To reach that level she realizes that she must grow with her music or as she states it, “embracing the fact that I understand my feelings because my music is raw and real.”
GO BANG! Magazine: At what age did you know that you wanted to get into Hip Hop?
Ashlee Bankz: At the age of 12, I knew I wanted to get into Hip-Hop when my mom had bought an iMac computer. I would sneak and get on GarageBand to record myself. I was always fascinated by music at a young age, especially Hip-Hop.
GO BANG! Magazine: What hip hop artists inspire or motivate you, and why?
Ashlee Bankz: Nipsey Hussle – Nip inspired me because of his business tactics/mindset. Nip preached ownership, but he also SHOWED others the way. I learned a lot just by studying him, such as how to release music, start a label, and be independent.
Jay-Z – Jay is the G.O.A.T. Hov paved the way for entrepreneurs. Hov inspired me to be fearless as an entrepreneur and to own who I am, as well as what I believe in.
Lil Wayne – Wayne’s artistry is untouched. Wayne’s drive is inspiring alone. He’s a workaholic, which inspired me to work harder and stay locked in.
Missy Elliott- Missy made it cool for females to be original. Missy inspired me to not limit myself as a creative. Outside of being an artist, she’s inspired me to be more than just an artist. Like being a producer, songwriter, etc. Missy up’d the bar for me, showing it’s possible that I can hit any and every avenue I want too.
GO BANG! Magazine: How would you describe your style of Hip Hop?
Ashlee Bankz: My style of Hip-Hop is a mix between R&B and Hip-Hop. It’s pushing the bar. I show that I can rap with the hardest of the hardest and still be melodic with crazy melodies.
GO BANG! Magazine: What do you think about Chicago’s hip hop, as well as the female hip hop scene?
Ashlee Bankz: I think Chicago’s hip-hop is okay, it’s gotten better. As well as the female hip-hop scene, I feel there’s more work to do. There’s yet to be a female from Chicago whom has really dominated and changed the industry. I feel as if that’s my job to do that, and I will!
GO BANG! Magazine: What projects are you currently working on?
Ashlee Bankz: Current projects I’m working on: I’m planning on dropping another project this year. As of lately though, my focus has been on getting placements, while still creating my own content.
GO BANG! Magazine: What types of community involvement are you associated with, if any?
Ashlee Bankz: I am currently not involved in any community involvement. But as time permits, I would love to start an organization for younger girls, create a basketball team, and be more active with the homeless, as well as doing more for others in general.
GO BANG! Magazine: What do you think about the current rap music on the radio?
Ashlee Bankz: To be honest, I don’t really listen to the radio. Everytime I turn on the radio, I hear the same songs. The radio is clout based.
GO BANG! Magazine: Is there anything new that you’re working on, that our readers should be on the lookout for?
Ashlee Bankz: Follow my IG for all Ashlee Bankz updates @AshleeBANKZ.
It’s 2020! I’m focused more than ever! Look out for everything!
GO BANG! Magazine: You’re also an entrepreneur. Tell us about your company Rosemoor Enterainment.
Ashlee Bankz: Rosesmoor at the moment is my record label that I signed myself too. Eventually I am looking to expand Rosemoor into a full creative house. But first, I am focused on making Rosemoor Records the biggest record label coming from Chicago, as well as the first major record label founded by a female. Rosemoor Entertainment…I see us being on the top of Forbes, sooner rather than later.
GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off-guard. How are you dealing with it?
Ashlee Bankz: I’m dealing! I’m using this time to create, reflect, and get closer to GOD. The lockdown has been crazy, but I’m trying to remain positive and keep my mind as sharp as possible.
Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG! Magazine. Follow him on Facebook @Pierre Andre Evans, Twitter @Playerre, and on Instagram @Pierre_Andre_Evans.