NEW ORLEANS — Catching COVID in January was a devastating ordeal for New Orleans rapper Alfred Banks. When the pandemic arrived in 2020, it nearly ended everything that Banks had worked for his entire life.
The pandemic essentially ended a seven-year relationship and his 9-5 job. Several tour dates, shows and collaborations were canceled. Ironically, the pandemic forced him to focus solely on his music — for the first time in his life.
And fate was on his side.
Following a stint of delivering food for Uber Eats Banks landed on his feet and is touring the country again.
Banks fills Zenger in on his return to music.
Zenger: Are you satisfied with your latest project: “The Range 2”?
Banks: What I’ve been doing lately is showing my range as an artist and the different genres I can do. I feel like I accomplished it pretty well. It’s a series. The first one had four songs and this one has six. I’m spreading out even more with the range. The reaction has been dope. I just started a tour a couple of days ago, and I’m excited by the way people received it.
Zenger: How far do you plan on going with this particular series?
Banks: I have no idea at the moment. As long as I’m in this mode, whatever hits me is what I do. There’s only one project I have been planning for a while, and it’s coming out later this year. Outside of that, I create from inspiration. I’m not a guy that writes to just write. I also don’t think that far ahead. I go with the flow. I may do two more installments, I may do one more, I may not do anymore. It depends on what mood I’m in.
Zenger: You seem to be in a great place right now, but that wasn’t the case two years ago. The pandemic really did a number on your personal life and career.
Banks: I caught COVID in January . It sucked. Physically, it was bad, so to make it past that was really cool. The pandemic wasn’t a good time for me. I was in a long-term relationship that ended. I had a day job at the time that ended because of COVID. I had 60 to 70 shows lined up — they all got canceled. My entire livelihood, my entire life, got uprooted, and I had to start from scratch.
It really forced me to get back to the basics of what got me the name I have. I had to grind. From 2016-2019, I didn’t have to make as many phone calls as I used to. I didn’t have to send as many emails. I didn’t have to DM as much as I used to. People were just reaching out and locking me in for events. These tours and festivals were just happening naturally. COVID shut everything down. I had to figure things out. I was able to bounce back from it.
I am grateful for that experience. I didn’t take music for granted, but now I definitely don’t take it for granted. Before COVID, I wasn’t a rapper for a living — now I am. It took the pandemic for me to really make things happen. June made my second year of being a full-time musician. I’m blessed. I took a bad situation and made it work.
Zenger: Sometimes, you don’t realize how strong and resilient you are until you have no choice. Did you surprise yourself by how much you overcame?
Banks: I really did surprise myself. I’ve been through a lot in my life. I went through so much in those seven months, but then you fast-forward to about 2021, and Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans. I had to deal with that on top of the pandemic. All of those things, grinding it out and working my butt off every single day to make it happen and keep the dream alive.
For me to be standing tall now says a lot about my character. At any point I could have gone another way and started doing something else. I believed in my music enough to know this wouldn’t be forever. I know the connection I have with my fans is deep. Those relationships were strengthened during the pandemic.
I surprised myself by the way I was able to overcome so much, especially a doing it by myself. Now, being on with PR Amplified, having a beautiful publicist [Angelique Phipps], an incredible manager, incredible teammates, and booking agents really gets me going again.
Zenger: At one point, you delivered meals for Uber Eats, right?
Banks: Indeed. From May 2020 to about July 2020, I was doing Uber Eats on a bicycle. I was making $50 to $60 a day just to try to keep things going during the pandemic. During that time, I was still recording and do features when people would reach out. I remember being in an Uber one time specifically headed to do this big feature. It was honestly because the bread [money] was perfect. To know that somebody would think that much of me to put me on a record, the emotions flowed through me.
It all caught up to me, and I just cried in the Uber. It let me know that I would make it through this bad situation. Uber Eats was a lifesaver. It helped me get back on my feet. It helped me stay focused, and let me know that I had something. From that point, I was able to jump back into the shows. Now, I’m back on tour. My first tour in three years and these are the things I was able to get back to because of that hard work.
Zenger: Since you have experienced the lows what does the highs feel like?
Banks: The highs feel amazing. Just last night, I did a show in Dallas with Devin The Dude, and the night before, I was in Austin, same situation. These are the type of things that I don’t take for granted, and it feels amazing to be back doing these things on these bigger stages, introducing my music to fans. Also, having people from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio drive out to see my performance is an amazing feeling.
Seeing these people come to my shows with my merch on… I had a young lady come to the show who printed her own T-shirt. It feels incredible to know that even after all I’ve been through, people are still in tune with what I got going on. That’s a blessing.
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