Ant Banks is a world-renowned, multi-platinum producer/artist known for creating heavy, low-end, funky bass lines, utilizing savvy recording techniques, concocting creative artist collaborations, and having his own distinct original sound. Interested in making music from an early age, the Oakland, CA native became involved with his school bands, learning to play a variety of instruments; which provided him with the necessary tools to become skilled at playing Funk-related music like Parliament Funkadelic, and The Gap Band. Diligently honing his craft, he would create beats and record his own versions of those classics for fun, serving as a precursor to becoming one of the music industry’s most sought after producers to work with. Ant Banks’ pioneering journey began in the mid-1980's as he began christening a slew of independent projects with the birth of what has become known as the "Oaktown Funk". His first taste of success came when he began working with friend and Oakland rap sensation M.C.ANT in 1985. The two recorded numerous 4-track cassette classics like "Feel the Bass" and "M.C. Ant & Ant Banks" along with countless others. In 1988, the early collaborators proceeded to release their first album entitled M.C. Ant The Great, with joint collaborative efforts by DJ Terry T. Distributing the tapes at their high school out of the trunk of their cars, the album went on to sell more than 60,000 units independently, paving the way for Ant Banks to expand his early production empire.
In 1989 Ant Banks hooked up with M.C. Pooh, a/k/a Poohman, to record Life of a Criminal, which contained the underground smash hit "Fuckin’ Wit Dank". The rise in popularity accounted to more than 150,000 units sold independently. By 1990, Ant Banks went on to produce Spice 1's 187 Proof E.P., another successful independent project that he put his signature production on, selling more than 200,000 units. The overwhelming success this project received opened the door for Spice 1 to sign a hefty, major label recording contract with Jive Records. Along with the releases of MC Ant, Poohman, Spice 1, and others, Ant Banks managed to sell over 400,000 units, without a record label or promotion. This turned him into a prominent figure in the Bay Area Hip-Hop scene by the early1990’s.
Ant Banks' big break came in 1990 when he was brought aboard to help produce on Too Short’s Short Dog’s In the House LP, where he provided contributions to several of the project’s songs like the album’s title track. The platinum success of Short Dog’s In the House, which debuted on the Billboard 200 at #20 and #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, convinced Too Short to sign Ant Banks to his label Dangerous Music, where he took the lead in ushering in the production team known as The Dangerous Crew. More career-defining success soon followed with Ant Banks’ first credited platinum production appearance on two 1992 hip-hop soundtracks, Juice and Menace II Society. During that same year, he was on production for Too Short on the platinum-selling Shorty the Pimp album, as well as providing production on over half of the platinum-selling debut for frequent collaborator Spice 1 for the self-titled Spice 1 album.
Through his burgeoning connections, Ant Banks signed a recording contract with Jive Records and released his debut album Sittin' on Somethin' Phat in 1993. The record featured live instrumentation, including guitar by notable former Parliament mainstay Michael Hampton. In 1994 he released the follow-up, The Big Badass album to critical acclaim and featured local rap group sensation Bad N Fluenz, which consisted of Ant Banks’ favorite rapper of all-time in the late Rappin’ Ron and partner Ant Diddley Dog. Rounding out his Jive Records catalog, Ant Banks released Do or Die in 1995, further showcasing his capable techniques on the microphone, his intricately laid bass-heavy production, and his meticulously skillful mixing. Throughout the decade of the 1990’s, Ant Banks continued to elevate his production prowess by producing numerous songs for countless artists such as the gold-selling single "Pimp Of The Year" for Dru Down, producing and mixing for Too Short on two gold-selling albums (Can’t Stay Away and You Nasty) and four platinum-selling albums (Shorty the Pimp, Get In Where You Fit In, Cocktails, and Gettin’ It), three gold-selling records for Spice 1 (Spice 1, 187 He Wrote, and Amerikkka’s Nightmare), and two gold-selling albums for fellow bay area ambassador E-40 (Hall of Game and Element of Surprise).
In 1997, Ant Banks’ style of production and creative collaborations continued to grow and expand when he moved over to Priority Records to release his star-studded Big Thangs project. Reaching out and flexing his collaboration arm, he recruited some of the West Coast's preeminent artists to assist him on the masterpiece. The results of his recruiting efforts included Ice Cube, 2Pac, E-40, King T, WC, Too Short, Dr. Dre, Coolio, Mack-10, and Ice-T. The strategy paid off as the project peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, number 20 on the Billboard 200, and sold over 300,000 units with no video & very little radio play.
During his time at Priority Records, Ant Banks also produced a string of hits including the first single, "Snoopafella", off Snoop Dogg’s No Limit Records release and platinum album No Limit Top Dogg, the gold-selling title track off Mack-10's Based on A True Story, as well as "Thugs" off the platinum-selling soundtrack Romeo Must Die.
April 1999, saw Ant Banks release his T.W.D.Y. (The Whole Dam Yey) Derty Werk project, experiencing a substantial hit with the lead-single "Player’s Holiday”. Reaching #41 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, T.W.D.Y. consisted of the core of Ant Banks, Rappin’ 4-Tay, and Captain Save’Em, with features from several of the bay area’s finest like Spice 1, Too Short, E-40, Mac Mall, B-Legit, Keak the Sneak and others. A little over a year later, Ant Banks followed with the second T.W.D.Y. album entitled Lead the Way, in which Oakland emcee Dolla Will replaced Rappin’ 4-Tay, and saw Ant Banks collaborate with artists like Kokane, Kurupt, MC Eiht, Butch Cassidy and Yukmouth.
Ant Banks has a diverse, yet impressive body of work which includes working with MC Breed, Anthony Hamilton, Something For The people, Too Short, E-40, MC Ren, 8Ball, Jayo Felony, and Big Pun to name only a few. He has provided contributions to projects associated with Jive Records, New Line Cinema, Priority Records, Island World, Death Row Records, Suave House, Warner Bros. Pictures, No Limit Records, Blackground Entertainment, Epic, Ruthless Records, Silver Pictures, Loud Records, Relativity, MCA Records, Island Pictures, Dimension Films, and others.
There’s little doubt that Ant Banks is a gifted and multi-talented producer with a string of success that’s rivaled by only a select few in the music industry. Throughout the career of Ant Banks his productions have been part of selling over 27,000,000 units and counting. He’s worked with a virtual “who’s who” of the entertainment industry, whether they’re a local talent looking for guidance from a man who’s seen it all, or an established artist seeking out the meticulous production ingenuity and mixing brilliance of “The Big Badass” Ant Banks.
The world is waiting with open arms for the Ant Banks legacy to continue and it’s only a matter of time before “The Big Badass” comes back with a vengeance, boasting a new stable of West Coast talent and music that is ready to take its rightful place in the decorated history of Ant Banks.
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