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Lay Bankz – 2024 XXL Freshman Freestyle, Interview and More

todayJuly 7, 2024 6

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  • GOV’T NAME: Layia Watkins
  • AGE: 20
  • REPPIN’: Philadelphia
  • X: @bankerrz
  • INSTAGRAM: @laybankz
  • TIKTOK: @thelaybankz
  • NOTABLE RELEASES: Songs: “Na Na Na,” “Ick,” “Sloppy Seconds (Ick Pt. 2),” “Tell Ur Girlfriend”; EP: Now You See Me ; Project: After 7 ; Guest Appearances: Ciara’s “Da Girls (Dance Mix),” Kyle’s “Woah,” Bandmanrill’s “Piano”
  • LABEL: Artist Partner Group
  • CURRENTLY WORKING ON: Untitled project dropping later this year.
  • WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR’S CLASS: “Karrahbooo. Anycia. I think both of them are really talented. They be on some cool sh*t, and I’ve really been on that chill music vibe, recently. The Detroit chill vibe. So, yeah, I think they should have made it. I think they would have killed sh*t.”
  • INFLUENCED BY: “Lauryn Hill, if we’re talking about hip-hop music. Lauryn Hill is just amazing. Like, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I’ve been listening to it for, like, two months straight now, back-to-back. Missy Elliott is just dope all across the board. Her music is very artsy, and I feel like I have an artsy style of music. And, yeah, just the crazy ad-libs and the crazy sounds when they come on, it’s just very captivating.

    Beyoncé ’cause she’s just an amazing performer. She’s an amazing artist. Just the development of her career. I’ve been a Beyoncé fan since the beginning of my life. Aaliyah. I think her style and just how sweet of a girl she was, just very inspirational.”

  • AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “I was the cool kid. I was funny. I was quirky. I loved anime. I still do love anime. I skateboarded. I was in musical theater, and I’ve been a singer. The artsy, fun girl. I was just having fun, experimenting, trying sh*t and just being myself.”

TRUTH ON BEING AN XXL FRESHMAN: “I seen me on the fake list and I was like, No, no, no. If I made a fake list, I gotta be on a real list. I called my team and I’m like, ‘Yo, did y’all see this?’ I said to the group chat and like, ‘Is this real?’ And they’re like, ‘Well, no, the list is fake, but you did make it this year.’ I’m like, ‘Yo, that is f**king crazy.’

I started [paying attention to the Freshman Class] probably when I was like 12 or 13. Around that time, Lil Uzi Vert and PnB Rock came out. That class was what really opened me up. Five years ago, I started making music and I started wanting to be a Freshman. If you’re not a Freshman, what are you doing?

It’s time for me to be in people’s faces and show them who I am along with the music. I think that everybody has their own sense of individuality, but mine stands out in my own way because of what I do. I dance, I sing, I rap, I write. And I’m just original with doing it. I freestyle in the booth, I produce.

[When the cover is released, I’ll] probably turn up with my girls, my family. I gotta turn up with my team, too, because I wouldn’t be this far without them. I think [my fans are] gonna be hyped. You come with a look, you take the picture for the cover, then you do the freestyle. And the freestyle is really the build-up moment. But I think the cypher is like, this is how I’m coming. I feel like this is gonna open the door for the hip-hop world for me. I feel like the hip-hop world knows me, but after this, they’re gonna really know me.”—As told to Bianca Torres

Watch Lay Bankz’s 2024 XXL Freshman Freestyle

Lay Bankz 2024 XXL Freshman freestyle

XXL

Lay Bankz is a playful amalgam of what hip-hop looks like in 2024. A confident rapper who sings, dances, and has the kind of zeal that leads to superstardom. She’s a bit spicy, too; don’t sleep on her clap-back game. And she does it all with that Cheshire Cat-like smile that lights up a room. While TikTok can get a bad rap for making artists popular that don’t necessarily deserve the acclaim, the 20-year-old Philadelphia native has used the platform to her advantage by showcasing her personality in myriad ways. The songs that got her noticed—”Left Cheek (Doo Doo Blick),” “Na Na Na” and “Tell Ur Girlfriend”—are full of the lively lyrics and upbeat energy that complement her spirit. But she does things a little differently for her 2024 XXL Freshman freestyle by bringing her serious side to light.

“Lately, it’s been a lot on my mind,” Lay expresses in the video below. “Fighting battles internal inside/There be some days I can’t talk to my mom/’Cause I’m dealing with so many feelings and really I’m feeling like I should unwind/And just speak on the thoughts that I bury, like if I don’t make it at least I was trying.”

The rising rhymer, whose signed to Artist Partner Group, puts her struggles out in the open. From burying loved ones to pulling back on unfulfilled dreams, Lay keeps it real on what she’s going through. “I can’t give in, I can’t give out/And when the pressure caving in, I make some diamonds out of dirt/Ghetto angels protecting me from sin, but I buried some bodies and it hurt/Have you ever been f**ked up, that’s the worst/All the sh*t I’m accomplishin’ my first/I was doin’ the most to get close to my dreams and abandonin’ hope ’cause it don’t work.”

She even switches up her flow, giving more life to her bars: “Bad grades now they on to me, city hated me now they all proud of me/And the music kept a smile on me/But the industry fake, they lied to me.”

Lay Bankz takes a page from one of her inspirations with these rhymes. “Lauryn Hill, if we’re talking about hip-hop music,” she shares of artists she’s influenced by. “Lauryn Hill is just amazing. Like, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I’ve been listening to it for, like, two months straight now, back-to-back. Missy Elliott is just dope all across the board. Her music is very artsy, and I feel like I have an artsy style of music. And, yeah, just the crazy ad-libs and the crazy sounds when they come on, it’s just very captivating.”

Singers also play a part in Lay’s artistry. “Beyoncé ’cause she’s just an amazing performer,” Lay says. “She’s an amazing artist. Just the development of her career. I’ve been a Beyoncé fan since the beginning of my life. Aaliyah. I think her style and just how sweet of a girl she was, just very inspirational.”

But don’t get it twisted; she’s doing it all in her own way. “It’s time for me to be in people’s faces and show them who I am along with the music,” she maintains. “I think that everybody has their own sense of individuality, but mine stands out in my own way because of what I do. I dance, I sing, I rap, I write. And I’m just original with doing it. I freestyle in the booth, I produce.”

Lay’s motion is undeniable. After tracks like “Na Na Na” and “Ick” brought her further recognition in 2023, the work she had been putting in ever since she first started rapping at 10 years old was paying off. Millions of streams, viral dances, the Now You See Me EP and After 7 project have led up to this moment.

See Lay Bankz make diamonds out of dirt in her 2024 XXL Freshman freestyle.—Georgette Cline

Watch Lay Bankz’s 2024 XXL Freshman Freestyle

Watch the 2024 XXL Freshman Class Revealed

2024 XXL Freshman Cover (Click to Enlarge)
(Click to Enlarge)

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See the 2024 XXL Freshman Class Artists and Producer





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