Unfamiliar with the female musical artist named Summer Walker? Well, she is not a rocker, indie-folkster, rapper or pop princess... In simplest terms, the uber-talented Atlanta-born songstress is well on her way to becoming a world-famous, first-class R&B diva. Devotees of pure, unadulterated soul are showing their undying love for her by buying up every single to her current U.S. tour. "The Summer Walker Series" tour stop in Houston, Texas was no exception, the first announced show would sell-out in less than an hour. Consequently, any support or opening act on the tour was assured maximum exposure.

Most of Walker's fans were, more than likely, expecting a evening filled with the smooth, sultry sounds of up-and-coming R&B crooners. Imagine their collective surprise when it was revealed that the night's bill would include two quasi-singing male upstarts (NO1-NOAH and MarvXXL) and two-time American Music Award-nominated rapper Erica Banks, the self-proclaimed "Da Flow Queen." Maybe you've heard Erica's signature song, the explicit lyric-filled "Buss It?" While you may not have heard this men's club anthem, music-lovers across the globe have streamed the tune an astonishing 113,543,287 times (at press time), and this is even after it first went viral on TikTok in 2020. This rapping ode to contemporary dirty dancing (Songfacts reports "bussing it" refers to uninhibited dancing or twerking) and its accompanying (parental advisory) video has turned Erica into an, dare I say, immensely bankable celebrity.

Not meaning to throw shade, but Nicki Minaj's recently-released "Bussin" has only tallied a mere 24-million streams, roughly one-fifth of those garnered by rapper Erica Banks. Having Erica on Walker's current tour is starting to make a lot more sense, doesn't it?

I must confess, I don't use or frequent TikTok. Let's just say I'm a bit long-in-the-tooth for that sort of social media "tool." Surprisingly, Erica came to my attention via YouTube when its algorithms inadvertently (I assume) suggested I might enjoy viewing the NR-rated version of "Buss It." After some hesitation, my curiosity got the better of me and I watched it.

Guess what? I loved it! More than anything, I loved Erica's energy and incredibly apt rapping skills. Upon discovering she would be performing in Houston with Summer Walker, I made sure I secured a ticket to the concert. This was one show I had to see for myself!

I arrived the recently-opened 713 Music Hall late, so I missed the better part of NO1-NOAH and MarvXXL's relatively short sets.

I made my way to the front of the stage (to take photos) just as the pair of DJ/emcees introduced Erica to the audience in the jam-packed venue. From the moment the scantily-clad rapper appeared a palpable rush of adrenaline seemed to sweep through the crowd, myself included, and it didn't abate to roughly thirty minutes later, when the self-assured and seductive siren-like performer uttered her last, "Thank you, Houston."

Star power

During that frenzied half-hour, the 23-year-old rapper from Desoto, Texas performed a set of five songs, including "Toot That," her latest single "Slim Waist" and she ended her show with "Buss It." To make her concert experience even more exhilarating for audience members, she picked about a dozen women out of the crowd to join her onstage as additional back-up dancers.

A large, burly security man for Erica physically lifted the ladies from the crowd and gently deposited them next to the energetic rapper. Much to my surprise, all the women chosen from the 713 Music Hall crowd performed the quickly-taught choreography rather well. Banks was pleased, as was the 3,000-plus Houstonians who witnessed Erica, live, in the flesh.

Erica Banks radiates STAR POWER! No lie! This is coming from a man whose Spotify playlist is packed with songs by David Bowie and Brit-rockers Bastille. The last rap albums I purchased was in 1991, and they were Tupac's "2Pacalypse Now" and Public Enemy's "Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Back." Needless to say, it's been awhile since I've been genuinely excited by a rap artist.

No disrespect intended to either lady, but folks can keep buying records by Nicki Minaj and Asian Doll (two artists that Erica cites as influences), but I'm saving my dollars for the next album released by Erica Banks. I owe her. I didn't just witness an unforgettable performance, I experienced a state of bliss, one like I haven't felt in many, many moons.