"Music Bear" Tony Banks is a rap/hip-hop star and poet from Brooklyn, New York, who is currently enjoying the success of his latest release titled "Static." Tony is openly gay and often writes songs about his experiences in relationships. Tony, who prefers to go by his "Music Bear" moniker, recently discussed his experiences as a musical artist and entertainer via an exclusive Interview.

Rap music and lyrics

Meagan Meehan (MM): What prompted you to start writing raps and poetry?

Tony Banks aka "Music Bear" (MB): I started when I was about fifteen.

One of my childhood best friends and I were going to start a duo rap/hip-hop group with me as the singer. That was when I first started writing songs, but I was always a lover of creative writing in school.

MM: How did you get your moniker, "Music Bear"?

MB: Music has always been a part of my life. I write, produce, sing, and rap. I've played brass instruments and dabbled in the keys. Add that to my size and the "Music Bear" name was born!

MM: As an openly gay man, have you found it difficult to break into the notoriously macho rap genre and industry?

MB: With the advancement of technology, anyone can be an artist. No longer are musicians chained to the machine. That gives other outlets space to work and bring in all types of music and acts.

But you still need a certain level of talent. Fortunately, I’ve been given the talent to work and get gigs in all kinds of markets. From straight Hip-Hop and Rock to opening for Drag Queens. Not many people care about the gay part if you can give a good show and there are some amazing LGBT hip-hop artists touring the world.

Now, how high up the ladder of success we reach is a different story but I think there is room for an openly gay rap superstar. We greatly see its potential in this "New Wave" of hip-hop.

MM: You have said that your life and people you know inspire some of your songs, so do you have any music with some particularly interesting backstories?

MB: I once wrote a track after reading about a gay man who was kicked out of his life partners home after he passed away because they weren’t married. I’ve written a song about being a go-go boy in a gay club dancing for tips. I wrote the track 'RUN' after reading about yet another death of an unarmed black man by the hands of the cops. I've written songs with lyrics about suicide, love, sex, pain, gay pride and turning up. Good music comes from living and being open.

Upcoming performances and projects

MM: What is your latest rap about and what has been some of the best feedback you've gotten from fans?

MB: 'Static' is about being in a relationship and knowing when enough is enough. Having the wisdom, strength, and courage to no longer let yourself live in someone's destructive shadow because, as they say, ain't nobody got time for that!

Fans like this track a lot. They get into it right away at shows. It is very relatable to a lot of people. It’s in many ways empowering, especially with that catchy funk beat and hook.

MM: How many songs have you penned overall and do you have any special favorites?

MB: Like I said, I've been writing songs since I was fifteen so that number I can't begin to tell you, but as of recent I wrote and recorded a song called 'Cloud 9' for my upcoming album 'Yes Homo' and had my partner join me on the track. He only says four words but they have deep meaning to me. Having him on it makes it very special.

MM: You also dance, so how did you get into that and which artists mostly influenced your dance style?

MB: I was probably dancing before I was singing! Michael Jackson was a huge inspiration to me as a child. I remember being a part of dance contest at cook-outs and always winning. So, as I grew, so did my love for dance and movement and with the re-emergence of dance in hip-hop on a global scale, it's at an all-time high. So why wouldn't I want to show off and show out? I'm constantly dancing during my shows. Taking a page from Missy and Heavy D, both who never ran away from dancing because of their size. I still love watching all the dance shows on TV and looking forward to my first full dance music video.

MM: What is coming up next for you regarding performances, projects, and music videos?

MB: I just released the music video for 'Static' which I'm excited about. I'm finishing up my new album and looking forward to performing the rest of the summer and going on a small fourteen-day tour in November and I will then hit the United Kingdom and Europe next spring.

To learn more about Music Bear Tony Banks, visit his official website title Music Bear Online. He can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching "Music Bear."