Singer/songwriter Jacob Banks crafts his songs around his rich baritone voice, drawing from gospel, blues, R&B, reggae, and elements of hip-hop for his multi-layered productions. Following a series of well-received EPs and song placements in games, film, and television, the Nigerian-born, England-based artist made his album debut in 2018 with Village, released on major-label Interscope. He followed it with a handful of singles issued in 2019 and 2020. Following the release of For My Friends, an EP issued in 2021, Banks went independent, launching Nobody Records in 2022 with Lies About the War, reflecting his love for traditional spiritual music and classic soul.
Originally from Nigeria, Banks moved to Birmingham at the age of 13. He was encouraged by a close friend to pursue a career in music, following the many local gigs that the pair attended. When his friend passed away in 2011, Banks sang at his funeral and subsequently focused his attention on ensuring that a wide audience heard his music. In 2012, a regional category at the MOBO UnSung awards was only one of a handful of competitions that he was successful in that year. By the time 2013 came around, he had already recorded his debut EP and supported East London hip-hop artist Plan B. Following the release of the EP The Monologue in January, he began to receive regular airplay on mainstream U.K. radio and was also asked to support Emeli Sandé on her spring 2013 tour. In 2014, as a featured artist, he hit the U.K. singles chart twice, first with Wretch 32′s “Doing OK,” then with Chase & Status’ number 21 hit “Alive.” Two years later, Banks delivered the EP The Paradox, which included the single “Monster,” featuring Avelino. Also around this time, Banks guested on several tracks, appearing on Sigma’s “Redemption” and SeeB’s “What Do You Love?” In 2016, he released the single “Monster 2.0,” featuring Boogie. The following year, he returned with the Boy Who Cried Freedom EP. This release included the single “Unholy War” which would be used in numerous games and television shows as well as “Chainsmoking,” which would reappear on debut studio album Village when it arrived in late 2018. The high-definition production of the album captured the full scope of Banks’ many muses and included guest appearances from Bibi Bourelly, Seinabo Sey, and NANA.
During 2019 and 2020, Banks released singles ranging from “Love Ain’t Enough” to “Devil That I Know,” and was featured on Grace Carter’s “Blame.” He returned in 2021 with For My Friends, an EP more atmospheric than his first album, and then left Interscope to establish his own independent label, Nobody Records. Lies About the War, informed by time spent listening deeply to gospel and soul artists such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sam Cooke, and Al Green, was released in June 2022. ~ James Wilkinson