Through his strong friendship with Lil Boat, and the ATL being just a few hours away from Savannah, JBAN$ is off to an impressive start. The rapper has been putting in work -- his 2017 debut self-titled mixtape introduced the artist to the world with guest features by Offset, Lil Pump, and Lil Yachty. It featured the singles “Walked In Ready” and “Ride!” which have amassed over 50 million streams for the rapper. He’s also toured with Yachty on the Teenage Tour, been featured on several outlets including PAPER Magazine and HotNewHipHop, and was seen on MTV’s Fear Factor alongside Lil Yachty.
Now, with Sail or Sink, JBAN$ is bringing Atlanta hip-hop together, while showing the strong relationships he has with artists that have helped bring him to this point. The mixtape boasts features from Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, Offset, Quavo, Smooky Margielaa, Blackbear, Duwap Kaine, K Supreme, and of course Lil Yachty. Sail or Sink, I'm just telling different aspects of my life,” BAN$ says. “I feel like every song is a different story within itself.”
Billboard sat down with the up-and-coming rapper, and he spoke on his new mixtape, his relationship with Yachty, how he got this impressive list of features on the mixtape, and his fears with making a career in music. Stream the mixtape below, and check out the rest of our Q&A after the jump.
What’s the story behind you joining Yachty’s Sailing Team?
I was in high school doing the regular teenage stuff, going to parties and all that. Yachty and I were close friends way before the team was an actual thing. We did everything together. He was already rapping and I'd be in the studio with him just watching how everything works. There was a time in the studio where we saw an opportunity to make a group with all of our friends through music. It was a lot of us that loved music and just came together. It wasn't planned, like us recruiting people, we were all just friends that made it up.
What have you learned from Yachty as you came up with the Sail Team?
Just how to cope and how to move with this industry. When you get that type of success, money, and fame, I learned how I was going to deal with that through them. I learned how important the responsibilities are that come with the success, like making sure your family and close ones are straight. The biggest thing I learned was being able to take your opportunity and pass it down to your loved ones and help put them in the positions to make the best opportunity they can.
Looking at this stacked list of guest features, who challenged you the most in the studio?
Yachty challenged me the most because I'm the closest with him. We have the best relationship, so he knows exactly what I'm capable of, creatively. I might say something and he'll say that I'm better than that, or that I'm able to do more. He knows what I can do, so he pushes me to be the best that I can be. I feel like he was the one that really challenged me to go hard. But everyone who I recorded with, I have a strong relationship with them -- a good 95% of them. I've been in their house just vibing because it's really deeper than rap. Those are really my brothers. I have that type of relationship where they can tell me anything and it won't be me taking it to the heart.
What does it mean to be a part of the new wave of Atlanta artists, being that you witnessed the dominance the region has had on hip-hop in the last 15 years?
It's a big responsibility, because when you look at Atlanta music, there are so many legends and so many people who did it and set the bar so high. It's a lot of pressure, but something I have to live with, because I have no other option but to just be great at what I'm doing. There are so many other artists that came before me that I have to pay homage to. I have to do what I have to do to show those that came before me that I'm carrying the legacy they left behind. To deal with pressure like that, you really can’t think about it. I'm just in the studio locked in trying to make the best music, I don't like going to the club or anything like that. Each song I make, I can hear my sound and everything else progressing and how comfortable I am with each track.
What is the story you’re trying to tell with Sail or Sink?
Being born in Savannah and growing up in Atlanta, you see a lot of different encounters and obstacles, so it's just me talking about that. Even if its a party song, there's always a backstory. In life, you're either going to sink or sail. There are only two ways to go in life, up or down; there’s no in-between. My whole outlook with the idea is that I'm going to sail. I'm trying to do everything positive and in the right way. It's not about making bad decisions because those can ruin your life forever.
How did you get the massive support from these high-profile artists you have featured on the mixtape?
It was just from the strong relationships I have with these people. I've known everyone on there for years -- since I was in high school. Growing up in Atlanta, which is small, everybody knows and is always around each other. So from there, we build these relationships and once you build that and they see you're a solid person, that relationship will be strong and it's always genuine. I have everyone's number that I worked with on this project where I can call them at any moment if I need something, or vice versa. It's genuine relationships that built over time.
What are some of your fears finding a career in music?
I know now with music, I feel like it's not really about just the music anymore. It's also about gimmicks and what you can do with social media to popularize yourself. I don't want to be known for doing things just to go viral. I just want it to be about the music, I want people to really feel what I'm saying, like, if you're going through something you can listen to my music. I want to make songs for every type of mood and encounter. I'm not a big social media person, I do it just because it's a necessity. But with how everything is right now, that's probably the only thing I'm scared of. I don't want to get out of my element just to be able to do something.
With all the support from other artists and coming up under Yachty, how important is it for you to carve your own lane?
It's not even just me. With Migos and Yachty, they want me to do that. I feel like when everyone has their own thing going on, and we come together with our own shit, it becomes the strongest thing ever. I feel like that's how we can take over the world -- when we come together. When you see how every person has their own thing and see what can come of it, it's impressive.