He announces himself, even though he doesn’t have to. “Yo, yo, yo! It’s Baney Boy!” he exclaims over the phone from East London.
Yxng Bane is still getting used to his rising star — calling himself a “fresh artist” — though it’s inching towards undeniable territory. He punctuates a lot of his sentences with “if you know what I mean” or “do you know what I mean?” The thing about Bane’s specific habitual verbiage is that more and more people actually do know exactly what he means.
The 22-year-old artist is talking to Billboard because of his newly released mixtape, HBK (titled after his nickname, Heartbreak Kid). The 14-track project captures what was going on in Bane’s life during the summer of 2017. “It was at a time in my life where I was becoming an adult,” Bane explains, “and so I’m at the stage where I’m relatable to the generations below and the generations above — if you know what I’m saying. That’s exactly what I’m aiming to do with this project.”
Bane’s lyricism is “100 percent” taken from his real life and day-to-day experiences. Since he last spoke to Billboard about a year ago, he notes that he feels he has grown as a man since then by learning how to better deal with universal life situations. Because of his transparent approach as an artist, growing as a person directly correlates to his music’s maturity.
In one track titled “Needed Time,” a dancehall-type beat is the backdrop for a narrative about his position as an artist making relationships “much more sensitive and delicate” with lyrics such as “How could I give you all if you take from me?” and “Nothing ever comes for free.” Meanwhile, “Better” finds Bane getting even more vulnerable — directly addressing mistakes and shortcomings (“Falling out with my mother then falling out with my father / Took shit out on my brother”) and praying to do better.
“I want to love better. I want to be able to love [people in my life] in a better way. Love them more,” he explains. “I want to be able to work better, be able to work harder. Everything is about better. All the goods in our day-to-day lives are just wanting to be better. Do you know what I mean? I think it’s always good to go through life wanting better. Not wanting the most or wanting everything — just wanting better.”
Throughout the mixtape, Bane’s delivery rotates. Several songs — for example “Loving You,” “Christopher Nolan” and “Breakfast” — feature him singing, which he says fans can expect more of in the future. When asked if the story in “Loving You” demands to be sung instead of rapped, he lays out his reasoning for the approach.
“What happens with me and creating music is I let the beat take me or remind me of a certain place or being reflective of how I’m feeling at that specific moment,” he says. “And so, it’s never the song before the beat; it’s the beat before the song. Once the instrumental [for “Loving You”] was played to me, it was perfect at that time. That’s how I choose the express it would be solely dependent on what situation I’m thinking about when that beat plays or how it makes me feel. If I feel like I need to rap about it, I’ll rap about it. If I feel like I need to talk about it on the beat, I’mma talk. If I need to sing, I need to sing.”
To date, Bane has seen massive success with single releases. To start 2017, his remix of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” went viral. He rode that momentum with his original single “Rihanna,” released in August 2017, which racked up 23.9 million views on YouTube. Around the same time, “Bestie,” his collaboration with Yungen, charted in the top 10 of the U.K. songs chart. In July, Bane released a joint 10-track project with D-Block Europe called Any Minute Now.
So, is it any minute now before Bane releases a full-blown album? Not quite. HBK is meant to satisfy his fans’ cravings for a solo project before diving headfirst into something that he doesn’t feel he’s authentically ready for yet.
“The album thing…” he begins. “I feel like it’s a bit of I’m still a fresh artist. With an album, I feel like when I get to the album I would want to let them fully in, you know? My whole life story, whereas this project — as I explained — was more so 2017 summer. So, when it gets the album stage I want to be able to have experienced life and be able to tell. I want to be at that stage where I feel, ‘OK, I’m at the album stage in my life.’ Where I can speak to the people about my whole life.”
Baney Boy’s mission statement in the meantime: “Better and more.”
Listen to HBK in full below: