Rapper Bankrol Hayden talks new mixtape amid first headlining tour


Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records

Bankrol Hayden will make a stop in Chicago on his tour Thursday at Subterranean.

Joanne Haner, Senior Staffer

California-raised rapper Bankrol Hayden said he’s always wanted to be his own boss. At 21, he’s well on his way, beginning his first headlining tour this month. His second studio album, “29,” released this year, debuted almost three years after his debut album “Pain is Temporary.”

“It just started with me wanting to chase a dream,” he said. 

Although his eyes weren’t always set on the music scene, his older brother’s band inspired him during childhood. He began by freestyling in his grandma’s basement and was soon launched into the world of making music. 

The title from his newest album, “29,” derives from important milestones in Hayden’s life. On Nov. 29, 2018, he broke his back, arm and ribs in a car accident. Two years prior, his grandmother passed away on the same day. He calls it his “angel number.”

“If I’m dealing with bad things in life, whenever I’m living too fast or need to slow down, I see that number, and it’s like a warning,” Hayden said. “I know it sounds stupid, but I feel like it’s real.”

Hayden added that talking about these experiences feels like a shift in energy and makes him feel vulnerable. He wanted to incorporate those aspects of his life into his music. 

While he doesn’t necessarily feel like he can compare himself to any one artist, he enjoys listening to popular rappers like Drake and Kid Cudi.

“I always listen to music with emotion, which is crazy because my music is the opposite of that,” Hayden said. “I like to keep it up-tempo, feel good, easy for people to sing along. I try to stay true to myself too.” 

As a young artist, Hayden has much of his career ahead of him. He said he’s taking it step by step, but his song “Courtside” has become the anthem for the holiday season on NBA on ESPN. His newest album also features several other big-name rappers, including Lil Tecca, Blueface and Lil Skies.

His latest venture, “The 29 Tour,” has stops in 21 cities, including Subterranean in Chicago on Thursday. But it hasn’t been long since Hayden came to Chicago. He performed at the Juice WRLD Day Festival at the United Center in December, alongside Trippie Redd, Cordae, Ski Mask the Slump God and more.

“I’d never been more nervous for something. I was throwing up before I went on the stage,” Hayden said. “But once I went on it was perfect.”  

Hayden says he’s excited to connect with fans in a more intimate concert setting, adding that having a loyal fanbase is the “most important part.” 

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Twitter: @joanne_n_h

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