Lano Bandz is the perfect example of someone who came from a rough background, and through music was able to turn his life around for the better.
Born and raised by a single mother in Jacksonville, Florida, the independent rapper began his musical journey playing drums at the young age of 5. Inspired directly by the greats such as Chris Brown and Usher, Lano started recording himself at age 19 with nothing but a laptop in his closet, which he used as his vocal booth.
Lano describes himself as “optimistic” where if something goes wrong, he’s always the person reminding you things will be okay.
He explains, “I overcame a lot of obstacles in my neighborhood and in my community. I never really saw anything successful around me so I had to build my own mindset and work my way out of my own city.”
Arriving with his own sound, cadences, and melody, the rising star spits bars over hard-hitting trap beats, speaking his truth and motivating others any chance he can.
Earlier this year, he released his standout single titled “Street Therapy,” pairing it with a heartfelt visual to match. Most recently, he released “Stop Us,” holding fans over until the release of his upcoming project titled Heart Lost In Da 4.
AllHipHop: What was it like coming up in Jacksonville, Florida? I just interviewed Foolio.
Lano Bandz: My city is one of those places where it’s home, but I want better for it. There’s a lot of poverty, things that I thought were normal such as the living conditions and how the community is over there. Violence, gang violence, things I considered to be normal — when I came out here, wow these people are living.” When you go to Beverly [Hills], they be living. It’s something better out there. Now that I’ve got a kid, I want to take my family and put them in an environment that I wasn’t able to be in as a child.
AllHipHop: You start doing music and playing drums at age 5, that’s impressive!
Lano Bandz: In every black household, on Sunday you go to church. They’re going to put you in the choir or make you do something, you’re not just sitting down. Man, I didn’t want to sing in the choir. I could sing, but I wasn’t trying to do that. I started playing the drums, they said “Oh yeah, you can be the drummer.” Ever since then, I really got into music. I went to middle school, played football and basketball, but I always did band. I’ve always done music my whole life, then I started making my own music in 2015.
AllHipHop: You started recording yourself?
Lano Bandz: Yeah, I was doing a lot of covers. Whatever the hottest song was, I’d do a cover to it.
AllHipHop: Rap or R&B?
Lano Bandz: Both. As a kid, I’d run around the house and pretend I’m Usher. I watched people like Chris Brown come up. Once I saw them doing it, oh that’s cool. You can really take your story and make it into something that people can love and enjoy. I thought that was dope. I’ve always liked poetry, but I never wanted to be a poet. I thought rapping was the way. I didn’t wake up one morning and said “Oh, I’ma be a rapper today.” I progressed into it.
AllHipHop: What’s the inspiration behind your name?
Lano Bandz: Lano, my middle name is Lanord so I really took that and chopped it. I chose that name because that’s my father’s middle name. Me and my father don’t have the best relationship, or a relationship at all. At one point, I wanted to change my last name which is Keys. I was so ashamed of my last night because of him. I said “Let me take what I got from him and make it into something better, something bigger.” And money, I just love money.
AllHipHop: You just released “Stop Us.” What were you going through recording this one?
Lano Bandz: That particular day, I had a conversation with someone. We’re talking about a situation that had happened a few years back where somebody that I really looked up to was upset that I chose to move to LA and pursue music, versus staying where they were. They’re telling people around us “Oh, he ain’t going to make it anyways. He ain’t going to do this.” It came back around like “Damn, that’s how you feel about me?”
On this particular day we’re having this conversation, I said “Damn, I can’t be stopped.” Honestly, the only person who can stop you is you. Everything bad can go wrong today, but it’s still up to you to make something out of it. Life is like a card game: whatever you draw is what you get. You gotta make something out of it.
AllHipHop: How is the independent grind?
Lano Bandz: It’s tough because everyday you think “oh we doing good!” Then you turn the corner like “Oh, s### I ain’t know how to do that. What is that?” You run into things, but I like it because once I get to a certain level, I’m able to look at somebody or a label and say “well, I’ve done all of this. I know you’re about to go do this, but I know how to do this.” I can be in more conversations, you can’t really leave me out or have a blind eye towards me. I try to understand all elements outside of the music that makes everything what it is.
AllHipHop: I felt you on “Street Therapy,” bring us back to that recording session.
Lano Bandz: When I recorded “Street Therapy,” I was in a real depressive state. I was still getting used to being out in LA. That was the first year I’d even been in LA, I’d been here for a few months. I was having a lot of reflections on life, back home and different stuff like that. My life in general, what I’ve been through, I was trying to overcome things personally. When I went to record “Street Therapy,” I had bronchitis recording the whole thing. I didn’t find out till afterwards. That whole tape besides “Can’t Fold” was a whole weekend’s process.
AllHipHop: Where did you record it?
Lano Bandz: At my music studio in Ontario. I went out to Ontario, recorded it for 2 days on the weekend. Came back to LA, I said “Man, I want to do an EP called ‘Street Therapy,’” because therapy is definitely needed. People look at it like “Oh I don’t want to talk to nobody,” but therapy is different when you go in and that person on the other side of the table doesn’t have a bias. They don’t know you. You don’t have that input from a mom or a brother’s perspective, so it’s a little different.
AllHipHop: You say “You’re a living product of your environment,” do you still feel like that?
Lano Bandz: Yes, in a way. There’s things about me I can’t change in a way, the way I do things sometimes. I have a hard time with that. [someone moving abruptly] It catches my eye. I’m a product of my environment to an extent. When it comes to how I think and my mental, nah. I broke out of a lot of bad habits I was taught by my community.
AllHipHop: You’ve worked with everyone from Casey Veggies to MyGuyMars to RMR. How did that happen?
Lano Bandz: RMR happened because of Chauncey, we were at Clubhouse, Bighead Music Group. Alex and Bighead got a set up over there, it was Grammy night. We all went there, it was a big studio session. We’re going through tracks, RMR was playing some of these tracks. I said “Oh, that s###’s fire.” He told me to plug in and said, “Let me hear something.” When we’re playing it, he said “Oh you hard.” He was putting me on game, telling me what to expect and things that may be coming my way. He gave me some good advice. He said “I’ve got something for you to hop on.” He AirDropped it to me. The next day, I literally went home and cut it, sent it to him in the morning. He said “hey bro, you can have the song.”
AllHipHop: Are you going to put it out?
Lano Bandz: Yeah, it’s going to be on my tape. MyGuyMars does AfterChurch LA and one night, I went in there. It was open mic, I got up there with his band and we rocked out. After that, he asked about my situation. We tapped in. That same week, we locked in at his studio. We cooked up and I worked with his artist as well, King Dreams.
AllHipHop: What about Casey?
Lano Bandz: Casey was one of the first artists I met in LA. We’re at the backside of The Study in Hollywood, I thought “Oh that’s Casey.” I went up to him, we’re talking for a minute. He gave me his number and said “lock in,” so I tapped in with him. I sent him over this song called “Nasty” that I was going to release back in 2019. He said “Bro, I didn’t know you were gonna slide like that. Bet, let’s get it in.” He set up this session, we recorded “Nasty” at Ultrium. We were going to shoot a video, but something happened to where it was a medical emergency. We never went back to it, but I’ll probably revisit it.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from your new project, Heart Lost in Da 4?
Lano Bandz: It’s full of day in and day out emotions within the Black community in the South. There’s going to be a lot of aggressiveness, a lot of heartfelt, then you’re going to have the in between. Situational things. It’s going to be pretty dope.
AllHipHop: What’s the meaning behind the title?
Lano Bandz: They say home is where the heart is. Even though I’m out here in LA, I’ve built a life and a family, a piece of my heart is always going to be in Jacksonville. It’s always going to be there.
AllHipHop: I see you on TikTok.
Lano Bandz: Yeah, I be doing little funny stuff. I hopped on TikTok like this week. I started posting my funny videos on IG this week. I used to do it a lot, then I stopped. But I’ma keep doing it because I’m one of those people that are naturally funny. Every now and then, you’ll get a joke from me. I think I make this man [points to manager] laugh all the time.
AllHipHop: What goals do you have for yourself?
Lano Bandz: I want to be able to reach enough people in my community so that way, I can see a difference. It’s different. You can go out and do little small things, but I really want to get to where I can see change in my community. It doesn’t have to be just me, but I can say I helped to get towards that goal of seeing my city thrive. Seeing my people believe in themselves because there’s so many talented people where I come from, they don’t give themselves a chance. How can you go out into the world and expect anybody to give you a chance, if you don’t even believe in yourself? You’ve got a talent, but you really have to dig in your heart and believe in yourself. That’s one thing I’ve learned: when nobody believes in you, when nobody wants to stand by you, you have to be willing to stand alone.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Lano Bandz: I’ve got one more single coming before the tape, it’s called “Way Too Long.” It’s crazy. Once the tape drops, we coming hard. We’ve got some visuals on the books too.