Mr. CLB, real name Corey L. Banks Sr., originally from Hollis Queens, NY now residing in Los Angeles, CA, is the founder & CEO of Banks Brand Music™. He is the youngest son of the late head A&R of Black Music at RCA & Kent Records, Northern Soul pioneer/songwriter/composer Larry Banks, who penned the Moody Blues debut hit “Go Now” in the early 1960’s (which has since been covered by Paul McCartney & Wings, Cher during the 1970’s and most recently, Simply Red and even Ozzy Osbourne) and the Elvis Presley wartime anthem “Soldier Boy” (originally recorded by The Four Fellows after Larry and Army buddy David Jones, returned from fighting in the Korean War) just to name a few & Kent Records recording artist, songwriter/composer Jaibi.
Groomed early on, Corey etched his own career in music and was well known throughout the NY/Tri-State hip-hop community, recording under the name CeStyle, founder of the legendary NY underground group/crew Total Pack which later transformed into The Korp (also featuring fellow Hollis Mc’s and childhood friends, Total Pack Crew membee Eguan and former Funk Clan member Legacy A-Fective aka Buttaraspy). As CeStyle of Total Pack, Corey was signed to Columbia Records (1993), then Wild Pitch/EMI (1995) after building a reputation and core following from his frequent radio freestyles on the legendary Stretch & Bobitto 89.9 fm WKCR & 97.1 fm Hot97 x Wildman Steve on 90.3 fm WBAU radio shows and live performances/alignments throughout the Northeast U.S., alongside the likes of future legends such as Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Mobb Deep, Big L, Wu Tang, Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles, EPMD, K Solo, Nas, Das EFX, O.C., Pharside, The Roots, Busta Rhymes, MC Serch, Large Professor, Artifax, Non-Phixion and others, many of which held his talents in high regard and respect as a lyricist/MC.
Early on, due to a distinctive voice & mic presence, paired with the fact that he is also a very talented producer that at the time made all of his own beats, Corey was featured in his first publication in 1990, the failed One Nut Network, then again in Hits Magazine, then in a small write-up in Billboard Magazine in , then Source Magazine’s Unsigned Hype in 1991, then again in Source Magazine’s Phat Tape section in 1995 for his Wild Pitch Records demo song “What’s The Deal” which was never commercially released but addressed many of the music industry’s cons. He also appeared in the debut issue of the former Blaze Magazine as well as mention in an article in Vibe Magazine written by Bobby “Bobitto” Garcia. Corey made history in 1992 when he signed with Sony/Columbia Records after passing on a deal with Interscope, along with his then rap partner Kamal B Wize (now known as Dr. Goodbody of the Bartendaz workout/nutritional team), for being the first Hip-Hop artists ever to sign a major deal with no demo. Managed by Hit Squad/Shuma Managements Sandy Griffin, they rapped live in the office of the then Columbia Records head A&R Faith Newman and VP of A&R, David Kahn and walked out with a 10 album deal worth an initial $120,000 for their first album which at the time was a big deal because the average budget for a hip-hop artist at the time was around $70k-$80k, and made them the second artists of any genre to achieve such a feet. Sadly, the group never released anything under their Columbia situation due internal creative conflicts between Corey & Kamal accompanied by a lack of effort from their A&R who was more focused on Nas and The Fugees first albums. Total Pack was dropped from the label after 1-yr and Corey & Kamal split ways as partners.
In 1995, Corey signed a solo deal with Wild Pitch/EMI, by then VP of the label, former manager of Total Pack, MC Serch but continued to perform under the Total Pack name. The Wild Pitch Records deal went sour when the label lost its distribution with EMI, leaving Corey’s career in limbo once again at no fault of his own and in 1997 parted ways. Despite having an incredible reputation and earning the respect of hip-hop fans as far away as Europe, Corey was never able to attain the type of success in the music business awarded to his peers of the time.
The year 2000 brought a new change in Corey’s career and life. After the birth of his first born, Corey “CJ“, in 1995 then his second born Jermil “JayyGawd,” the family moved to Houston TX, where 3 months later his 3rd child, JaDaya Koray was born and 2-yrs later his 4th, Nahkim. Through it all Corey continued to record and release music on his own and continued to learn the business side of music, determined to pave his own way. In 2004, Corey released his first official album as CeStyle, the self produced “Amnesia: Cuz Y’all N%ggaz Forgot” on Iron Kladd Entertainment/D’Arc Angel Records. Prior to that release, Corey had released various 12″ singles on different indie labels such as “Champion,” “We Comin,” & “Never Ending Story,” on Stretch Armstrong’s Dolo Records and “Thumpathon 1: Title Shots” & “Excelsior” on Plasma Records (which was owned by deceased hip-hop artist Too Poetic aka Grim Reaper of Wu Tang’s “The Grave Diggers”) but received no marketing push from the labels involved. With Amnesia, Corey took full control of every aspect of marketing his music, no longer waiting for labels to decide when they where going to do the work , independently selling over 10,000 units on his own with no distributor, selling out of his trunk at car washes, parking lots, clubs, beauty salons and wherever he could throughout the south. Corey also toured for a short time with r&b group H-Town (of Knocking The Boots fame, just prior to the untimely death of their lead singer Deno) and Lil Wayne and his then crew “Squad Up.”
2005, Corey and his family moved back to NY where he formed the collective I.K.E., an acronym for his then company Iron Kladd Entertainment (which was originally formed in Houston), in Brentwood L.I. with his longtime protege and friend Lee Boogz and Kirk Bannano aka Nanno. With their slogan being “Go Ask Tina If I.K.E. Got Hits,” a play off of Ike & Tina Turner, the I.K.E. collective took on various line-up changes with featured artists maintaining its core 3, recorded together from 2006-2010 and in that time released 20 mixtapes/street albums independently utilizing production from other up-and-coming hip-hop producers, including the single/video “Fresh Dressed,” and the locally successful “Let Drumz Make U Famous” street LP which sold 3000 units out of the trunk in its first 2 weeks, utilizing the “hustle your music yourself” mentality Corey aquired while living in and touring Texas and the south as well early internet music marketing tactics and outlets that were available being one of the early independent hip-hop artists utilizing social media and other early digital platforms to build a niche outside of the traditional industry but lacked the proper financial backing to market on a large scale.
During this time is when Corey learned the art of branding and decided to focus more on building a brand than simply being an recording artist. In 2014, for the first time in his career, Corey decided to reveal his historic ancestry, which he had never leaned on in his career, and recorded the song “Don’t You Know” on which he samples his mother Jaibi’s single of the same title which was written, composed & produced by his father, Larry on RSVP Records, then shortly after, the controversial single/video “Caligula” which is reminiscent of What’s The Deal in that it addresses negative practices within the music industry. In 2013, Corey was contacted by Chopped Herring Records to release a limited collectors edition of rare, unreleased songs from Corey’s years as CeStyle entitled “Total Pack: Parkhouse Music 1995-1998 EP” was released in milti-colored vinyl. Only 350 copies were printed to keep it a rare collectors item.
In 2015, after leaving NY once again, moving to Los Angeles, Corey formed Banks Brand Music™, which was created as a management, artist development, production, music publishing, record company to represent the entire Banks family’s musical legacy and pave the way for his sons CJ Banks, Jayy Gawd, Nahkim and daughter JaDaya Koray, who first got their start in music as the kids hip-hop group IKEKiddz, instilling vision, creativity, drive, dedication and the work ethic worthy of Banks name. The first officially distributed release under Banks Brand Music was the single “Flawless” by Corey’s eldest son CJ on July 24, 2016, which was CJ’s 21st birthday (CJ also released a his debut mixtape “Est. 95” a year earlier) as free download. The second release under the new label was the single “California Throwback” by CJ and his younger brother Jayy Gawd. and then the mixtape “Controversy” by his second eldest son Jayy Gawd and Banks Brand Music affiliated artist, Anthony John. Corey has also multiple promotional singles by his daughter JaDaya Koray under the BBM imprint as well.
The Banks Brand Music™ moniker is “We’re not a label, we’re a legacy” and everything we are and do represents that. Welcome to the writing of our next chapter.
Listen to The Brand by Mr. CLB (Exclusive) Banks Brand Music
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