Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pitstop: Azealia Banks

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For me, writing about anything vaguely resembling hip-hop is as common as a Haley's Comet sighting but every once in awhile I hear something so undeniably good that I feel like I have to spread it despite my normal hip hop ambivalence. May I present Miss Azealia Banks.

Azealia Banks might very be the most unlikely of hip-hop sirens - a musical theatre actress, it took a bout of depression and a metaphorical trip to rock bottom to push her into rapping and singing and now she does it with an almost overwhelming intensity. When I first heard her song "212", it wasn't until the middle eight when I was really hooked; when you really got a load of her impressive pipes. And yet that's a staple of R&B: girls with impressive vocal chops. What sets Azealia Banks apart from the scores of young ladies making their rounds in the more mainstream circles? Well, Banks' songs are deeply rooted in reality. There's no hyping oneself up that's common in rap songs - talking about how great you are or how rich or hard you are. No, Azealia Banks tackles some more realistic topics - namely sex. Like the "212"'s rapid-fire delivery of the most non-PG materials you might ever encounter. It could be shocking, if it wasn't so charming. She's been compared to Nicki Minaj, mostly due to her affinity to both rap and sing, but really Banks' mouth is much more reminiscent of female rappers like Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. But as much as you try to compare Banks she's undoubtedly unique not solely defined by her foul mouth lyrics or her sparse beats but with an impossibly affable charm. Surprisingly considering her strong-willed nature is at the forefront of her lyrics which occasionally come off more as demands, threats, and provocations. And yet that's what keeps me coming back for me - despite an intimidating amount of presence for a 20 year old, her songs are fun in addition to being good.

Her follow ups to "212" show that Banks' discovery is no fluke, she's ready to keep putting out great tracks that leave you wanting more. And with Banks currently in London readying her debut record, it certainly won't be long. Especially if your lucky enough to be European - she's got a slew of tour dates lined up. So until the debut drops, I'm just going to keep repeating tracks like "Liquorice" and "NeedSumLuv" until my ears fall off.

   NEEDSUMLUV (SXLND) by Azealia Banks

 212 ft. Lazy Jay by Azealia Banks 

 LIQUORICE by Azealia Banks

(via Listen Before You Buy)

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