In September, a young Harlem rapper by the name of Azealia Banks appeared from seemingly nowhere in order to drop “212“, which just so happened to be one of the most exciting hip hop records of the year (and one of the rare numbers to give Lana Del Rey‘s “Video Games” a run for its money when it came to topping critics’ “Songs of 2011” lists). The dizzying electronica-rap track was a thrilling three-for-one – unpredictably structured with a foul-mouthed Banks seamlessly darting between different vocal characters faster than you can say “Nicki Minaj“.
Having attended the same Manhattan theater school as the “Super Bass” star (an education which unquestionably aided both women’s penchant for aural animation), the comparisons which flooded the blogosphere were unsurprising, to say the least. However, to label Banks “Minaj II” is a frustratingly flippant move. Even Azealia addresses these comparisons in “212,” taking sniper digs at Nik’s career:
“You got a lot, but you just waste all yourself/They’ll forget your name soon (name soon)/And won’t nobody be to blame but yourself.”
What ultimately sets Banks apart from Minaj is her “f**k you” attitude. Sure, Minaj may have started out with an equal amount of vivacity, but then she abandoned it all to become a chart-topping Harajuku Barbie. Banks ain’t gonna pull that sell-out move anytime soon. The Harlem dynasty was already spunky enough to ditch a potentially superstar making deal with XL Records because she was unhappy with the direction they were taking her music. Since then Banks has developed a refreshingly independent philosophy towards her career (“walkover” is not a word in her dictionary), dropping Interpol covers, jams tackling interracial dating and Scissor Sister collabs along her merry way.
Banks is currently recording with producer, Paul Epworth, the British svengali who manned the buttons for the likes of Adele‘s 21 and Cee Lo Green‘s The Lady Killer. Word on the street is a debut album will drop later this year, so be prepared, as to quote Miss Banks herself – “What you gon’ do when I appear?!”