Ah, Azealia Banks. It’s been over a year since her first CMU mention, and what a year-plus. In varying ways. A teen alumnus of Manhattan’s LaGuardia arts school, Harlem-based Banks began acting the rap artiste in 2009. Her overnight infamy came via last year’s ’212′, a heathen hymn to NYC club culture and Banks’ own (bi)sexuality. To date, its YouTube views number almost 40 million.
Notwithstanding the automatic draw of its explicit lyrics, ’212′ was and is so popular because it sounds like a modern moment in time, its own time. Looking back, ’212′ appears to have been catalytic for New York’s new wave of self-styled ‘queer’ MCs, and so by default has paved the way for the likes of Zebra Katz, Mykki Blanco and one of 2013′s most pre-promoted MCs, Angel Haze.
Having signed to Universal in January, Banks’ post-’212′ CV is a technicolor reel of great releases, collaborations and Mermaid revels. Though, on the flip side of her ’1991′ EP, ‘Fantasea’ mixtape and other favourable moves, there was the flighty hire-and-fire fling with Lady Gaga’s management, festival cancellations, an ‘unauthorised sampling’ fracas and a much postponed LP. Azealia Banks is a character for sure, but that apparent brattishness is all part of her allure as an artist, and a quality that’s essential in the author of any one of her tracks.
The new year will, or so we’re assured, feature in its “first quarter” the much-pushed-back release of Banks’ studio-length debut ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’. Whether her ‘moment in time’ will still be relevant to the pop charts’ of 2013 (or was she just too 2012?) is something the world will have to wait a while longer to discern. But in the meantime, this is ‘Van Vogue’…
See all of CMU’s Artists Of The Year for 2012 here.