Azealia Banks Review
Since the 2011 explosion of smutty ditty ’212′ – which got to number 12 in the UK charts and won a glowing endorsement from Samantha Cameron despite lyrics including “I guess that cunt gettin’ eaten” and “I’m a rude bitch, nigga,” – Azealia Banks has been riding high on its success.
She had a shaky start to releasing, with demos flying around for years, but for all her label-baiting, rude girl Harlem credentials, Azealia Banks The Brand is now a polished one. Her collaborations read like a Who’s Who of influential producers, including Machinedrum, Diplo, Hudson Mohawke and Araabmuzik. By rights, she should be en route to superstardom. Yet with next album ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ having its release date pushed back to February, hype fading from ’212′, and her pounding the promo trail hard already, is there a hint of worry in the Banks camp?
Well, it sold out, but mysteriously, Concorde wasn’t full. Doors open at seven and she eventually makes it onstage after ten, to hungry crowds bored of the support acts. Perhaps it was the sound, or that it was a Wednesday evening, or perhaps repeatedly shouting “bitch” just doesn’t get Brighton crowds going, but with the exception of upbeat mixologist DJ Cosmo, the support acts panned.
To screams of encouragement and The Prodigy’s ‘Out Of Space,’ Banks bounds onto the stage. Resplendent with bum-length green hair and a light-up crop top, her energy is infallible. Reverb-heavy ‘Fierce’ whips up the crowd but it’s difficult to make out her gun-fire lyrics, ‘Jumanji’ live is a bass-driven anthem with a simple beat that showcases her vocal styles beautifully. The visuals are well-executed and carefully designed to match each song: a lot of work has gone into making the shows smooth.
She’s a modern pop phenomenon complementing wet-lipped sexuality with a cheeky grin and filthy lyrics with a woolly jumper; an undisputed babe who appeals to females with her empowered attitude. The audience is smattered with couples but mostly comprised of arm-waving females, hugging each other, shouting, and waving cans of beer. Finishing with ’212′ provokes such a crowd reaction that it’s clear many people in the audience only know this song, and I’m not sure they’ll have been won over by the others.
Whilst Azealia Banks is a talented rapper with some great songs and a lot of confidence, she just doesn’t have many lyrically catchy songs. She’s at a crossroads between critical acclaim and commercial success and it’d be a big challenge to combine her raw lyrics and fuck-’em-all attitude with putting out records that will be bought by the masses. She’ll either have to pander to pop at the behest of the big labels, or stick to her guns, and it’s hard to know which path she’ll take.
Concorde2, Wednesday 10th October 2012
Words by Jessica Marshall McHattie
Photos by Mike Burnell at iso400.com