Azealia Banks 212
November 26, 2011 8:29 PM Subscribe
posted by phoque (15 comments total)
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Azealia Banks (a 20-year-old lyricist from Harlem, NYC) 212
Ft. Lazy Jay (NSFW, explicit lyrics ... implicit too)
Legal issue with Lazy Jay over the sampling of his Float My Boat track is resolved and the video is back.
Example of another style
of Interpol - Slow Hands
on her website
with some explanation.
A dissection of the song
Michelle Myers: In her second and third verses, Banks crafts much of her lyrics out of the “oo” and “uhh” vowel sounds found in native Manhattan’s realest area code. What ensues is a relentless stream of assonance: “kool-aid dude,” “blue bayou,” “doo-rag too, son,” “the new one too, huh,” “you know you were too once.” And like any good drama student, she puts those vowels to work, stretching them, pulling on them, playing in them. Of course, it’s all a build up to that delightfully nasty “imma ruin you, cunt” punchline, which Banks delivers as if it were already Impact text on an image macro. Banks’ lyrical skill wouldn’t matter much if she weren’t also positively oozing with personality. Luckily, she spits with the kind of mirthful insolence that I imagine music-crit bros hear in Tyler, the Creator. Except she’s way better at rapping.
Obviously Azealia Banks is not the first or the best rapper to use assonance and internal vowel rhyme this way. I hope my blurb doesn’t make it seem like I’ve never heard rapping before. I’m fully aware that most ‘good’ (god whatever that means amirite) rappers play with phonemes, both vowel and consonant, in a similar manner. But Azealia’s use of assonance struck me for two reasons. First, she sustains a very high level of internal rhyme based on the same few sounds (say “212” and then say “ruin you cunt”) for two whole verses. Which is impressive although I’m not interested much in ‘impressive’ rapping. I own a Twista album. I got it. But all the assonance, especially when combined with Azealia’s bitchy flow (the verses are, fundamentally, just a stream of rudely-posed questions), simply makes the rapping fun to listen to regardless of the actual substance of what she’s saying. A lot of rappers just don’t get this shit. I’m not a hip-hop geek and I know some people will disagree with me on this one, but, in my opinion, you can rap about the dumbest, most useless shit ever as long as you sound hot on the track. The other effect of the the assonant lyrics, is that Azealia ends up holding her mouth in a “oo” position a lot, which, in the snobby drawl she affects sounds more like an “eww.” Azealia puts that “eww” sound to work. I know I said that in my original blurb, but I don’t really know how else to explain it. It’s a concept I learned doing Shakespeare shows—you give respect to the sounds, let them resonant through your body, and they will work for you, they will help you be truthful in your circumstances. The sounds are honest. So Azealia Banks filters the tone of the rapping through the actual sounds she’s rapping. Without ever needing to say it or even perform it, she reads as disgusted, bored, and condescending. She raps like a classically trained actor (and about oral sex and talkin shit at that!), and I mean that in a good way.