Azealia Banks 212
November 26, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

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

Her cover of Interpol - Slow Hands

Other links

Bio on her website
Lyrics 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.

An addendum:

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.
posted by phoque (15 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
That's Jacques Greene and Lunice that's she's rapping at/dancing with in the 212 video.
posted by sparkletone at 8:49 PM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Thanks Sparkletone, I thought it was Harry Potter.
posted by Catblack at 9:53 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hadn't heard of her, and I am really liking this video and some of her related's. Thanks for posting!

The track Chill$ in the related links reminds me a lot of Childish Gambino's mixtapes, with the rapping over indie poprock. I love his stuff, so that is a win for me.
posted by utsutsu at 10:11 PM on November 26, 2011

will be on my singles of the year list, i love this profoundly.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:12 PM on November 26, 2011

I love it. Thanks for posting this!
posted by spiderskull at 11:47 PM on November 26, 2011

Metafilter: delivered as if it were already Impact text on an image macro.
posted by alby at 2:48 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

What PinkMoose said. Posts like this are why I still hang out here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:40 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

What PeterMcDermott said!
posted by Poppa Bear at 5:23 AM on November 27, 2011

That, old son, is a rough tune.
posted by Jofus at 5:35 AM on November 27, 2011

everyone knoww 347 is hood now. 212 is how my lawyer's number starts.
posted by fuq at 6:41 AM on November 27, 2011

718 reprazent
posted by jonmc at 8:58 AM on November 27, 2011

Enh, this rap stuff, just a fad.
posted by eustatic at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2011

I'm a little disappointed at how many people are in here talking about something other than what a fire-ass jam this is
posted by valrus at 3:03 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Man, Jacques Greene is killing it. I can't wait to hear what they come up with together.
posted by sixacross at 11:39 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a little disappointed at how many people are in here talking about something other than what a fire-ass jam this is.

Threadshitting has always been acceptable on the hip hop threads. Normally followed by 'I like all kinds of music except blah blah blah...'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:15 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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