In a world where Nicki Minaj is so desperately trying to be Lil’ Kim, comparing Harlem’s Azealia Banks to a young Missy Elliot is all too easy, but quite forgivable. Like Kim, Minaj hides behinds wigs’n’tits and bombast; like Missy, Banks lets her fast tongue sell the hype. She keeps saying cunt, like Kim would, but with one DJ (Cosmo) and one costume change – from a blue satin oriental dress to an identical red one – Banks feels infinitely more real than her Young Money counterpart and hip hop peers.
It’s not to say that she’s not having fun with her rude raps (she enters to the Prodigy’s ‘Outta Space’ and Basement Jaxx’s ‘Romeo’, balloons fall from the ceiling for ‘212’, free candy floss is given out on arrival, hand held confetti cannons are fired three times), and, expletives aside, the recurring Rhianna synths make this street rap more ready for mainstream acceptance than you might think. She can sing too – like, really sing, wailing an a cappella rendition of ‘Valerie’ (horrible song choice but piped out like Aretha) and giving anti-autotune garage vocals to ‘Liquorice’ between its Salt’n’Peppa-ish brat chat. Azealia Banks deserves to be considered the most exciting rapper around.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 36 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2012