Over-the-top raps from Azealia Banks
Paired with a high-energy, black-and-white video of a young rapper wearing a Mickey Mouse sweater and dancing, this song “212” exudes aggression and energy, but also joy and intense competitiveness. If there’s a song that you could call supercharged, this is it. The backing track for it is driving, rhythmic, and full of energy to say the least. Azealia Banks is straight from New York, and you can tell – she makes no excuse for her language, her forwardness, or her arrogant confidence and swagger.
This one’s a few years old now (from 2011) but I stumbled on it recently, and I’ve been listening pretty obsessively since. The music industry is competitive, and I imagine this track as a direct challenge to other rappers who want to be her. And it is effective… a rapper named Iggy Azalea just emerged this summer with an enormous hit called “Fancy,” which took our local pop radio station by storm and was played nearly non-stop in the beginning of summer 2014. No way the parallelism in their names is a mistake. Musicians draw upon each other, and build upon what is successful and popular, and avoid what isn’t. It could be anything, from your beats to your riffs to your very name… some young gun out there is always watching and waiting to co-opt what you do best for their own meteoric success story.
But this song is about the pride of the original. It’s a challenge, an all-in bet, a straight to your face and no-excuses-given challenge to affirm your personality, your individualty, and take on all comers. Azealia Banks could give two sh**s what her imitators think of her. Her lyrics are unabashedly offensive, boasting openly that her competitors don’t stand a chance. “They’ll forget your name soon,” she sings at one point, as the track builds and escalates behind her. It may offend a few more conservative listeners, but I don’t think Ms. Banks really cares.
In the world of creative pursuit, people steal your best stuff ALL THE TIME. And it takes the pride and confidence of an Azealia Banks to keep at it, regardless. Kudos, this track is DOPE.