Sunday, July 14, 2013

W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. Post 9: Azealia Banks

This is a series dedicated to women who despite success in the U.S. Music Industry, have est. a very complicated image for themselves.

Round 9 of this series goes to Harlem, NY "witch-hop" rapper/singer sensation and lightning rod of controversy, Azealia Banks. This post is a little hard for me to deeply analyze because her debut LP effort, Broke With Expensive Taste, has yet to be released.

Then after watching the "Liquorice" music video on YouTube again I decided to at least measure her image thus far through her EP, 1991, along with everything she's known for through my frame of reference.
Azealia's place in the world fits in with a lot of artists [let alone rappers]. A shitty childhood with an interest in music that would later turn into a career path.

Cut past her failed deal with XL Recordings to her initial breakout phase of c. early 2012. Her EP, 1991, and its lead single "212" ft. Lazy Jay were met with critical acclaim and YouTube viral status respectively. The main reason, Banks' song was met with such acclaim on YouTube are [for better or worse] these lines with text shown in the music video for the song...




(It isn't bad of me to type the "C" word out as I realize for 2 reasons...if I'm quoting these lines from "212" or making reference to Ann Coulter.)

The song initially didn't capture me into Banks' world. It actually took the EP title track the day it was being streamed on certain sites. "1991" although not released as a single, has always been my favorite single from her to date. The video for this song is essentially an nostalgia orgasm for 90s House Music buffs as every image and visage Banks is in pays tribute to some 90s music videos. The song "Van Vogue" did get a music video and as far as I know got YouTube circulation mainly through a channel I swear is called Hunger Games TV [Please correct me if I'm wrong with the YouTube channel name].

However, controversy bit #1 musically came with the 2nd song released from the EP, "Liquorice". The controversy didn't stem from her Ol' Glory nails and other Ol' Glory accessories; not even her gunfight against herself; not even her surrounded by a ring of fire drew controversy. What pissed some people off was the accusation that she plagiarized lines from talentless giant ass haver Nicki Minaj's mixtape song "Kill Da DJ" [The part from 2:17 to 2:32 or so as the music video plays out].
Even if she did have that as an interpolation of the song [according to her Wikipedia page RE: "Liquorice"] it falls under the "Takeover Principle" [reference to the song "Takeover" by Jay-Z AKA the famed takedown of Nas when they had beef over each other for existing (Which any true rap fan will tell you that if its over songs, the beef is just a way for both to sell records)...

"You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song."

Meaning that Azealia made it FAAAAAAAAR better than Nicki. (Cue the "No Shit, Sherlock" sign)

1991 set the way for the mixtape Fantasea, and like its predecessor Fantasea was met with critical acclaim. The songs known off of the mixtape [to my knowledge] weren't released for mass radio consumption. Through means of online outlets like YouTube and SoundCloud, the songs did help Banks' claim that she was no fluke off of "212". "Jumanji" at the time of its online circulation didn't totally get my attention but it took recent footage of her performing the song at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival for me to understand how much this song really kicks ass (In fact...her Glastonbury performance will be mentioned again later. So fucking pay attention to everything else!)

"Fierce" has special qualities; most notably when viewing the Franklin Fuentes mix [AZEALIA BANKS feat. FRANKLIN FUENTES 'FIERCE' vs. Paris Is Burning] as it features apropos tribute to the legendary queens of Paris Is Burning (Which if you must know is one of the most critically acclaimed documentaries ever made and considered the LGBT equivalent of Citizen Kane). "Luxury" and "Atlantis" would be lucky enough to have full fledged music videos.
"Luxury" was posted to her official [non-VEVO] YouTube channel, AzealiaBanks, on September 27, 2012. The video was directed by Clarence Fuller and showed off her singing side along with her rap skills. Fashion wise this marked the 2nd time a black hat had made an appearance in one of her videos [the other being for "Liquorice"].

"Atlantis" brought about needless controversy through its video, directed by Fafi. The video made bigger waves than it ever anticipated when uploaded on November 11, 2012. Around the time Rihanna's performance of "Diamonds" on SNL was being reviewed, the performance video and Banks' "Atlantis" were the subject of some unneeded criticism of "artistic plagiarism". In a BuzzFeed article by Matthew Perpetua, he chronicles the bitching and moaning of web artists of "Seapunk". "Seapunk" is apparently a noun of added sea creature effect for a music video; it works with a green screen and aforementioned visuals.
To be clear, most of the hate was directed to Rihanna as JeromeLOL fans (Believe me when I say I can't make shit that ridiculous up on the spot) got all pissed as their stupid outlet of "creativity" was being the victim of "swagger jacking"*
*"Swagger Jacking" ; n.- The supposing of a person or group taking something most likely not copyrighted by an accuser and reveling in some level of success from said noun the accuser is claiming they "stole" (AKA falling victim to the Takeover Principal mentioned earlier.) I say to these people what I said about Bey's critics of "Countdown" and jaded fuckwads claiming Gaga is a Madonna knockoff...shut the fuck up! Be glad someone is giving some type of validity to the stupid shit you like. Yes, that sounds really mean, but leave Gaga, BeyoncĂ©, Rihanna and Azealia alone *Ok, I'm done bitching about that for now*

Cut to the current era of her yet to be released debut LP, Broke With Expensive Taste. Kicking off the era was a cover of "Barely Legal" by The Strokes, a SoundCloud post made in early March of this year. This is the first song by Banks to not have any rapping on it as it is all singing. O_O The impact of the song has kind of a personal connection.
One day out walking to the mall, I stop in the Apple store and decide to look up the song again for enjoyment. After trying to calibrate the volume so that I can listen w/o disturbing everyone else, an employee approaches me and wonders about the song. I explain all about Azealia and he seems intrigued; he then whips out his phone and using some Shazam type tracking device discovers that the cover is even Shazam recognizable; he posts his find to Facebook and thanks me for the find (You see, internet people and actual people? THIS is how you shamelessly pimp music).
As of now, the public can't figure out if the cover is going to be on BWET.

The next song of the era/confirmed single/lead single, "Yung Rapunxel" was posted to SoundCloud before being released with its music video. The difference now being is that it was taken down off of SoundCloud and its video is found under her VEVO channel AzealiaBanksVEVO *Belated Fun fact: VEVO managed to misspell her first name when "Liquorice" was released and all members of the "Kunt Brigade" {her fans; one of them being a Twitter follower of mine, @WotAustin who's lucky enough to be followed by Azealia herself...and got nicknamed "Cinnamon Spring" by the budding legend herself} were pissed. The error had been corrected within the week or so but robbed "Liquorice" of about 2 million + views* "YR" is her angriest song to date and it totally works for her hardcore aura.
"YR" is her freakiest video to date and I loved every goddamn second of it; all that can be said is this...she breaks a champagne bottle over a police officer's head. That to me is art : P

The second most recently released confirmed song from BWET is "ATM Jam". Produced by Pharrell (Who give or take the "Blurred Lines" controversy alongside success with his Daft Punk collaboration "Get Lucky" is having a goddamn awesome year) the song is one of her most dance friendly efforts to date and the beat is more hardcore than good pornography [you better quote me on that].

Most recently, Azealia just completed a gig at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival performing the songs below [All time points are from the YouTube version of it on the YouTube channel RIKY] while serving "Harlem Rapper/Singer Reptar Realness".

Out of Space / Neptune (00:07)
Atlantis (02:11)
F**k Up The Fun (04:35)
Van Vogue (06:50)
Fierce (09:53)
No Problems (12:08)
Cosmo Scratch (14:50)
Bambi (16:18)
1991 (18:48)
Jumanji (21:41)
Harlem Shake (24:16)
Bad Bitches Do It (27:56)
Luxury (31:20)
Liquorice (34:12)
Esta Noche (37:12)
ATM Jam Tease (40:50)
212 (42:56)
Yung Rapunxel (46:53)

The Guardian (a UK publication) gave the performance a 4 out of 5.

As to what makes Azealia Banks one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I.? Apart from being accused of being illuminati trash like at least half of the artists I've covered or so, the following is taken from her Wikipedia page under "Controversies"...

"On January 4, 2013, Banks engaged in a feud on Twitter with blogger Perez Hilton. The feud – initially between Banks and fellow rapper Angel Haze – escalated in nature after Hilton sided with the latter, who had just previously referred to Banks as a "charcoal skinned bitch."[63] This support for Haze resulted in Banks to begin feuding with Hilton, with one tweet by Banks reading, "what a messy faggot you are." The tweet – among other tweets to Hilton in a similar tone – was met with an immediate backlash, after which Banks wrote "A faggot is not a homosexual male. A faggot is any male who acts like a female. There's a BIG difference." Banks apologized shortly after to those who were offended by her post, excluding Hilton.[64] Banks' comments triggered a statement from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) that read "Regardless of her intent or her personal definition, what matters is the meaning given to that word by those who hear it, and the damage it causes when they do."[65] Banks condemned GLAAD's statement and said the organization was "fucking complete bullshit." She compared the public's reaction to usage of the word "nigger" in hip-hop music against usage of "faggot" and said, "Why are all these other things like murder and sex and violence and all these other things accepted, but as soon as I call one gay white man a faggot, his feelings are more important..."[66] Banks noted her own bisexuality, stating "I knew what I meant when I used that word".[65]

The following month, Banks was involved in a feud with producers Baauer and Diplo after Banks posted a remix of Baauer's song "Harlem Shake." The remix, featuring Banks' vocals, was removed at Baauer's request,[67] although she posted emails sent by Baauer stating that he liked her version of the song.[68] Baauer responded that he didn't like Banks' vocals and previously requested her not to post the remix.[69] Banks reposted her remix and denied Baauer's claims, saying she was informed Baauer did not wish to officially release Banks' version because he wished to feature Juicy J instead.[70] After the feud, which included a tweet directed toward Baauer where Banks stated "may you drown in faggotry," LGBT publication The Advocate informed its readers that Banks' music sales had increased since her previous feud with Hilton.[71]

Banks has also taken part in feuds with fellow musicians T.I., The Stone Roses, Iggy Azalea, Kreayshawn, ASAP Rocky, Rita Ora, Shystie, Jim Jones,[72][73][74] Lil' Kim, Nicki Minaj, Funkmaster Flex, Lily Allen, and Dominique Young Unique, past managers such as Troy Carter and Dave Holmes, and novelist Amanda Brunker.[75]"

(She's already a goddamn legend in my book if her shit-list is this long with NO debut LP released as of yet.)

Bitch loves controversy, but this is what gets me about her "f****t" controversy. It started out as a beef between her and some nobody named Angel Haze (Apparently she's a rapper from Detroit) over Haze trying to claim some NYC credit; this upset Banks and she felt the need to call her out as her Detroit roots don't make her a true blue New Yorker. Gossipy bitch, Perez Hilton, sided with Haze and Banks stood up for herself. However, even I thought she shouldn't have called him that word. Yet as she was being raked over the coals for using the word...

1. Perez used the word against of the Black Eyed Peas after a scuffle in Toronto, Canada. is straight and Perez fucked up royally. Even if he didn't deserve getting punched out for that, he lost all rights scolding others for using that word because he used it against a straight man.

2. Porn star/NewNowNext sexpert/Writer Conner Habib and I got into this brief exchange when he was scolding Azealia...

Me: "@ConnerHabib you better be vilifying Perez Hilton too. He had NO place to scold her on using the word. #BrokenRecord #Whatever

Him: "@MrSwearword faggots can say faggots all they want but I'm not a fan of bullying on either end."

By then I had been in brief scuffles with another Twitter user, @futurescoundrel. Our scuffle was actually before the exchange with Conner. *Remember, I name names on this blog*.

That aside, Banks early on had been compared to Nicki Minaj. That upset me because Nicki is a god-awful excuse for a rapper let alone a female rapper. Also, let it be known Minaj lied about her being bisexual. Azealia never lied about her being bisexual and she got raked over the coals for the Perez thing even though he's a reviled gay man in the gay community!
She's also been read to filth needless times on the E! show Fashion Police, as her Coachella stage outfit was named worst of the week as opposed to former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, whose look was actually worse than Banks' outfit was [the only reason Banks was named worst of the week was because Thornton had the balls (And Domino's Pizza areolas O_O) to be there with slightly better hair and in the same outfit]. Also, her look at the Life Ball in Vienna was read to filth even though...IT'S A FUCKING STAGE OUTFIT. I swear that show has pissed me off more than I fully realize.

So all in all, it's a mix of bravado, profanity and her existence that makes Azealia one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. I can't wait until Broke With Expensive Taste is either released or delayed again. Either way, still a fan.

Next up; her "Goodies" kind of went stale on one bad Fantasy Ride.

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