I will admit that I was late to hop on the Azealia Banks hype train, but there was no going back once I heard her breakout single from last year, “212.” The infectious yet nongeneric beat, her slick and aggressive delivery, and most importantly, the blunt, guiltily quotable lyrics made her one to watch – a female rapper who might actually have some substance. Now, I can’t deny that none of her songs so far has quite reached the heights of “212,” but it is far from her only good song. If anything, it’s nice that she got her big memorable track out of the way and can just have fun exploring new ideas; just look to her mermaid-obsessed Fantasea mixtape, which has everything from the typical rap vaunt “Jumanji,” with its earworm of a chorus “Rude bitch all day, uptown Broadway,” to drag-ball anthem “Fierce,” which quotes the documentary Paris is Burning.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about her is her approach to femininity and sexuality in rap. Nicki Minaj may have her fans idolizing the “Barbie” image anew, but Azealia Banks was “on that Barbie shit” since 2009. And sure Nicki may love to brag about how she has “the fattest pussy in the whole world” (seriously, these are real lyrics from her “Freaky Gurl” cover), she has nothing on Azealia banks when it comes to how much she talks about cunnilingus. In spite of her huge gay fanbase, Nicki has written little about her self-proclaimed bisexuality, while the subjects of desire in Azealia’s songs switch on a whim. She takes Disney mermaids, belles-at-balls, and bambis only to erase any trace of those demure childhood characters and replace them with the type of women Beyonce must have been talking about who “run the world.” I’ll be, and you should be too, eagerly waiting for her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, to drop, but this is one Barbie with a lot of style already.