It’s barely halfway through 2013 and Azealia Banks has already caused quite a stir. This follows numerous Twitter fights in which she had “beef” with countless artists and celebrities including that infamous feud with Perez Hilton (which I’m not going to get into here—that debate deserves a whole article to itself). Her victims include Iggy Azalea, A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora amongst many others, with her self-professed hate of Nicki Minaj and frequent delays to her debut album Broke With Expensive Taste adding to the mix (originally billed for a 2012 release, before being pushed back to February 12th 2013, before being pushed back once more to god knows when). Its subsequent singles are equally as elusive (Young Rapunxel was scheduled for release on March 26th, before finally being released on April 16th and ATM Jam was meant to drop before June but fans are still waiting to hear it). With this in mind, I pose a question for you: has Azealia Banks peaked too early in her career?
I ask this for a number of reasons. There’s no denying how good 212 was; it was a fantastic debut single which combined rap, hip hop and house. Its infectious beat played throughout clubs across the world for the majority of 2012 and it and its subsequent EP (titled 1991) garnered critical acclaim, and rightfully so, but 212 was released in December 2011, not to be followed up with more music until May 2012, almost six months later. This was problematic because Banks’ fans were craving more, desperate to hear her in-your-face lyrics slayed over pounding beats, but on the other hand it wasn’t because 212 was very hard to forget. Everyone knew what it was and who sang it.
Following the release of 1991 in May 2012, Banks released her first mixtape in July. Fantasea was also delayed, although this delay was only by a week, and it received favourable reviews as many critics stated that the eclectic range of songs perfectly displayed Banks’ multitude of personas. Banks created a persona for herself, following in the lines of Beyoncé (Sasha Fierce) and Lady Gaga (Jo Calderone), to keep her real self separate from her stage self and hence Yung Rapunxel was born. Which is fair enough if you are going to keep your real self hidden, but Banks’ many Twitter tirades render Rapunxel’s creation rather pointless.
Nevertheless, Fantasea was well received and its stand-out track has to be Esta Noche (if you haven’t already listened to this I urge you to). Fans went wild for Fantasea, but it wasn’t properly promoted. Esta Noche was intended to be released as a single from the mixtape and there is no refuting that it would have been another worldwide hit, but it was ultimately dropped following disputes between Banks and its producer Munchi. Banks toured to promote Fantasea and I saw her in October 2012 in Newcastle. Her set was fantastic and the whole room was bouncing. But Broke With Expensive Taste was supposed to have been released before this and I was hoping that she would premier some of the new songs. Ultimately the only song from her album to be played was 212, but the whole night was worth it just for that.
Now I love Azealia Banks’ music. I may not necessarily like her as a person (because of her spat with Perez Hilton and her subsequent use of homophobic language, despite the fact that she is openly bisexual herself) but her music is amazing. But I have a big problem with her. She is playing a similar trick that Lady Gaga played with Born This Way in that she is teasing and hyping up the album for months on end which becomes tiresome. Lady Gaga ultimately paid off by actually releasing the album when it was scheduled to be released, but Banks’ has suffered numerous delays, so much so that we do not know whether or not we can believe her when she gives us any information about the album.
Through Twitter she has revealed the names of around ten album tracks, but I doubt most of them will actually appear on the record. Broke With Expensive Taste is still slated for a 2013 release, but Banks herself has revealed that the album is only “80% complete” and it is now halfway through the year. Either the album will be released with next to no promotion (which would be foolish) or it will be heavily promoted and released in early 2014. Either way Banks is going to annoy her fans even more. Yung Rapunxel performed terribly in the charts. It’s not radio-friendly but nor is 212 (which peaked at number 12). Neither was it promoted at all, which is why nobody even knows that it exists apart from her die-hard fans. This shows that Broke With Expensive Taste needs to be promoted heavily otherwise it is going to massively flop.
So has Azealia Banks already peaked? It could be said that she peaked with her debut single as nothing she has released since has managed to successfully follow it up, but I believe she can be redeemed. If Broke With Expensive Taste is promoted correctly and charts reasonably then she could continue. But she needs to redeem herself. The fans need concrete information about the album and a release date needs to be revealed soon, along with some new music, otherwise her fans are going to start looking elsewhere.