With her seemingly endless chain of Twitter feuds, it’s relatively easy to forget that Azealia Banks makes music. Not to mention, she makes damn good music. In my estimation, she’s one of the most intriguing artists in the game right now, refusing to fit any mold. It’s hard to call her a “rap artist,” or a “dance artist,” or a “hip hop artist” because she just kind of does her thing and will openly let you know how many effs she does not give. Her villainous characteristics are part refreshing, part predictable, but mostly just distracting from a non-music standpoint. She was ballsy right from the get go… let’s just say the clean version of her debut single “212” is closer to an instrumental with all of the profanity removed… but the one thing that seemingly always wins out is how well-crafted her songs are. Her flow is flawlessly natural, her charisma is champion, and her words are sassy, confrontational, and usually just down right awesome. Nonetheless, Ms. Banks has not really released a whole lot of music. Her debut EP 1991 is incredible from start to finish, but it’s only 4 tracks, and her follow-up mix-tape Fantasea, while exciting and varied, does little more than whet our appetites for her first full-lengther. Broke With Expensive Taste, her upcoming debut album, has seemingly been in the pipes forever with no release in sight, but Azealia has finally quenched our thirsts with its first single, “Yung Repunxel.” The verdict really comes down to one simple question: does it live up to the hype?
The track itself is one hell of a whirlwind. Granted, I wouldn’t expect any less from her, but its unapologetic audacity rips through immediately as “Danger” comes booming through the intro; you instantly know you’re in for a ride. From there on out, “Yung Rapunxel” doesn’t break for anyone with wild beats, possessed vocals, and a pleasantly impossible-to-follow structure, but in many ways, the track feels like home. Oddly enough, though, one of the song’s brightest moments is the “cool down” stuck right in the middle where she (if she’s actually serious) hypocritically announces she’s “tired of all this drama.” What made songs like “212” and “Liquorice” so endearing was not their catchiness and danceability, it was their charismatic, “underground” fearlessness. “Yung Rapunxel” plays into that brilliantly, especially the literally screamed, barely understandable chorus, except now she doesn’t sound like a newcomer finding her way. She sounds like someone who’s earned her stripes… but honestly, she really hasn’t. Again, her debut LP has yet to hit the shelves, but it takes some serious balls to present yourself this way and expect results. Lucky for Ms.Banks, she’s going to see them with this track. Not in the “#1 single” kind of way, but the “you’re officially impossible to ignore” kind of way. “Yung Rapunxel” is the kind of song that isn’t going to fit any commercial sort of mold, and despite not sounding like it’s breaking new ground, there’s a good chance that it’ll be looked back upon more fondly years from now than it ever will be today. In the meantime, have a few drinks, put up your middle finger, and dance shamelessly; it’ll be worth it. So, yes, the song absolutely lives up to the A.B. hype. For all of the reasons Azealia Banks was worth listening to in the first place, she’s still worth listening to, but now, there’s such an audible fight in her, and it’s beyond empowering. If she really knows what she’s doing, this is just the tip of the iceberg.