“I have a black cat. His name is Lucifer. But I don’t have an apartment at the moment, so my ex-boyfriend is still looking after my cat. Which is really ironic, my ex-boyfriend still has my pussy.”
World, meet Azealia Banks, the 19-year-old rapper from Harlem who’s about to tear music a new clunge. If you’ve not seen her debut video ‘212’ yet, you’re missing out on Azealia spitting five different choruses of pure filth over some messed-up electro while doing the conga. Half Cher from Clueless, half Lil’ Kim on the blob, she swills lines like “I’mma ruin you cunt” round her butter-wouldn’t-melt mouth.
The track felt like it came out of nowhere, a tapered bullet fired at the Sheeran-Cotton-Birdy axis of beige. The day it went viral, Estelle, Lily Allen and Alexa Chung all tweeted their support. Radio 1 rushed it to the top of the radio edit pile, where they had to make over 40 changes before it could be aired.
In fact, ‘212’ is both the product and subject of untold wrangling. At the start of the year Azealia fell out with ex-label XL (who all look “fucking stupid right now, cause y’all don’t have Azealia Banks on your roster”). She thought about giving up but instead channelled her anger and frustration into writing the lyrics.
Now she’s in a legal battle with Lazy Jay who has had the song removed from YouTube because it samples his track ‘Float My Boat’. “I guess it makes it a bit more sexy,” says Azealia. “People are talking about this song, oh shit we can’t even find it. It’s almost contraband.”
And why are people talking about it? Because, for once, the hottest record in the world doesn’t come courtesy of some shy bedroom producer from Suffolk or a millionaire Kabbalah rocker from Los Angeles. Instead it comes direct from a teenage girl who doesn’t give a fuck about who she offends or how things are supposed to be done. When Eminem or Alex Turner broke there was a similar disregard for everything that went before. Look, we’re just going to say it: Azealia Banks is cool.
Need To Know:
For Fans Of: Nicki Minaj, swearing
Buy It: Nothing yet, but she’s working on a mixtape
See It Live: There’s a London show at Hoxton Bat & Kitchen on November 6
Believe It Or Not: Azealia knows it’s going right if she starts sweating: “Once my underarms are soaked and my make-up is running I’m like, ‘Oh shit, I got it!'”
This article originally appeared in the October 29th issue of NME