Azealia Banks - 'Jumanji'

Azealia has overcome her 'difficult second single' problems

Joey Maloney/NME
Photo: Joey Maloney/NME
Updating the ‘difficult second album’ prospect for the blog generation, Harlem rapper Azealia Banks has found herself facing the problems of the difficult second single. With breakout track ‘212’ becoming hip-hop’s answer to ‘Video Games’, it’s with overly judgmental cynicism that most people will approach ‘Jumanji’, but thankfully there are few Saturday Night Live-style clangers to be found on this one. Floating in on the ethereal twinkles of a harp (yep, we didn’t expect that one either…) before dropping in some playfully wonky, MIA-style backing beats and even calypso drums, ‘Jumanji’ is as brattily, brilliantly fun as you’d hope. Azealia’s throaty husk and spat out lyricisms still sound uncompromising, but with Banks clearly prioritizing sound over sense (“That can and can and continue/Your anti-nanas and cameras” – anyone?) the general atmosphere still rings out with light-hearted exuberance. There are nods to the confrontational content of ‘212’ in ‘Jumanji’s “designer vagina Gucci” and its central call to “Rule bitch, all day, Uptown Broadway” but, in general, the first cut from the rapper’s forthcoming mixtape ‘Fantastic’ is a slightly more crowd-friendly affair. After her first forays into success it will be interesting to see whether Azealia continues down the commercial path, but with Minaj’s recent offerings providing few thrills, there’s still a lot here to be hopeful about.

Sarah Pope

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