Azealia Banks is essentially the year 2012 embodied into one charismatic female with a love for all things Aquarian and a gorgeous mane of colorful hair. This year has probably been the craziest year for music yet. Music is steady becoming genre-less with categories of music clashing together that would never had even been a thought in someone’s mind a decade ago. Hip Hop has melded together with the high energy world of dance music, with artists like Nicki Minaj rapping over synth filled tracks with lead ups and breakdowns that used to be only reserved for raves.
Speaking of Nicki Minaj, 2012 is also the year of the female rapper. In a field where women often have to struggle to be accepted or to even reach a high plateau, female rappers have made It to the top and now sit on top of a throne. The Kreayshawns, Iggy Azaleas, and of course the Azealia Bankses of the world are taking over the industry. The issue of gender and sexuality doesn’t stop there. 2012 was also a milestone in the hip hop/ R&B world when multi talented singer/songwriter came out as a bisexual via an eloquently written letter on his Tumblr page. Alas, Azealia Banks had came out as a bi sexual way before Ocean with bi-curious lyrics in her breakout hit “212” such as “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evenin.’”
Azealia carries that excellent rawness into her mixtape Fantasea with new and exciting material that makes me feel like I did when I first heard “212”. The mixtape begins with “Out of Space”, which I was wary about because The Prodigy is my favorite band of all time, and I am protective of them, but Azealia Banks did it complete justice with her confrontational delivery over the classic rave track.
“Neptune” serves as an audible underwater mermaid gathering with a slow bubbly synths and Azealia’s smooth vocals battling with raps similar to her “212” flow. The track also features a hard hitting verse from British rapper, Shystie. It is hard to pick a favorite track on Fantasea, simply because every track has mind bending production that somehow fits perfectly with Azealia’s voice. Everything from the Diplo produced drum line track “Fuck Up the Fun” or the Drums of Death produced lo fi tune “Nathan.” Azealia Banks flow ability is exceptional in “Nathan” with an impressive flow change up that gets speedy then slows down.
When Azealia declared on her Tumblr that she would rather be viewed as a dance artist then a rapper, she must have had her track “Luxury” in mind, the sexy house tune features more of her sultry singing voice as well as a sexy “talk-rap” that could compete with some of the best underground warehouse tunes out there. Fantasea ends with the infectious trance-hop sounds of the extremely talented Araabmuzik. “Salute a bad bitch, you should” raps an arrogant Banks.
Banks represents a new generation of intelligent carelessness that has become evident in this IDGAF world of today, and I must say her mixtape Fantasea captures this new attitude with raw skill that makes me excited for what else this boisterous mermaid-esque raptress has in store for the future.
When Scissor Sisters announced their fourth studio album Magic Hour, fans rejoiced. When it was announced that they would be collaborating with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Calvin Harris, Azealia Banks and Diplo the anticipation grew to ultimate proportions. Finally the album dropped and the people are unfortunately left feeling unappeased.
The album opens up on a familiar note with “Baby Come Home” their signature disco sound coupled with a steady beat that can only be described as groovy. “Inevitable” starts off with Pharrell William’s melodic beat, complete with a hypnotizing keyboards and a hint of percussion, is a great pair with the Beegees-esque vocals of Scissor Sisters. The biggest surprise of the album was the fact that “Only the Horses”, was one of the most forgettable tracks considering that it was a Calvin Harris production. This collaboration had the opportunity to be epic, but it ended up just falling through the cracks.
Things start to pick up pace again during “Let’s Have a Kiki”, an underground vogueing anthem where someone tells a story about the misfortunes that they have had on their way to a party. The track “Shady Love” features new comer raptress, Azealia Banks. This track sounds all over the place, similar to Azealia’s breakout track “212”. Unlike “212”, the rapping, singing, and noise combination really didn’t mend together as effortlessly as the latter track did.
This album seems to be missing the intensity that Scissor Sisters are so known for. Rather than making you want to cover yourself in glitter and bust a move on the dance floor, most of the tracks just make you want to sway around while holding up a lighter. The emphasis on ballads in Magic Hour isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might be disappointing to some fans who were expecting some colorful dance tracks while still maintaining their vintage feel.
Electronic music is one of the most popular genres of music of our time. Almost every DJ will play some sort of electronic music in his or her’s set. Some good. Some bad, and sometimes absolutely amazing. Canada’s own Azari & III released their self titled record recently, and lets just say…the sound is so retro, its like they stepped into a time machine and went back to 80s.
Azari & III released something that can be only described as a blast from the past. Each track on the record is something you would find playing in clubs all over the world back in the 80s and early 90s. It’s not hard to really let go of everything inside you and dance your heart out.
The 11-track album is a stand out on its own. There is no single track that outshines the other. Each track offers its own odyssey into the night of clubbing. This is a perfect and fitting soundtrack to and from the city where you are dancing your tales off. The record makes you want to find a way to build a time machine yourself and travel to 1986 New York City. Big hair, bright clothes, 50 dollars, and a feeling of being free, this is how the record makes you feel.
The production is top notch. Nothing over done like some other recent releases from electronic artists. The collection of drums, keys, and vocals will have you dancing wherever you are. You can tell Azari & III are real dedicated to their craft. Their skills are proven to be well to par with the top artists of today.
Azari & III’s self-titled record is a masterpiece in itself. It doesn’t hide behind the boring, old, and cliché rules of music that we are use to today. It brings you back to a time where things were a lot different, and to a scene that was like no other. Its rare to find an artist that makes you feel the way these guys make you feel. If you are into great electronic music, beats to make you want to dance the night away, this is the record for you.