Azealia Banks, Strange Names | Concord Music Hall | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader
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Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks

Inez & Vinoodh

When: Fri., May 15, 6:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $25
Harlem rapper-singer Azealia Banks hit it big with the dance thump of her 2011 breakout, the giddy, sexually explicit, and shape-shifting “212.” In less than three minutes and 30 seconds, Banks transitions into the singular, magnetic pop force that many musicians dedicate their lives to becoming—and she parlayed that cred into a deal with Universal. Banks managed to piss away a lot of the good will and hype in the years following, thanks to a series of Twitter beefs with anyone who was down—hell, there’s a Wikipedia page titled “List of Azealia Banks controversies” that catalogs her many arguments. The entertainment made a lot of starving music-content-farmers’ jobs easier, but I don’t blame anyone who felt fatigued by Banks, even as she was being vocal about her own fatigue with her label. In November, a handful of months after breaking from Universal, she finally released her first studio full-length, Broke With Expensive Taste (Prospect Park/Caroline), which contains all the chic, fierce electro-cum-rap majesty that made Banks a phenom in the first place. The album operates like a late-night club mix: a distinct mood links all of the tracks and develops as the album progresses. Plus, there’s plenty of room for colorful flourishes—“Gimmie a Chance,” for example, melds bulbous bachata horns and percussion with a sample of art-rock group Enon. The results can be more interesting in theory than in practice, but Banks nails it with the breezy posthouse of “Soda” and the deconstructed grime of “Wallace.” —Leor Galil
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