Azealia Banks is a very good rapper. The fact that her flow is matched by a singing voice that doesn't need to be autotuned—thanks to musical theater training at the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the Fame school)—puts her in an even rarer category. Her breakout single "212"—that near-perfect song about confrontational cunnilingus—still remains an infectious earworm five years after its release, fueled by Banks's triumphant, bratty sass both on and off the track.
But putting her musical precision aside, we know a lot more about Azealia Banks now than we did in 2011. With the release of her debut album in 2014 (and confusing re-release in 2015), we know that, yes, Azealia Banks can follow up a transcendent single and deliver the album that we all want from a female MC who is as much from Harlem as Tumblr, however late; Broke With Expensive Taste teeters gleefully on the edge of genres, is infused with camp, but is squarely New York hip-hop. But we also know how Banks feels about Iggy Azalea, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, white gay men, witchcraft, Black Lives Matter, and the paper shoes of vegans. This complicates, if not revokes, her image as a Person We Can Like. Though Banks recently left Twitter (for now), her often unpopular and inconsistent online opinions have left some asking, "Has Azealia Banks Trolled Her Career To Death?"
When we went to talk with the 24-year-old at Foxgrove Studios, where she's currently recording, we came away with the impression that Banks probably wouldn't care about the answer to that question. She's constantly instigating her own deaths, and rebirths, anyway: She dropped out of high school and signed to XL Recordings when she was 17. Then she dropped XL, dabbled in stripping and semi-homelessness, and eventually signed with Interscope. Now she's left Interscope and is independently financing three music projects, all of which unfolded on a whim. In true Azealia Banks style, none have a release date or any other conventional coherence. (One of which, Slay Z, started as a compilation of Jay Z cover songs and is now just a mixtape, unrelated to Jay Z.)
Or in other words: However unlikeable or polarizing Banks may appear on the Internet, there's something to be said about a black, female rapper from Harlem who genuinely doesn't give a fuck—who embodies, in the words of the similarly contentious Kanye West, "that DMX feeling"—and it's not entirely negative.
In this episode of Broadly Meets, we sit down with Azealia Banks to talk—unconfined to a 140 word character limit—about her new music, why she courts controversy, and how to cast a cleansing spell with an egg.