From her official career start in 2008 even unto today, is Azealia Banks, who originally hails from New York City where she was born and raised. After her father passed away due to pancreatic cancer when she was still just a toddler, she and her mother and two siblings moved to Harlem. Banks admitted in interviews after her mother became a widow, she became verbally and physically abusive against all three of her daughters. Banks, the youngest of the three sisters, moved out at age fourteen to stay with one of her older sisters just so she could get away from her mother’s toxic behavior.
On Her Own
Instead of allowing the abusive environment she grew up in get the best of her, Azealia Banks fully engaged in her interest in singing, dancing, and acting. When she turned sixteen, she starred in her first musical theatre production “City of Angels.” This would be where the official road to stardom would begin for the young Banks. It wasn’t easy at first, as her attempts to embark on acting weren’t as successful as she hoped. Instead of letting that get to her, she shifted her focus to embark on a singing career instead. Instead of finishing high school, Banks pursued her music, opting for the genre of R&B as her niche.
In 2008 as Miss Bank$, Azealia Banks recorded a couple of songs that would soon have her signed with XL Recordings. Due to creative differences, Banks not only leaves the company but the persona of Miss Bank$ as well. Through a YouTube channel, while residing in Montreal, Quebec, Canada as Azealia Banks, she recorded and released a few demo tracks before moving back to New York. She had a tough time making ends meet but still managed to record and release music from her own website. In 2011, Banks offered the song “212” as a free download, which came from her first EP, “1991.” Banks received her first taste of success, albeit a moderate one when her recordings realized chart success in nations such as Ireland, the UK, and the Netherlands. With the Australia Recording Industry Association, the EP “1991” has sold enough copies to achieve Gold Certification.
Making It Big
As a rapper, Azealia Banks has done well enough for herself where making ends meet isn’t an issue anymore. So far, Banks has recorded and released a studio album, two EPs, three mixed tapes, and nineteen singles. She has also been a featured artist, recording with a number of artists such as Gucci Mane, Quavo, and Pharrell Williams. Currently, Banks is working on additional projects that have met a number of delays, but the rapping artist still remains in the spotlight between tours and public appearances, signalling her musical career is far from over.
Top 10 Azealia Banks Songs
Coming from the EP “1991” is the single “Liquorice,” which was released on her Tumblr account on December 18, 2011. It did reach Belgium’s Ultratop chart in 2012 where it peaked at number seventy-three. While the song failed to show up on any other major music chart, it’s quite popular among the community of New York’s Harlem, which Azealia Banks grew up in. This is due to the song’s relation to the community’s cultural-based wordplay and slang terms. This song wasn’t designed to be a critic-pleasing chart-topper, but a reflection of who Azealia Banks is and where she came from.
#9 – Trap Queen (Remix)
The original recorded and released hit “Trap Queen” came from Fetty Wrap, who received two Grammy Award nominations in 2015. Shortly after the single was released in 2014, it would be remixed several times by a number of artists, including Azealia Banks. Her version also includes the talent pool of Quavo and Gucci Mane. While her version of this song didn’t chart, it is among the favorites with her fans, whom many felt did a better job with the remix than the other female rappers who also performed their own versions.
#8 – Anna Wintour
The single “Anna Wintour” was released on April 6, 2018, as a planned lead single for the EP “Fantasea II: The Second Wave.” The song was designed to honor Vogue Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, as well as a self-empowerment message meant to inspire the listening audience. Within just 48 hours upon the release of the music video when it first aired on YouTube on May 24, 2018, it already reached over a million views. The single also peaked at number twenty-four on the US Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs Chart.
#7 – ATM Jam (featuring Pharrell Williams)
The 2013 promotional non-album single, “ATM Jam” features Azealia Banks and Pharrell Williams performing together. Originally, ATM Jam was part of Banks’ debut album “Broke with Expensive Tastes,” but she later had it removed, commenting the song was meant for Beyonce Knowles and not as an official single. Banks admitted in interviews she didn’t care for ATM Jam as a single, nor its release, as there were several issues involved in its entire makeup that didn’t sit with her right. Despite her issues with the song, music critics commented how well she and Williams perform together. While the song did not chart on any of the American billboards, it did in Belgium and the UK. On the Belgium Ultratop Urban chart, it peaked at thirty-seven while on the UK Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart at thirty-nine.
#6 – Yung Rapunxel
Coming from the debut album “Broke with Expensive Tastes,” is the single “Yung Rapunxel.” The official hashtag for the song is #YUNGRAPUNXEL, which is actually an interpolation of the 2013 single by Mary J. Blige entitled “No More Drama.” Originally, Banks’ single was supposed to be released on March 26, 2013, but it was delayed to April 26, 2013, instead. Upon its release, music critics shared opinions the song had a 1990s hip-hop feel to it, as well as progressive. Yung Rapunxel reached number twenty-five on Australia’s ARIA Urban Songs Chart and thirty on the UK Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart.
#5 – Chasing Time
Azealia Banks released her first studio album “Broke with Expensive Tastes” on November 6, 2014. Overall, the album does well enough for itself to achieve worldwide charting success, reaching as high as second with the US Billboard Independent Albums Chart and the US Billboard Top Rap Albums, as well as with Australia’s ARIA Top 40 Urban Albums Chart. The single, “Chasing Time,” was written shortly after she experienced a tough breakup from a personal relationship. Upon its release, it mostly received positive reviews by the critics and it did peak at number twelve on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. There are two versions of this song where one features clean lyrics while the other is explicit.
#4 – Heavy Metal and Reflective
Stemming from her 2014 debut album “Broke with Expensive Tastes,” is the single “Heavy Metal and Reflective.” On the music charts, it peaked in tenth place on the UK Official Charts Company’s Indie Chart Breakers and in fortieth on their UK Independent Singles Chart. While the song seems short at just two and a half minutes, it’s still powerful enough to impact the pleased audience to make it among their favorites.
#3 – Luxury
Released in 2012, the single “Luxury” comes from the mixed tape “Fantasea,” which was released as a free download by Azealia Banks on July 11, 2012. With over thirteen million views of the music video associated with this song, fans have sounded their opinion it’s among their favorites. The song features samples of the 1982 single “Love Come Down,” which was originally performed by Evelyn King.
#2 – The Big Big Beat
“The Big Beat” was released in 2016 as the lead single for the mixed tape recording “Slay-Z.” Music critics regarded the song as catch and dance club-worthy as the majority of them gave a big thumbs up as their stamp of approval for the song. While it never appeared on any official music charts, the over twenty million views of the music video associated with the song, the fans have shown they are in agreement with the critics.
#1 – 212 (featuring Lazy Jay)
When Azealia Banks offered the single “212” as a free digital download from her website, this served as the big breakthrough she needed for the rapper genre of music to sit up and take notice. Despite originally being offered as a free download, the commercial success of the song has earned Platinum Certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) shortly after it was released on December 6, 2011. The EP “1991” also became commercially successful shortly after it was released May 28, 2012, which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Top Heat-seekers albums chart, which recognizes new talent as the burst onto the music scene.
This single can also be heard from Azealia Banks’s 2014 debut album “Broke with Expensive Taste,” Lazy Jay’s “Float My Boat” is the music base used in 212. Both of these songs were produced for their respective artists by DJ Jef Martens, who is also the brother of Lazy Jay. While the song 212 failed to appear on any of the US Billboard singles charts upon its release, it did achieve over 250,000 digital downloads there. As far as making chart appearances go, it did peak at number two on Belgium’s Dance Ultrapop and as high as third on the UK Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart.