Up until now, Azealia Banks has been a rapper enjoying the ephemeral type of success born of giddily irrepressible YouTube videos, four-song digital EPs, and a rare live set or two. Yesterday the New York MC posted her first full-length release, the 19-track Fantasea, the 19-track Fantasea mixtape, for free download, and took the next leap. On early listens, not only is it a worthy use of your 122.2 MB space, but she nails the landing.
As with Banks' previous tracks, Fantasea combines emphatic, no-bullshit rapping with sleek, state-of-the-2012-art electronic dance beats. "Liquorice," the 1991 cut that recently inspired a Western-themed video isn't here, and neither is Banks' recent appearance on one of M.I.A.'s feature-packed "Bad Girls" remixes. But clap-happy "Jumanji," with its instantly quotable "real bitch, all day, Uptown, Broadway" catch phrase, most definitely is, along with Diplo-assisted marching-band party-starter "Fuck Up the Fun," acid-throwback Styles P team-up "Nathan," and more. The new songs range from a strikingly apt cover of Zebra Katz' vogue-rap diss track "Ima Read" to a goth-organ tongue-twister called "Runnin'."
We haven't heard the last of the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts alum formerly known as Miss Bank$, either. She's set to release her major-label debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, this September. As Banks tweeted last night: "NOW IT'S ALBUM TIME !!!!!!!!!!!!!" Tell the scientists mermaids are real, after all.