As YouTube and other streaming services have become the new radio, Azealia Banks has been one of the technological shift’s more notable beneficiaries. Although late 2011’s “212” song and video remain the New York rapper’s biggest moment for now, she has kept up a steady string of memorable YouTube clips, whether the rooftop-partying “Luxury,” high-fashion “Fierce,” and seapunk-baiting “Atlantis” — all from last summer’s excellent Fantasea mixtape — or her earlier 1991 EP’s frantic “Van Vogue,” Western-themed “Liquorice,” and ’90s-channeling “1991.”
After more recently manipulating the controversy-rewarding world of Twitter, Banks gets back to the rap-video business with stark, hard-hitting visuals for her venom-tongued remix of Baauer’s memeified “Harlem Shake.” In a starkly lit room and an outfit that would’ve violated the Grammys’ stuffy dress code, she shakes her body and her hair while breathing fire. It’s all another way of saying, with shouts to Kelis: “Your shake’s the favorite, and now they want it.”
About a year ago, Banks told SPIN, “I’m only thinking about music right now.” Well, the Twitter beefs keep coming, and Banks’ heel turn might even wind up boosting her profile. But we’re still trying to focus on her much-delayed debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste.
To that end, as FACT points out, Banks and Ariel Pink have recently taken to Twitter to tease a possible collaboration. A shame Donald Glover beat Banks to that punch line, but the team-up would suit Banks’ uncompromising nature as much as her yen for mermaid imagery. If Banks ultimately appears on the new Beyoncé album, as the rising MC has hinted she might, her music should have a wide enough reach — from the Super Bowl-winning pop queen to the underground’s reigning auteur — that she could even get away with a less incendiary social-media profile.