Azealia Banks is back with her latest effort, Slay Z, and this time she is back to doing her own thing. The mix tape was released as a free download via her ever controversial twitter account. After breaking free from a major label to release the brilliant Broke With Expensive Taste (Seriously, if you haven’t listened to it, buy it now), Banks has parted ways with her independent label to offer her fans her latest effort. It is certainly refreshing to see artists release their music by themselves, and more notably, for free. The only other example of this happening that comes to mind is Miley Cyrus and her brilliantly wacky Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz. It’s also heartening to see that so much music is coming through independents, and Azealia Banks does not disappoint.
Okay, some of you are probably like “Azealia Banks? Oh, the girl who sang ‘212’ and who has beef with EVERYONE on twitter? I didn’t know she still existed.” Firstly, you need to keep up to date with all things Azealia Banks, secondly, you’ve been fucking missing out. Her music just sounds so god damn fresh, like nothing else that is out there.
Getting down to the business of taking a closer look at the album, Slay-Z is a belter, for me it’s the perfect continuation of what Banks has been doing well for a long time now. She is certainly sticking to the old formula of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I know that many people may see this as being unoriginal, or perhaps even stale, yet for some reason, Banks manages to make her music so fresh. I honestly can’t put my finger on what it is that she’s doing to her music, but whatever secret ingredient she’s adding to the mix, it certainly makes her music sound ageless. ‘212’ could have been released on Slay-Z and it would sound bang up to date.
The stand out song for me for Slay-Z has to be ‘Queen of Clubs’, a heady and self-confident ode to owning the night, with Banks demonstrating he full singing/rapping/shouting abilities. The line “she was dealt the queen of clubs/so tell the fuckin’ DJ to play my favourite song” has been swimming around in my head for days, and ‘Queen of Clubs’ has been on heavy rotation on my playlists. Other songs of note include the chilled-out ‘Along the Coast’, and the wonderfully Clubland Classics-eqsue ‘Skylar Diggins’ (if rap met the likes of Cascada)
Some of the songs aren’t as immediately appealing, they are much slower burners. ‘The Big Beat’ was one song that I dismissed far too early, however, on listening to it again, I have a new-found appreciation for it. Clearly Banks thinks that her fans will like it too, as she has just released an accompanying video on her Vevo account. It is positively heartening to see Azealia Banks able to do what she does best, away from major label control, twitter dramas and everything else negative that she seems to be encircled by. Banks’ talent is seemingly limitless, I’d kill to see her live, to see her artistry in action. I hope that she continues to do what she’s doing, because Slay-Z is frankly, amazing.