At a young age Banks became interested in musical theater, dancing, acting and singing. Aged ten, she began performing in off-Broadway musicals with the Tada Youth Theater in Lower Manhattan. Banks attended Catholic school in Harlem in her childhood, and danced with the National Dance Institute. She had lead roles in three productions (Rabbit Sense, Sleepover, and Heroes) in addition to performing as a soloist.
After signing a recording contract with Interscope and Polydor Records, Banks came to prominence by topping NME’s Cool List in 2011 and finishing third in the BBC’s Sound of 2012. Her debut single “212”,being ranked at number 9 by Pitchfork Media and number 2 by The Guardian.
Since its release, “212” has been featured in the season one finale of the HBO show Girls and the E4 drama Skins. It has also featured in several films, such as The Heat, The Bling Ring, A Long Way Down and Pitch Perfect.
LUXURY – AZEALIA BANKS
The song received universal acclaim, with critics complimenting Banks’ versatile rapping style as well as her song writing ability.
Since writing “212”, Banks has adopted an alter-ego named “Yung Rapunxel”. This alter-ego was adapted from Banks referring to herself as Rapunzel, due to a long weave she wore while working at Starbucks as a teenager.
Banks discussed this with Rolling Stone saying, “Yung Rapunxel is that girl who pisses people off but doesn’t really mean to. She’s actually a sweetheart! But people are so taken aback that she’s so herself; she’s not even trying to be unique or different. She literally just lives in her head; she does what she wants to do. So, the lipstick is here for someone who is happy to be themself.
Azealia Banks – Chasing Time
AllMusic characterizes Banks as “a stylish vocalist who combines hardcore hip-hop, indie pop, and dance music.” Meanwhile, The Guardian ’s John Robinson considered Banks’ style “an appealing blend of Missy Elliott and dance-pop.
AZEALIA BANKS – VAN VOGUE
She is also known for her often fast-paced rapping, or “flow”. In a review of Banks’ debut EP 1991, Chris Dart of Exclaim found Banks’ rapping speed “remarkable”, commenting that she “manages a feat that takes most rappers the better part of a career to master: the perfect marriage of bangin’, club-friendly beats and smart, crisply delivered lyrics”.
1991 – Azealia Banks
Banks has said she admires American recording artists Beyoncé and Aaliyah stating the former ” the queen of everything. She’s the most remarkable performer and musician. And this is just my humble opinion, but I just think she’s better than everyone else making music right now.” Banks also cites Bajan pop singer, Rihanna and house singer, Crystal Waters as influences.
Azealia Banks – Ice Princess
Bonus track 2012 charted at number twelve on the Rap Albums chart, number seventeen on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and number one on the Heatseekers Albums chart.
AZEALIA BANKS – 212 FT. LAZY JAY
AZEALIA BANKS –website