Don’t typecast Azealia Banks; she is a fabulous mass of contradictions. Having garnered a reputation for her pupil-blowing command of outrageous fashion, she claims that too much attention on the sartorial “can actually smother you and it can really, really distract from your music”. Her ringtones range from the Spice Girls’ ‘Say You’ll Be There’ to Foxy Brown’s ‘Hot Spot’, her Instagram reveals a love of the Beta Band and some of her filthiest ghetto electro beats sit comfortably beside a candied version of Interpol’s ‘Slow Hands’ in her musical canon.
On “212”, 2011’s ubiquitous club anthem and Azealia’s breakout track, she spat out filthy verses like machine bullets and confirmed her position as one of the most exciting, credible (here’s looking at you, Kreayshawn) young female MCs of recent years. There’s more to Azealia Banks than incandescent style statements and inciting, uncouth lyrics. During her second visit to Dublin, a sold out show in the Academy, she brings writhing backing dancers, a duo of DJs and acid geometric visuals, but it’s her delivery of dynamic, complex rhythms at breakneck speed that’s most dazzling.
Taking to the stage with mermaid-perm hair and a cut-out cat suit preserving her modesty in the loosest sense of the word (anything more would have been an unholy disappointment), Banks launches into ‘Van Vogue’, beaming at a crowd that largely comprised rapturous teens (overheard: “the average age here is bacteria!”) sweating through homemade t-shirts, singing along, never missing a beat. The set is a well-spread fusion of her 1991 EP, Fantasea mixtape, old tracks and cuts from her upcoming album Broke With Expensive Tastes. Her lyrics are brilliantly sassy – “I’m just doing me but these bitches can’t breathe”- and her stage presence equally precocious. She introduces ‘Liquorice’ as “the Azealia Banks anthem” but the Hudson Mohawke-produced pounding tropicalia of ‘Jumanji’ is better received, though equally delicious.
Eventually, Banks baits her devotees with an a capella verse of ‘212’ (it may be far from her only achievement but for the moment it’s the most celebrated) and cuts them loose, as the venue reverberates with brawling choruses of “I’ma ruin you cu*t”. She returns to the stage for an encore of ‘Yung Rapunxel’ clutching a red megaphone, an irreligious leader leaving no doubt that she really has “been that bitch since the Pamper”.