Photo by Julia Schur
To say that Azealia Banks has attitude is a drastic short-selling of the star-power, girl power, hip power, and bar power of Harlem’s harshest harpy. Charging the stage like a neon orange bullet, Yung Rapunxel flew straight to the front of her party, rocking the insanely tight outfit seen above, as well as a pair of sunglasses that made it look as if she had two tiny suns for eyes. Perhaps it was because she was fifteen minutes tardy–leading one nearby audience member to just shrug, amused, and mutter “Of course she’s late,”–or perhaps it was that outfit, or the wind-making volume of the bass, or the look on her face that said she was the hottest girl in the room, but the entire crowd was more than ready to dance with ferocity and glee when Azealia finally appeared.
As she noted, the hometown heroine was performing in her native city for the first time in two years (though she did rock the 5th Ave M.A.C. store on Fashion Night), and the crowd was happy, and, more importantly, proud to see her. Beginning with “Out of Space” and proceeding to bounce between cuts from her mixtape (Fantasea) and her EP (1991), Azealia’s set was a viciously fun party.
Azealia’s was the only rap act (or act of any genre, as far as we know) at Governor’s Ball to utilize backup dancers. One woman with close-cut hair and one man with a striking, strong physique strutted, gyrated, and pouted in co-ordinance with each of Azealia’s cuts. Their greatest addition was the male dancer’s shining moment, as he vogued every which way with precision and intent during the gay-ball-celebrating “Fierce“. The crowd loved it; he loved it.
There was no question where everyone’s utmost attention was during the rest of the set, though. It was not on their weed–though many were lighting up–it was not on the dancers, it was not on the cheesy seapunk video that was barely visible in the daylight. Azealia had everyone in the palm of her hand, and it wasn’t just thanks to her outfit, her beat selection, or the look on her face. She was fantastic at hyping up the crowd, asking “Who’s fucking toniiiiight?” suggestively bouncing back and forth on her hips . She looked audience members in the eyes, stuck out her tongue, and darted around the stage with speed and agility.
Perhaps most important to note is that Azealia‘s rapping was very, very polished. Throughout the show, Azealia’s dizzying double-time flow (does she ever really slow down?) was 100% on point: she never tripped or missed a word, not even once. Azealia Banks is like that in almost every way–from the production value, to the outfit, to her swarm-of-bees approach to fitting syllables to a beat, Azealia doesn’t miss a thing. There’s a reason why we can’t keep our eyes off of her.
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