If you’re not familiar with 20-year-old Harlem rapper Azealia Banks, now’s the time to get acquainted. She released her first track, “Seventeen,” back in 2009 (which was produced by one of her biggest fans and supporters, Diplo), but the hype didn’t really start building around Banks until last year. With her brand of aggressive, dance led rap, reminiscent of East London’s garage scene, Banks is kicking up a storm in the music world, taking girl rap back to the no-holds barred days when we first met the potty mouthed Lil Kim. Except that Banks is a little bit ruder, and much more raw. There are a million reasons why you need to know Azealia Banks right this instant, but here are the top 6:
Banks got a lot of attention for her 2011 release “212,” which was one of the biggest, most critically acclaimed tracks of the winter. Half dance club, half rap, “212″ is unavoidably infectious, and comes with a generous helping of dirty words. Watch the video for “212″ here.
2. The Cool List
NME put Banks at number one on their Cool List in 2011. Out of 50 musicians, that’s no mean feat for the newcomer. And we definitely don’t disagree with the decision — Banks has that “cool without even trying” nonchalant defiance about her.
If you weren’t a Pitbull fan before, then we promise you will be now. In the second best Kanye West related thing to happen today (hot on the heels of his much talked about Twitter rant), Pitbull (featuring Sensato) has released a remix of Ye and Jay-Z‘s Watch The Throne hit, “Ni**as in Paris,” entitled “Latinos In Paris.” Not only is it a great concept — riffing on one of 2011 biggest hits with tongue firmly in cheek — Pitbull has even released a video for his remix, putting him one step ahead of the still video-less Throne duo. The video, the first Pitbull has directed, is pretty funny too, featuring Pitbull and Sensato rapping in front of an illuminated Eiffel Tower and cutting to images of tacky tourist souvenir mini-tours. We’re now waiting for this “Different Races In Paris” meme to kick off; what will be next? Should we start penning our own version, “VH1 Staffers In Paris?”
Does your brain seize up when you try to read things in reverse chronological order, like in a Twitter timeline? Ours certainly does. So, when Kanye West went on a Twitter rant during the wee hours of the morning, the first thing we thought was “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if someone organized these 80+ tweets into something actually sorta legible, you know with paragraph breaks and the like?” So, with that in mind, we did it for you. You’re welcome. (BOLD EMPHASIS OURS.)
I love being back at my fashion office learning and creating. It’s so challenging and fun and I’m surrounded by amazing people.
They say you only live once but every time I come to work I feel like I’m starting a second life. You guys might think I have some type of backing for my line but I don’t. I did the first fashion show out of my own pocket and used the money I made touring to follow my passion.
I’ve been working at this for 8 years now …from the first offers to do urban clothing lines that I turned down…To begging Bape to do my line and never making any real headway…To having an office in LA that was shut down after the “MTV” moment along with my tour with GAGA.
If there was ever a song to make you wish you were at a beach party in the middle of the summer, sun setting over the ocean and pina colada in hand, dancing until sunrise with your honey, it’s Shaggy‘s “Dame.” Performing last night on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Shaggy was joined on stage by Kat DeLuna who, aside from singing, did some pretty hypnotizing hip shaking. From Shaggy’s latest album Summer Kingston, we’re thinking “Dame” is going to be a dance floor hit — and with Shaggy and Kat’s moves for inspiration, there’s really no excuse not to get low.
Ludacris Opens A Chicken And Beer Shop
Rapper Ludacris is opening a chicken and beer shop at Concourse D of the Atlanta airport. Which, interestingly enough, is apparently the world’s busiest airport. Huh. [Vulture]
Paris Hilton Is An Expert On DJs And Raves
Perennial party girl and offensively rich human, Paris Hilton, is now also a music expert. She says, “There are just so many great DJs right now… And I should know — I’ve been to over 100 raves in the past year, so I’ve heard every type of music.” Of course you have Paris. [US Weekly]
Yeah you read right — the rumor mill is in overdrive with whispers that Madonna might be joining Kylie Minogue for a duet in a UK television special celebrating the Australian pop-star’s career. The details surrounding the proposed TV special are shady at best, with the UK’s tabloid The Mirror reporting that the special will feature duets with Kylie’s sister Dannii, Nick Cave, Jason Donovan and, apparently, Madonna herself. The duet would make perfect sense too, as Kylie is essentially the antipodean mirror image of Madge — Kylie began her recording career in 1987, while Madonna released her first album in 1983, both have since released 11 hit albums, and both have new albums due for 2012. The longevity of their respective careers, responsibility for shaping pop music through the 80s and 90s and true superstar status have made both women icons of pop music, and we’re pretty sure there would be a lot of pants-wetting going on amongst fans should they take to the stage together. Of the rumor, Kylie tweeted: “it’s just a rumour, but of course it would be amazing!! maybe one day:)” so keep your fingers, toes, and all other external appendages crossed, folks!
Last week, we predicted that Adele would start 2012 with her 14th (non-consecutive) week at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, and lo! the prediction came true. Now that the final numbers are in for 2011 (full singles and album sales lists after the jump), Adele’s dominance has never been clearer. Selling 5.82 million copies of 21 during the calendar year 2011, Adele outsold second place holder Michael Bublé‘s Christmas by over 3 million copies, and marked the most sales of any album since 2004 when Usher‘s Confessions sold 7.98 million copies. “Rolling In The Deep” was also at the top of the singles sales list, with 5.81 million copies sold, the first single to ever exceed 5 million paid downloads in a year.
It will be interesting to see what 2012 holds for Adele, given that the singer/songwriter isn’t planning to turn out another album any time soon, and has been quoted as saying she wants to “lay low” for a while, and only release a new album when it’s perfect. Adele was the only artist in 2011 to have Top 10 sales for two singles (“Someone Like You” was #7), and was joined by Lady Gaga as the only other artist to have both a Top 10 sales ranking album and single. Given that Forbes named Lady Gaga the highest earning female artist in 2011, and that she’s set to release another album in 2012 when Adele could quite possibly drop off the radar entirely, could 2012 be Mother Monster’s year to shoot to number one? And if not, who will rise to the top of the pack in Adele’s absence? Will they be able to come close to Adele’s behemoth sales?
An excerpt from Rolling Stone‘s January 2012 issue’s cover story (on newsstands soon) has tongues wagging across the Internet today, as The Black Keys‘ Patrick Carney took what can only be described as a devastatingly large swipe at Nickelback. Speaking candidly to Rolling Stone, Carney said, “Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world… So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be sh*t — therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world. F**k that! Rock & roll is the music I feel the most passionately about, and I don’t like to see it f**king ruined and spoon-fed down our throats in this watered-down, post-grunge crap, horrendous sh*t. When people start lumping us into that kind of sh*t, it’s like, ‘F**k you,’ honestly.”
Speaking of “honestly”, we’re honestly a little bit dumbstruck by the comment — as a completely unprovoked attack, it seems a quite malicious and in poor spirit. We can understand why musicians have seen a void in rock music of late — what with the trend towards Euro-dance, high energy pop and Adele in 2011 — but we’re not sure that the attribution of blame for this is so quantifiable. And we’d like to know who exactly is “lumping” The Black Keys with Nickelback; to us, the two bands present two very different sounds, and we think it would be an oversight to say they are of similar influence. We’re not saying that The Black Keys should be Nickelback fans, we’re just surprised that Carney’s statement was filled with such unnecessary vitriol towards the Nickelback. Come on guys, there’s enough room on the charts for everyone, and we like to think that there will always be a place for rock & roll, no matter what other contemporary trends emerge.
Happy New Year! As we usher in 2012, it’s time for everyone to sit back and reflect on the past, and make adjustments for a brighter future. You know what we’re talking about; the unavoidable, almost-reprehensible-but-not-reprehensible-enough-that-you-won’t-do-it task of setting resolutions for one’s self. No matter how vehemently you oppose New Year’s resolutions —we’re looking at you, Simon Cowell— you can’t help but make them, even if you do it on the sly. Yep, we know how much of a chore coming up with resolutions can be, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to create some for our favorite artists…
Lady Gaga: Instead of taking it off, try putting it on. What we’re trying to say is less peacocking, more clothes — we want to see a real human for once (not that we don’t love Mother Monster, it would just be a welcome change to see the girl underneath).
Kanye West: Do not collaborate with Lana Del Rey. No seriously, we know she’s new, but what we like about you is that you are not only adept at picking “new” artists to collaborate with, you consistently find both the subversive and undiscovered.
Beyonce: Don’t spend too much time with the baby. OK that one’s entirely selfish and unreasonable on our part, but what will we do without at least 7 new Beyonce videos in 2012? WHAT WILL WE DO? Read more…
Finally ready to release a new album after 1998′s Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star, Mos Def (who now goes by Yasiin Bey) and Talib Kweli are back as, you guessed it, Black Star. Backed by The Roots, Black Star performed “You Already Knew” from their Aretha Franklin-inspired mix tape, as well as a song called “Little Brother” (after the jump) on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Black Star performed “You Already Knew” with a raw, charged emotion, tapping into some of the issues Watch The Throne attempted to tackle with a sincerity and refinement that Hov and Ye didn’t quite pull off. A formidable hip-hop pairing indeed, we’ve been waiting years for the duo’s next album, and we can barely contain our excitement that it’s almost here!