Azealia Amanda Banks (born May 31, 1991) is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. Raised in Harlem, New York, Banks pursued an interest in musical theatre at a young age, studying at the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts before dropping out to focus on her musical career. In late 2008, she adopted the pseudonym "Miss Bank$" and began releasing her music through MySpace, eventually being signed to XL Recordings at age 17.
Later signing to Interscope and Polydor Records, Banks rose in notability in 2011 when she topped NME's "Cool List" for the year. On December 5, 2011, the BBC announced that Banks had been nominated for the Sound of 2012, where she ultimately finished third. Her debut single, "212" featuring Lazy Jay, was released on December 6, 2011, later becoming part of her critically acclaimed EP 1991. She released her mixtape Fantasea in July 2012 and digitally released "Yung Rapunxel" as the first single from her upcoming debut studio album Broke with Expensive Taste on April 16, 2013.
Early life and career beginnings edit:
Azealia Amanda Banks was born on May 31, 1991. Her mother raised her and two older sisters in Harlem, after their father died of pancreatic cancer when she was two years old.
At a young age she became interested in musical theater, acting and singing. Aged ten, she began performing in off-Broadway musicals with the Tada! Youth Theater in Lower Manhattan. She had lead roles in three productions (Rabbit Sense, Sleepover, and Heroes) in addition to performing as a soloist. Banks was trained in the performing arts at LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. At the age of sixteen, Banks starred in a production of the comedy-noir musical City of Angels, where she was found by an agent and sent on auditions for TBS, Nickelodeon, and Law & Order, all without success. It was at this point that Banks decided to quit acting, citing the large amount of competition and overall sense of unfulfillment as reasons for leaving. Because of this, Banks began writing rap and R&B songs as a creative outlet. She never finished high school, instead choosing to follow her dream of becoming a recording artist.
Under the moniker 'Miss Bank$', she released her debut recording "Gimme a Chance" onto the internet on November 9, 2008. The recording was accompanied by "Seventeen", a track produced by American DJ Diplo which sampled the Ladytron song of the same name. Later that year, Banks signed to record label XL Recordings and began working with producer Richard Russell; leaving the label later that year due to conflicting ideas.
2011-12: 1991 and Fantasea edit:
"Richard Russell was cool, but as soon as I didn't want to use his beats, it got real sour. He wound up calling me 'amateur' and the XL interns started talking shit about me. It just got real fucking funny. I was like, 'I didn't come here for a date. I came here to cut some fucking records.' I got turned off on the music industry and disappeared for a bit. I went into a bit of a depression."
--Banks talking of her departure from XL Recordings.
Following her departure from XL Recordings, Banks left behind the 'Miss Bank$' moniker and formally became Azealia Banks, which preceded a move to Montreal. Using YouTube as a portal, Banks uploaded several demo tracks--including "L8R" and a cover of "Slow Hands" by Interpol. In September 2011, Banks released her debut single "212" as a free digital download from her website, which was subsequently released officially on December 6, 2011, as the lead single from her EP 1991. The track attained European chart success, peaking at number seventeen in Netherlands, number twelve in the United Kingdom and at number seven in Ireland.
Though unsigned at the time, Banks began working with British producer Paul Epworth on a debut studio album. It was announced in December 2011 that Banks would feature on "Shady Love", a track from American band Scissor Sisters' fourth studio album, though the feature would remain uncredited. An accompanying music video was released in January 2012 following its radio première from Annie Mac (BBC Radio 1) on January 4, though the release of the single was cancelled for unconfirmed reasons. Banks released the track "NEEDSUMLUV (SXLND)" on the Internet on January 16, 2012, coinciding with what would have been the thirty-third birthday of the late singer Aaliyah, who is sampled on the track. A week later saw the emergence of a second track entitled "Bambi", which having been produced by Paul Epworth, had been selected as the soundtrack for a Mugler fashion show in Paris. It was then in February that Banks revealed the tentative title of her upcoming debut album, Broke with Expensive Taste.
In May 2012, Banks announced plans to release a mixtape--originally titled Fantastic--entitled Fantasea. Preceding its release was the track "Jumanji", released online on May 11. A second track from the mixtape, "Aquababe", was made available online on June 13, while the third, "Nathan"--featuring rapper Styles P--was made available online on June 30.Fantasea was released via Banks' Twitter account on July 11, and was succeeded by the unveiling of Banks' online radio project, 'Kunt.FM' the following week. Banks' first extended play, 1991, was released in the United Kingdom on May 28 and in the United States the following day. The four-track play, of which "212" featured, was not eligible for the UK Albums Chart, but the title track charted at number seventy nine on the UK Singles Chart and number one hundred and thirty-three on the Billboard 200. Having originally announced in January 2012 that filming for the "Liquorice" music video had begun in Paris with stylist Nicola Formichetti, Banks proceeded to re-shoot the video with Rankin joining her as the video's director. The final edition was released online on June 14.
Banks was scheduled to release her second single "Esta Noche" on September 25, 2012, but was then pushed back to an undisclosed date due to disputes between Banks and producer Munchi. It has been confirmed that Banks has worked with Lady Gaga on two tracks entitled "Ratchet" and "Red Flame". Banks also revealed that she collaborated with Kanye West on G.O.O.D. Music's compilation album, Cruel Summer, but further clarified that, ultimately, her contributions did not make the final edition of the album. It is unknown if this collaboration will see future release. Banks released a new song on December 31, 2012, called "BBD," set to appear on her upcoming album Broke with Expensive Taste. The song had been originally planned for release on November 28, but was pushed back for sample clearance. The beat contains a sample of "Trap Shit V9" by UZ.
2013-present: Broke with Expensive Taste edit:
Early in 2012, Banks revealed that her first album would be called Broke With Expensive Taste. Spending most of 2012 writing and recording the album, she revealed that the album "has been FIVE years in the making," and that she had "written ALL new material" for the album, "except for '212.'" Banks initially announced that the album's lead single would be a track titled "Miss Amor," and that it would be accompanied by a B-side titled "Miss Camaraderie", both produced by Lone. however, these plans were changed and she revealed on January 28, 2013, that the first official single from the album would be a song called "Yung Rapunxel." On February 28, 2012, she confirmed that the single would be released on March 26, 2013, but this was later delayed to April 16, 2013, in the UK and April 16, 2013, in the US. However, on March 11, 2013, Banks released the entirety of "Yung Rapunxel" on SoundCloud.
On March 14, 2013, Banks revealed on Twitter that there will be 13 tracks on the standard edition of Broke with Expensive Taste and 17 tracks on the deluxe edition. In May, she revealed that the next single from Broke With Expensive Taste would be "ATM JAM", featuring Pharrell. No official release date for the album has been announced yet.
Personal Life edit:
Banks is openly bisexual. During the very few instances where she has discussed her sexuality, Banks has expressed dissatisfaction with society's labeling of others based on sexual orientation. In an interview with The New York Times, Banks stated, "I'm not trying to be, like, the bisexual, lesbian rapper. I don't live on other people's terms."
Banks has said she admires Aaliyah and Beyoncé, saying the latter "is 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." In regards to her own musical style, Banks has frequently been noted for the use of profanity in many of her songs, as well as her often fast-paced rapping (or "flow").
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."
On January 5, 2013, Banks engaged in a feud on Twitter with Perez Hilton, one tweet by Banks reading "what a messy faggot you are." The tweet - among other tweets to Hilton in a similar tone - was met with an immediate backlash, after which Banks wrote "A faggot is not a homosexual male. A faggot is any male who acts like a female. There's a BIG difference." Banks apologized shortly after to those that were offended, excluding Hilton. Banks' comments triggered a statement from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) that read "Regardless of her intent or her personal definition, what matters is the meaning given to that word by those who hear it, and the damage it causes when they do." Banks condemned GLAAD's statement and said the organization was "fucking complete bullshit." She compared the public's reaction to usage of the word "nigger" in hip-hop music against usage of "faggot" and said, "Why are all these other things like murder and sex and violence and all these other things accepted, but as soon as I call one gay white man a faggot, his feelings are more important." Banks noted her own bisexuality, saying "I knew what I meant when I used that word".
The following month, Banks was involved in a feud with producers Baauer and Diplo after Banks posted a remix of Baauer's song "Harlem Shake." The remix, featuring Banks' vocals, was removed at Baauer's request, although she posted emails sent by Baauer stating that he liked her version of the song. Baauer explained he didn't like Banks' vocals and previously requested her not to post the remix. Banks reposted her remix and denied Baauer's claims, saying she was informed Baauer did not wish to officially release Banks' version because he wished to feature Juicy J instead. After the feud, which included a tweet directed toward Baauer where Banks stated "may you drown in faggotry," LGBT publication The Advocate informed its readers that Banks' music sales had increased since her previous feud with Hilton.
Banks has also taken part in feuds with T.I., The Stone Roses, Iggy Azalea, Kreayshawn, ASAP Rocky, Rita Ora, Amanda Brunker, Shystie, Jim Jones,Lil' Kim, Nicki Minaj, Angel Haze, Funkmaster Flex, Dominique Young Unique, Troy Carter and Dave Holmes (Azealia's past managers).