Azealia Banks Biography
Banks signed to Interscope Records and Polydor Records and 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 EP 1991. She released her mixtape Fantasea in July 2012 and plans to release her debut studio album Broke with Expensive Taste on February 12, 2013.
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. Banks spoke of her childhood in an interview with The Independent, saying:
"We lived in Harlem just, like, at the beginning of its gentrification, but my mom had our apartment since she was 18, she worked a retail job, but she worked on commission, so she made like, maybe, $75,000 or $80,000 a year...I grew up very spoiled... like, I had everything: I had computers, I had videogames, I had dress-up clothes, I had lipstick, I had heels – not like, actual heels, play heels – I had dolls, I had birds, I had hamsters. My mom did a good job of keeping me stimulated...So you can't really do the... "'I've come from the ghetto and it's really hard' thing? Well, I came from the ghetto, but it wasn't hard for us, y'know what I mean? Because I lived on the block with kids who were, like, crack babies. I had other aunts and uncles who lived in other parts of Harlem, and I'd go with my cousins and we'd be out on the street, y'know. I had a healthy juxtaposition of, like, good and bad."
At a young age she became interested in musical theater, acting and singing. Aged ten, she began performing in off-Broadway musicals with the Tada! Youth Theater in Lower Manhattan. She had lead roles in three productions (Rabbit Sense, Sleepover, and Heroes) in addition to performing as a soloist. Banks was trained in the performing arts at LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. At the age of sixteen, Banks starred in a production of the comedy-noir musical City of Angels, where she was found by an agent and sent on auditions for TBS, Nickelodeon, and Law & Order, all without success. It was at this point that Banks decided to quit acting, citing the large amount of competition and overall sense of unfulfillment as reasons for leaving. Because of this, Banks began writing rap and R&B songs as a creative outlet. She never finished high school, instead choosing to follow her dream of becoming a recording artist.
Under the moniker 'Miss Bank$', she released her debut recording "Gimme a Chance" onto the internet in February 2009. 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 Records and began working with producer Richard Russell; leaving the label later that year due to conflicting ideas.
2011–12: 1991 and Fantasea
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 one of Banks' future releases. 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. January 16, 2012 saw Banks release the track "NEEDSUMLUV (SXLND)" on the Internet, 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 Lady Gaga 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 25 September 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 respectively titled "Ratchet" and "Red Flame" that may be featured on Gaga's upcoming studio album, ARTPOP. 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.
2013–present: Broke with Expensive Taste
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. On January 4, 2013, Banks released another track called "No Problems."
Initially revealing that Broke With Expensive Taste's lead single would be a track called "Miss Amor" and its B-side "Miss Camaraderie," she revealed on January 28, 2013, that the first official single would actually be a track called "Yung Rapunxel." The single is set to be released on February 12, 2013.