While a storm of controversy seems to follow hip-hop artist Azealia Banks, no one seems to have qualms about her talent. The arts high school graduate has shown that despite the odds stacked against her, including public spats with her record label and other famous artists, her creativity speaks for itself.
After the release of her EP “1991,” in 2012, Banks is back with a long awaited album, “Broke With Expensive Taste.” With a new album comes a new tour.
After seeing her in concert this spring, I have no doubt that Banks will continue to push herself beyond her singing and rapping abilities. She is already gearing up for her television debut, where she will star in Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA musical as Coco, a college student dabbling in slam poetry.
As I walked into the Los Angeles Nokia Theatre this April, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had listened to her music, I had watched live YouTube videos, but seeing Banks in concert was sure to be a new experience. I have always been impressed by Banks’ range as a performer, where she not only raps but she also sings and dances on beat. This show was no different; her energy bounced from her back to the crowd. She also remained very professional throughout the show. Her concerts are all about her talent, which made me forget the controversies many associate with her.
The Nokia Theater was packed with die-hard fans, some who had traveled from all over the state to see Banks perform.
“It was pretty surreal to listen to an artist for such a long time and finally seeing them in person,” said one audience member from San Francisco.
“Standing in line with all her fans was great to, because it’s a group of strangers that have one thing in common.”
Every time someone came out on stage, the audience shouted in excitement. Someone even jokingly blurted out, “Whoo! Iggy Azalea!” naming her social media rival.
Banks appeared on stage in a golden-orange fringe tank top, black pants and boots. She looked like your “girl next door” but the simplicity of her outfit did not take away from her talent. It instead humanized her and made audience members feel a personal connection to Banks.
The show began with “Idle Delilah.” Images of John F. Kennedy, cartoons and iconic images were projected on a big screen behind the stage. With the use of videos, lights, sound effects and talented back up dancers, Banks takes you on an emotional trip.
“Luxury” has been one of my favorite songs by Banks and it is one that stood out to me during her live show. It’s a cute, upbeat song about love that gives off a fashionable-New York-vibe. The song gives listeners the luxurious feeling some associate with being in love.
During her “Luxury” performance, Banks had nothing but a simple spotlight on her. She sang the song’s bridge a capella, demonstrating that she’s not only a rapper but a skillful singer as well.
Banks sang into a black megaphone for her performance of “Yung Rapunxel,” and flashing lights reflected the anger in the music. The crowd was feeling it – you could sense the angst and energy bouncing off the crowd. The song starts with the repeating phrase: “I want to be free.” You could feel a storm brewing in the theater, and there is literally the sound of a storm in the background of the song.
Banks has confirmed on genius.com that this song’s lyrics are about being “used to the fame, money and acclamation.” “Yung Rapunxel” seems to be a reflection on how fame can change people for the worst.
Her last song was “212,” which is one of her biggest hits. A music video played behind her while everyone in the audience was screaming the lyrics out from the bottom of their soul. This was the first song that my best friend showed me back in 2012. Listening to it performed live gave me a feeling of coming full circle with experiencing Banks’ music.
Banks is a big talent paired with a big personality. Despite the controversy surrounding Banks, she had her focus on her artistry during this show.
“She didn’t bring up any controversial banter,” explained an audience member. “I’m sure it was on everyone’s minds and [she] was doing what she does best: making [great] music.”
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