It’s no surprise that Azealia Banks got into a twitter fight with fellow New Yorker Angel Haze at the end of last week, Haze getting cagey when Banks ripped on poseurs who weren’t from New York and things pretty much erupting from there. (Haze has since deleted her tweets but MissInfo put together a nice summary.) In 2012, Banks started crap with a who’s who of female rappers, in the process becoming one of hip hop’s most belligerent new Internet personas. What is surprising is that some actual music came out of this beef. Twitter fights nearly always end on the site where they began so it can be somewhat astonishing when some diss songs (there’s an anachronistic phrase) emerge from the fray along with meaningless insults and bluster.
(Shockingly enough, this is actually the second rap beef of the year: Cassidy and Meek Mill have exchanged diss songs as well. But I dare you to find me 10 people outside the city limits of Philadelphia who are interested in that.) Haze and Banks are another story. Each is a capable, buzzworthy rapper–Haze with her thin, whipcord flow and raw emotional tracks and Banks with a nonchalant, bubblegum snap and a fantastic ear for production. So who got the better of whom this time? That’s what we’re here to determine…
– Azealia Banks’s “1991” Is A Throwback Summer Jam
– Live: Azealia Banks Enchants Under The Mermaid Ball’s Sea Of Balloons And Tickertape
– A Bite With The Band: Angel Haze On New York, Learning About Hip-Hop, And Fiending For Chipotle
“On the Edge”
“Shut the Fuck Up”:
Pros: Haze should get props even if her raps were trash for being the first to take this into the booth. Her first track “On the Edge” goes directly at Banks, Haze attacks her with personal information including an alleged history of sluttiness, her diminishing funds and her album delays.Then, after Banks response, Haze turns things up a notch, going hard at Azealia in every line over Pac’s “Ambitionz as a Ridah” beat, which works great as a diss track. The following lines from that second track, “Shut the Fuck Up,” are particularly vicious, both because they’re nasty and because they have that ring of truth which makes a beef seem authentic.
In the industry they’re talking about you… Interscope was scared for you
They about to catch a brick, Azealia ain’t making shit
How much Twitter beef does it take to wanna make you get
Into the studio and come up with a different flow
Not try to recreate 212, the only shit you know
Cons: There are quite a few drawbacks on both of Haze’s songs. On the first, she is giggly and unfocused, sounding half-hearted instead of setting an aggressive tone. And though she seems to know quite a lot about Azealia (the two used to be somewhat friendly), all that personal information goes into ad-libs, which Haze announces are hilarious, though they’re mostly inside jokes. “Shut the Fuck Up” is a much better diss song than “On the Edge,” but the track suffers from not being mastered, and it’s a bit of a handicap to measure Haze’s two songs against Banks’ one song. Also, Haze mispronounces succubi (which admittedly, only really counts as a con if you’re a snoot).
Pros: Banks’ “No Problems” is wonderfully mastered, and is provided with some heft on a beat by genre-swirling basshead Machinedrum. Banks has a more agile flow than Haze, typically rapping more quickly and more smoothly and she sounds in command here, whipping through subliminals as if she isn’t particularly invested in the matter at hand (which, honestly, she probably isn’t, having more to worry about with the aforementioned album delays.) Banks’ gift for wordplay still shimmers; her lines don’t necessarily pack a punch but they’re rattled off so smoothly that they still end up sounding fierce.
This bitch broad got blue balls
Hard pressed ’cause I took off
I’m funk fresh from New York
Slay the beat ’cause these wannabees
Wanna be the buzz
Angels need Jesus, angles, features
Live show, PR, they made the baby,
You can’t beat us
Cons: Other than a few tossed-off references to Angel and her output, Azealia’s song could be about anybody. It even sounds as if it might have been a discarded album track with a few fresh insults added–there’s just not really much to work here. It’s a relatively strong song but lacks specificity. Fans need some fire to get behind, but will find nary a spark here.
VERDICT: Banks may yet respond to “Shut the Fuck Up” with a little more vitriol, but as of now Haze is the clear winner. Caring more might not make you look cooler, but it does win you rap battles. “Shut the Fuck Up” is the only one of these three songs that has the focus and passion to become a memorable moment in a genre where diss tracks seem like another facet of the ’90s revivalism we’ve been seeing so much of lately.