Too Many Azaleas in the Garden?

by August 1, 2012
filed under Entertainment

I’m not talking about the flowery shrub.

It’s quite an odd and unsurprisingly controversial consequence that two young female hip hop artists that are getting big during the same period share similar stage names. I don’t know about you, but azaleas seldom cross my mind, and I am not even sure that I could point an azalea plant out. But I can tell you about these up and coming rappers who have both captured my attention.

I’ll begin with Azealia Banks, who I believe is more well-known because she has received more official recognition for her talents (including praise from Pitchfork, NME and the BBC). Azealia Banks is her real name, and not just her stage name. This Harlem rapper has been officially active since 2009 when she began uploading her music onto the internet. She made it big with her single “212” and has since been signed with Interscope.

Iggy Azalea (born Amethyst Amelia Kelly) has been around longer, but has yet to receive the same level of attention that Banks has. I say yet because I believe she will. Between her recently begun modelling career and her first album coming out soon, I predict Iggy Azalea will become a commonly heard name. Iggy is originally from Australia, but moved to the United States where she felt she could finally become a serious hip hop artist. After uploading freestyle raps on the internet she released her mixtape Ignorant Art and a series of videos followed. Iggy like Banks also went viral, she eventually was signed on to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label.

Whether fuelled by the media and fans, or if the two women buy into it, they have already pitted themselves against one another. According to Iggy, Banks ‘dissed’ her song “Pu$$y” on Twitter, and the two have been making jabs at one another via the internet ever since. This publicly came to a head when Banks accused Iggy of having racist lyrics in her song “D.R.U.G.S.”. I don’t have the word count to get into it, but I will say that I disagree with Banks. Both women have also been compared to Nicki Minaj. This might have begun because Banks made the comparison herself on Twitter, or it could have occurred even earlier. The only basis for this comparison in my opinion is the fact that they are all female rappers, with Minaj being the most popular mainstream woman hip hop artist for the moment.

But why do any of these women need to be compared to one another and judged on such criteria in the first place? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel as though female music artists get compared a lot more than their male counterparts. A mutual friend of theirs A$AP Rocky put it best when he implied that it was sad that they chose to take this route instead of working together.

Nonetheless, if you’re reading this it is because you do want an opinion on the two, so here is mine: Banks’ sound is more polished and her music might have more depth. Lyrically speaking Banks explores more themes and concepts, and she appears to have more vocal range. Combined with her beats, Banks appears to be doing something substantially different from most mainstream rappers, and I think it will quickly propel her into stardom. But there’s something so appealing about Iggy that makes her impossible to dismiss. Her vocal quality when she raps is unique and fits well with her rap style, which consequently sounds harder and more aggressive than Banks’ even when Banks has the more provocative lyrics.

Visually speaking (which always has to be taken into consideration when examining anyone male or female in the music industry) Iggy has the more complete image. It’s somewhere between typical 90s and modern fashion, and she does it well. Iggy has had more time to cultivate her look and has found her niche. Banks simply has not released as many videos, or been active as long.

When it comes down to it Iggy and Banks have different musical styles within the same genre, and who you like better depends on what you are looking for. They are both fledging rappers who are nowhere near their full potential yet. Give them both a few more years to figure things out before passing final judgement.

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