For as much promise as Azealia Banks has shown throughout the course of her musical career, she’s exhibited just as many faults - if not more.
The Harlem-born emcee’s debut single “212,” released in 2011, showcased an artist with both lyrical abilities and massive crossover potential. Her originality was a breath of fresh air, and the world wanted more.
Unfortunately, label issues delayed the release of her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, for three years, and while the product was favorably received, Banks’ online persona was beginning to detract from the music that she’d taken so long to deliver.
Banks quickly became better known for her brash tweets than her skills on the microphone and began to garner the attention of both celebrities and media outlets for her proclivity for Twitter beef.
Crudely offered opinions on hot topics like the Bill Cosby rape scandal, homosexuality, airlines, and even politicians polarized any potential fan base growth, and it was clear that her attitude was beginning to affect her business situations as well.
Although her persona was causing more problems than solutions, her musical output remained strong. Her most recent mixtape, Slay-Z, was just as exciting as anything we’d heard from Banks—her effortless transitions between genres is clearly a strong suit—but a hard-to-digest personality has consistently overshadowed her musical offerings.
Early last year, it was announced that Banks would be starring in the RZA-directed film Coco about a New York emcee struggling to chase her dream. The two apparently had a connection, as just recently (October 9), Banks took to Facebook to announce her signing with the Wu-Tang Veteran.
While details on the deal are scarce, the prospect of a seasoned veteran in the hip-hop game taking Azealia under his wing seems promising for her career prospects. Given her musical potential, if RZA can fine-tune her business acumen and get her to focus more on building a fanbase and rebuilding some of the bridges she’s spent the last few years burning, it’s entirely possible that we could see a full resurrection of Banks’ career, and a subsequent propulsion into the level of fame her talents warrant.
Only time will tell if RZA can turn a hot-tempered underground phenomenon into a legitimate star, but given RZA’s knowledge of the music industry and the mostly even-tempered execution of his career, he could be the exact mentor Azealia needs to navigate around the pitfalls her early career has suffered through.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.