It’s fitting that Azealia Banks, a perennial magnet for both warranted and unwarranted controversy, has leaned into making music for the club. If her years in the public eye have proven anything, it’s that she’s too raw for the bright lights of pop fame. Her smattering of singles since the release of her 2014 debut, Broke With Expensive Taste, recoiled from the spotlight, leaning into the dark corners of the dance floor where you can escape into fantasy. “Escapades” and “Anna Wintour,” two songs meant to herald a resurgence for the musician, had the euphoric feeling of Nineties house gems. Were the public a bit less fixated on Banks’ online antics, they could have been radio mainstays.
By now, however, Banks fits perfectly in a mainstream niche forever altered by the strangeness of the past year. Her Instagram account has been host to a number of the pandemic’s more notable moments, and her latest, “Fuck Him All Night,” includes artwork featuring Kanye West’s name painted on Banks’s fingernails, a sultry connotation fitting for both musicians.
What’s always been true for Banks is that she makes very good music — unquestionably infectious bangers that DJs with any sense would know to play in a nightclub unafraid of a good time. “Fuck Him All Night” was produced by the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cleveland producer Galcher Lustwerk, well regarded in dance music circles for his brooding and melodic blend of house and hip-hop. It’s a pitch-perfect pairing, as Banks’ kinetic rhyming hopscotches over the four-to-the-floor beat. Perhaps energized by the fact that most people can’t seem to remember why they were so mad at her, Banks is delightfully filthy, at one point boasting about her feminine anatomy with a comparison to Jay-Z’s lips. It’s vintage New York rap, raunchy and a touch problematic, the taboo heightening the appeal.
Banks might just be ready for the breakout moment she never had. Or, rather, the world might be ready to accept her on her own terms. She’s a genuine eccentric, and after the past year, maybe that’s just what we need.