Between the steely beat, the timbre of her voice and her flow, Ms. Banks is serving "Is That Your Chick?"-era Missy Elliott on "Nathan," a song from her Fantasea mixtape, due out next week. It's just as well: if Missy's not going to release robotic, just-leftfield-enough hip-hop, I'm glad that someone's doing it. Aided by producers Drums of Death, Azealia continues to impress and Style P's verse is fantastic, too. Dig his Batman words.
Iggy Azalea almost wasn't Internet-famous. Last summer, the native Australian was living in Los Angeles, and after what was supposed to be two weeks in Miami at age 16 had turned into five years spent in four cities throughout the states, she was down to the last of her savings. She had one shot left, and so she used that money to film the music video for "PU$$Y," a song off her first mixtape.
Some melodrama went down at New York hip-hop radio station Hot 97's annual Summer Jam this weekend. Before the show, morning-show host Peter Rosenberg publicly dissed headliner Nicki Minaj for her increasing pop appeal: "I see the real hip-hop heads sprinkled in here. I see them. I know there are some chicks here waiting to sing ‘Starships' later - I'm not talking to y'all right now." "Starships" refers to Nicki's current screaming pop-house hit.
About three years after its originally scheduled release, Baltimore rapper Rye Rye's debut album, Go! Pop! Bang!, has at last been released. It's a hoot that sometimes skews a little too close to radio trance, but otherwise has the ability to tease wild things out of her collaborators like Bangladesh — the dude who produced Lil Wayne's "A Milli" flips into full-on dance mode with Rye Rye.
Today, M.I.A. announced on Twitter that her bangin', raucous "Bad Girls" was spawning remixes featuring contemporary female rapper heavyweights Missy Elliott, Azealia Banks and Rye Rye. If it turns out that they're all on the same track (and not separate remixes), that "Bad Girls" remix will be the equivalent of this remix of Brandy's debut single, which featured the bigs of the female rap world in 1994. (In 1997, Lil' Kim went for the same effect by drafting Missy, Left Eye, Da Brat and — haha — Angie Martinez for the "Not Tonight" remix.) For as much of an event as gathering titans together to flip a Brandy track (way before her vehicular death debacle), what I admire about the "I Wanna Be Down" remix is how laid back it is. There's a matter-of-factness about women coming together for the sake of hip-hop that we're just getting back to, almost 20 years later.
Neneh Cherry broke through with the rapping/singing hybrid "Buffalo Stance," a dance song without much low end that turned interjections into hooks ("Gigolo, sucka!") and included an amazingly melodramatic spoken-word breakdown ("The wind in my face, the sound in my ears / Water from my eyes, and you on my mind..."). That song is positively straightforward next to this, a sideways take on Madvillain's "Accordion." Cherry's sung/spoken/rapped/screeched vocals make MF Doom sound quaint in comparison, as they dip in and between the constraints of bars and loop back to zero in (seemingly randomly) on a few of Doom's lines to invent a refrain. The mounting jazz cacophony behind only adds to the chaos. This may not be one that yields repeat listens (who knows how it'll come off when Neneh Cherry & the Thing's collaborative full-length, The Cherry Thing arrives next month), but it's something to experience at least once, this avant answer to the renewed pop cultural interest of women in hip-hop. Neneh Cherry hasn't released an album in 16 years, and she couldn't have chosen a better time to come back.
Compulsive sneerer/rapper Nicki Minaj was profiled on last night's episode of Nightline. It was not very illuminating, but getting to hear Juju Chang say things like, "She sees herself as a rapper: hardcore," "edgy, adult raps," "her rhythms and rhymes are feminine, yet fierce" and "bossed up," was hilarious. A reel of her square-talkin' narration is above.
We wrote about Nicki Minaj last week, but I don't think I properly salivated over this little monster, which had its video debut over the weekend. Minaj's laid-back (though varied) delivery underscores the innate greatness she's claiming and the track is ferocious despite being a deceptively calm design of ricocheting sonar sounds and growling sub-bass. It's all testament to the virtue of not trying to hard, and as such, it's the first Nicki-led song that I've found compulsively listenable. Even if this is the only good thing to come out of Roman's Revenge, the otherwise underwhelming project will have been worth it.