Stop Paying Attention To Azealia Banks And Angel Haze, Trina Has A New Mixtape OutBy Skinny Friedman
The internet rap game is off with a bang in 2013 with Azealia Banks and Angel Haze taking shots at each other with impressive efficiency. According to Twitter they exchanged about four diss tracks in 24 hours. I don’t know who won or if they were any good because I don’t really find either of these emcees that interesting. I see a lot of generic articles about Angel Haze and I gather she is a capable rapper from New York who also happens to be a woman. Azealia Banks is a good rapper and “212” hits hard and that joint with Styles P is really good, but she has also followed the blueprint for being unlikeable with a Chris Brown-level of accuracy. Word to Munchi.
It’s ironic that while I was riding three trains to Philly and vaguely following rap beef, I was listening to Trina’s very good Back 2 Bidness and Diamond (formerly of Crime Mob)’s not-bad The Young Life. I feel bad that I’m not up on Banks or Haze and feel an obligation as a rap writer to catch up on that shit eventually, but I am actively interested in the careers of Trina and Diamond. That’s not to imply there can only be a set number of female rappers at a time (and I have a grip of other stuff I passed on when I chose my music for the trip)—I’m just saying the juxtaposition made me think.
Trina spends the lion’s share of Back 2 Bidness telling off lame dudes and broke bitches while waxing poetic about the size of her butt. It’s what she’s been doing her entire career, updated for 2012 (it came out a couple weeks ago). A lot of the album evokes Nicki Minaj’s effortless bravado, from the sparse title track to more uptempo Florida-esque jams like “Shit’s Real” and “Supa Bad.” Tracks like “Head Turna” and “Tic Toc” (with her new boo French Montana) are standard, very good trap shit. Also included is the very weird, very Dade County “Beam” in which Gunplay sings his entire verse. It’s been around for a minute but it’s still crazy and great to hear. Like a lot of mixtapes Back 2 Bidness is kind of a sprawling mess, more of a demo reel than a cohesive album. But she’s still great at rapping and could be one good single away from joining 2 Chainz and Juicy J in late-career stardom.
Diamond is best known for ripping shit as a quarter of the teenage crunk group Crime Mob. “Knuck If You Buck” and “Stilletos” were classic records only made better by the fact that Diamond and Princess did all the lyrical heavy lifting. Crime Mob had a longer career than you think (although that’s another post entirely) and anything the extended crew does is worth checking out. Diamond’s The Young Life (from August) is no exception. Lead single “The Thirst” and “Reality Check” find Diamond glaring out the VIP at anyone wanting to know, fuck or be her. The beats are all spooky Atlanta street goodness. “Jelly” dips perfectly into Atlanta’s ongoing, Kilo Ali-inspired bass music flirtation. The Young Life is uneven and sounds kind of dated (especially the Daft Punk-sampling, Juicy J-assisted “At The Bar,” which has to be at least three years old). But it’s good to see one of the more underrated women in rap putting in work.
Again, I don’t want to add to the already misguided idea that female rap is a zero-sum game. There are a lot of good female rappers and a few of them are famous. Nicki Minaj is unfortunately spending more time singing and making reality TV than rapping these days, but she was the biggest and arguably best rapper in the country two years ago. Let's just hope whoever follows in her wake (and don't get me wrong, there will be another woman to dominate the rap game like like Nicki) is famous for making great music and not for beefing with Perez Hilton.
Skinny Friedman is a writer and DJ living in Brooklyn. He knows more about rap music than anyone else ever - @skinny412
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