Upon reflecting on the start of Azealia Banks’s career, one of the questions—perhaps the No. 1 question—that come to mind is “How did we get here?” In 2011, when her debut EP, 212, dropped Banks was on top of the world. The industry’s darling, she had Rolling Stone begging “more please,” Pitchfork called her a “boundary-busting symbol of hip-hop's ever-changing mores,” and Spin put her on a cover. The music world was poised to listen to her first LP, Broke With Expensive Taste. Three years, a legion of Twitter feuds, and umpteen delays later, we’re no closer to a release date.
Azealia says not to worry. She’s got something, but due to circumstances beyond her control, she’s got to keep it under wraps for now. “Right now, I kind of have my head down,” the 1991 MC tells me. “You know, keep my head down and my mouth shut until everything is worked out and then hopefully release some songs that I’ve been holding onto forever.”
Banks says that before she can put out anything new, she’s got to get off of her current label, Interscope. “I’m waiting for something to happen with my label, but its looking like I’m probably going to be switching labels, which is very exciting. Right now, I kind of have my head down. It’s totally just the logistical things on the end of some of the people that I work with. And it’s really sad and unfortunate just because it doesn’t really make sense from anyone’s point of view. I’ve just been keeping myself creative and inspired.”
According to her Twitter, Banks says that’s she’s been exploring other artistic mediums, including writing and culinary arts. But when I ask her to elaborate, the Harlem-bred hit-maker gets a little cagey. “I can’t talk about what I’ve been writing about because I’m just keeping stuff until I’m off this label. I can’t really risk them getting excited about me again. I kind of want them to think that I’m dead. I haven’t been leaking any songs that could potentially be hits. I haven’t been releasing anything that could potentially be phenomenal. I haven’t been doing anything good because I don’t want these people to want me. It’s like a relationship with an ex-boyfriend, where you kind of do things to make him go away. Like when you don’t brush your teeth. I’m not going to brush my teeth because I don’t want you to think I’m attractive.”
All this playing possum has clearly got the young MC frustrated. “It’s really stupid; it’s really fucking dumb. It sucks. It’s more stupid than anything I’ve ever done on twitter. It doesn’t make sense, you know?” However, just because she’s biding her time, doesn’t mean that she’s out of the game; Banks is performing at the Supreme Festival’s inaugural NYC Pride party on June 28 and then embarking on a world tour.
“I’ve got some stuff lined up for the summer,” says Banks gleefully.“It’s my first time performing at a Pride event. I was born in New York so I was always somewhere in the mix for Pride downtown.” After that she’s taking her show on the road. “I’m definitely excited about going back to Japan and its just my favorite place to shop – I love shopping there. And of course, I’m going to Ibiza this summer, which is really cool. I’ve never been to Bali but I’ve heard really good things about Bali too. Then I come back and I’m back stateside and then I’m heading to my ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ on September 25 in the United Kingdom.” Though her own website says she’ll be in the Netherlands on September 25, Banks is known for having an erratic tour schedule.
Though she’s trying to keep her new stuff locked away, Banks isn’t sure how long she can keep that up. “This summer it will probably be an Azealia Banks review, but push comes to shove, whatever happens in September in terms of new music, whether I have to leak it or not but I can't, I can't.”