Dipping in and out of genres, going in between braggadocio and tender vulnerability, Azealia Banks brings her endless talent to her March 24th mixtape, Slay-Z. It seems almost too easy for everyone to get sidetracked by Banks’ endless twitter rants and celebrity beefs, but for someone like me who just recently followed her, Slay-Z shined as a project of ambition and talent as opposed to a reminder of her ability. Slay-Z is brief with only 8 tracks that average out to about 3 minutes each but it maintains its status as a grandiose intermission between critically acclaimed Broke With Expensive Taste and her upcoming mixtape Fantasea II: The Second Wave.
Slay-Z opens with a relatively luke-warm Nina Sky-assisted track “Riot,” but picks up speed with the stadium-appropriate "Skylar Diggins" where Banks shows off her best Jay-Z impression. The Maybach Music “Big Talk” rolls in next, with Rick Ross reminding us of how fine Banks is, directing his words to us and her “y’all know y’all saw the playboy cover. Bring that sexy ass here, girl.” While Ross served his famous bossed-up delivery, Banks meets (surpasses?) him on his own turf, using her “black magic, David Blaine” flow to both brag about herself while somehow still managing to talk about witchcraft. She keeps the fantastic shit-talking going on the spacy, rave-esque “Can’t Do It Like Me” letting the other girls know they “better off keeping they mans at the hotel waiting” 'cuz they can’t do it like Banks. Showing of her chameleon-like ability she then morphs in both sound, delivery, and topic with “Used to Being Alone” asking “how does it feel, to treat me the way you do?” showcasing her impeccable voice that proves that Banks is equal parts singing diva and rap impresario. The next tracks “The Big Big Beat” and “Queen of Clubs” belong at all the upcoming festivals -- booming out of the huge sound systems with its instant crowd-moving beats that continue Banks domination of the hip-house scene. Slay-Z closes with my personal favorite, the slinky and smooth Kaytranada-produced “Along the Coast.” Sparse and pulsating, the production leaves enough room for Banks to quietly ride on top of every beat, building on its oozing sexual-appeal with clever word play like, “can I watch while you row your boat? I love the way you stroke it.”
Banks has fantastically set the stage for her summer mixtape release and I for one, cannot wait to hear it. If you haven't listened to Slay-Z yet, its #NeverTooLate to get into it now! Download it here