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The Azealia Banks we’ve come to expect and inadvertently tolerate has quite the decadent persona; she is unrepentantly unapologetic for being unrepentantly controversial. Her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, was released last year and amid playful boasts and lustrous synth sheen was brutal and cavernous hip hop. It was a swaggering masterpiece draped in dervish rhymes and sassy vocals. To a sold out crowd at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club, the self-proclaimed “Ice Princess” wore all white and commanded the entire room from start to finish.
Apparently, Boston served as Banks’ high-end playpen. She proved that her stage presence is less of a performance and more of a reckoning–and every song recited was corrosively beautiful. “1991” and “Liquorice” demonstrated Banks’ airtight craftsmanship and delivery between feverish breaths; “Ice Princess” and “Yung Rapunxel” luxuriated in its own booming bass and thunderous feedback. Other songs like “Chasing Time” and “Miss Amor” tested her adventurous vocals, but Banks’ singing remained strong and engaged.
The potency of the evening can be attributed to its brilliantly minimalist execution. There were no obvious ill wills, no soapbox to be ascended on, no elaborate stage setup. It was Banks, a couple of backup vocalists, a few dancers, and most notably an over-the-top crowd who were just grateful to be in her presence. They fed off her movements, rapped every bar, and practically anticipated her setlist. And Banks, the underrated lyricist and eternal center of attention that she is, willfully obliged.