When you take as long to release your debut album as Azealia Banks has — and talk as much trash as the “212” rapper does — you can’t just re-energize your stalled career with a good song. You need a great song.
“Heavy Metal and Reflective,” which finds Banks slinging her usual sing-song-y cadence over a beat every bit as metallic as the title, is by no means that song. It is, however, the closest the rapper has gotten to restoring skeptics’ faith after the lackluster “ATM Jam” (proof Pharrell doesn’t always have the Midas touch) and the polarizing “Yung Rapunxel,” which maybe have been a little too nuts for its own good.
In the video, Banks is driven out into the desert and left to die alone of thirst, which shows some awareness of the state of her career given the roll she was on two summers ago (back then, another rapper similarly named after a flowery shrub was putting out so-so music amid her own record label issues — oh, how the tables have turned!). Perhaps Banks’ recent label emancipation is finally letting her get down to business; or maybe she’s figuring out what Lil’ Kim hasn’t yet: that you don’t hold on to relevance by talking about relevance, you just put your head down and do the work already. If Banks’ back catalog is any indication, we still have every reason to pay attention.