Azealia Banks reveals she nearly quit making music
(Credit: Manfred Werner)


Azealia Banks reveals she nearly quit making music

In a sit-down interview with The New York Times, Harlem emcee Azealia Banks revealed that she nearly gave up on a career in music before she found success with her breakout single ‘212’ in 2011. 

Before her success, Banks had a turbulent unproductive career in music. At 17, she signed an artist development deal with the UK record label XL in 2008. However, living in London and locked into a deal she didn’t understand, the ‘Liquorice’ lyricist found herself in a creative block. Although there was some minor traction, she was eventually dropped. 

Addressing this period, Banks told  The New York Times, “I was thinking maybe I should go get a GED (General Education Development Certificate) and go to college.” Banks has previously revealed she worked a number of jobs between 2008 and 2011, including selling paraphernalia at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Cub as well as being a stripper in Queens.

However, in 2011, Banks explained, “Then I just get this phone call from Nick Grimshaw on BBC Radio 1, and he’s played it (‘212’) like a million times.” Banks released ‘212’ independently while living in Montreal with Jacques Greene, her musical affiliate. 

Following the track’s success, Banks explained the aftermath “I didn’t even know what BBC Radio 1 was. And then very quickly, you go from getting paid $150 and a bottle of Smirnoff to perform to getting, like, $5,000 at some weird charity event. I’d never had 5,000 anything all at once in my hands, ever. All I could think was, I’m going to get a weave and a laptop.”

Banks, as an American, didn’t know what Coachella was revealing, “I didn’t know what Coachella was when I got booked for Coachella. That Coachella date in 2012, it was like, all right, I’m here. I’m a star.”

Since 2011, Banks has had a tense career and a lot of tension with labels including Polydor, Eone, and Parlophone. Her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, was critically acclaimed.