On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay – 212 (2011)
” 212″ (pronounced “two-one-two”) is the debut single by American rapper Azealia Banks. The musical base of the track is the song “Float My Boat” by Belgian DJ Jef Martens and his brother Toon (under the alias “Lazy Jay”), who also produced Banks’ version.
We’re staying in the US, dear reader, but leaving Wisconsin and making our way over to New York. Azealia Banks was just 17 when she started releasing music on the social network, MySpace (anyone remember Tom?). However, we join Banks in 2011 with the release of her debut single, 212, whose music was taken from Belgian act, Lazy Jay, who produced the song and are credited as the featured artist too.
212 refers to an area code in New York, in this case Manhattan, where Banks was raised. She wrote the song at a difficult time in her life before fame and when she was struggling to pay her bills. In the song Banks hits us hard with her vicious rap, challenging anyone that stands in her way. She sounds like she is the Queen of the 212 and anyone that dares to mess with her will regret it. In the chorus, Banks asks us what we will do when she finally rises to the stars, presumably when her career takes off. The song is notable for its use of vulgar language such as “bitch”, “cunt” and “nigga” which raised a lot of eyebrows upon release.
212 is a raw and angry rap from Azealia Banks, a defiant lashing out at society and to all the people around her that threaten to stop her pursuit of a better life. Banks may have been struggling when she wrote the track but she was determined to fight by the sound of the lyrics here. The song was critically acclaimed upon release and charted well also, spearheading Banks’ career which continues to this day.
Favourite songs so far: