“212” by Azealia Banks (ft. Lazy Jay)

“212” is indicative of, shall we say Azealia Banks’ quirky character. It is a rap, though some segments may be too lyricist simplistic to be classified so by purists. But even if Banks’ stylistic leanings are more on the hip-hop than rap side per se, this piece is definitely more along the latter, i.e. hardcore, in sentiment. In fact the confrontational tone Azealia appears to take towards fellow female rappers in the chorus had some believing that she was even trying to spark drama with Nicki Minaj herself.

But what we are dealing with here more expressedly is a number of references to sex, including lesbianism, i.e. the vocalist touting an ability to pull it off with both sides of the game. There’s also a part of the song where the rapper expresses a willingness to sniff c-ke. And later on, Banks even puts forth that if a dude comes around her trying to flex, flaunting cash and all, she’s likely to rob him. 

So this is definitely some gangsta, even NSFW ideas being relayed here. But they are done so in a way – going back to this song’s simplicity, in a manner of speaking – that Azealia is jumping around so much that by the time you process one thought, she’s already on to another that’s equally as ear-catching.

The one part of the song that is different, humble even, is the bridge, whereas in reality Banks is chastising herself for ‘procrastinating’, i.e. not capitalizing on her talent. The composition of “212” dates back to a point in her career when Azealia was a starving artist. So in this particular passage she’s kicking her own butt, so to speak, i.e. encouraging herself to grind harder.

Song’s Title (“212”)

As for the title, “212” is actually a New York City area code and the primary one used for residents of Manhattan, with Banks herself being from Harlem. So in that regard, she’s basically giving a shoutout to her hometown, though said area code nor the ‘hood itself appear to be directly referenced in the lyrics.

Lyrics of Azealia Banks' "212"

Did Azealia Banks write “212”?

Yes. She wrote it with a Belgian songwriter and record producer called Jef Martens. The Belgian, who is also known by the moniker Basto, also produced this song as part of the production duo, Lazy Jay. whose most successful work to date is “212” also produced the song

Release Date

This originally came out on the 6th of December, 2011 from Banks’ maiden EP titled “1991”. It was actually the EP’s first single. The song was later released again in 2014 as part of Banks’ maiden studio album (“Broke with Expensive Taste”).

Did “212” chart?

It was actually very successful in Europe, especially Belgium (where it reached number 2 on the country’s official Dance Chart). In Ireland, it was a top-ten single. Furthermore, it achieved top-20 status in at least three other European countries, including:

  • UK Singles (#12)
  • Scotland (#12)
  • Netherlands (#17)

More Great Accomplishments

“212” enjoyed commercial success in a variety of places, especially the UK. It has so far sold over half a million copies in that region alone.

Furthermore the song has been voted as one of the greatest hip-hop songs of the 2010s.

1n 2021, Rolling Stone magazine included this song in their list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. It was placed at number 485 on this iconic list (just behind Weezer’s “Buddy Holly“).

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