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Ariel has some competition as the most musical mermaid and she goes by the name Azealia Banks. Don’t be mistaken though, this is no Disney princess. Azealia Banks is a Harlem bred woman on the road to Hip Hop stardom. Fantasea, her debut mixtape is 18 tracks with two features and is a follow up to her 1991 EP. The mix tape had several delays but was eventually released via Banks’ twitter account. (Read The Source’s: “Social Media’s Effect on the Hip Hop Game”) The mixtape, which Azealia describes as “witch Hip-Hop” as well as “rave” may confuse some Hip Hop music goers who are anticipating raw rap. Nonetheless, Fantasea acts as an interesting start to Bank’s musical career.

Each song on the mix tape is unpredictable due to Azealia’s choice of noteworthy beats. Hip Hop heads won’t take kindly to the first four tracks which play heavily into the rave genre. The beats in “Out of Space”, “Neptune”, “Atlantis” and “Fantasea” have a habit of outshining Azealia and it isn’t always for the best. Although many fans may applaud the creativeness exhibited by Azealia, she may have been better off filling that empty space with features.

Hip Hop revives itself on Fantasea when track 5, “Fuck up the Fun” begins to play. The hard hitting beat combined with Azealia’s rapid fire flow come together for an in your face track that reminds you just who you’re listening to. Azealia sounds most comfortable in the later segment of the tape as she delivers future hits such as “Aquababe”, “Running”, “Us” and “Esta Noche”. These songs are reminiscent of Bank’s classic “212” which had fans glued to the artist for her raunchy lyrics and unique style. Hip Hop veteran Styles P even makes an appearance onFantasea in the song “Nathan”. Displaying excellent word play, both Azealia and Styles P verses are undermined by the beat which drowns out their abilities.

The nautical theme of Fantasea is highly appropriate for its mid-summer release. It’s hard to ignore the Caribbean singed beats on Fantasea. They act as a theatrical stage for Azealia to deliver her underwater performance. Although Bank’s has denounced herself from the “rap game” it may be better off for her to stick to her Hip Hop nature. The high screeching beats found in the electro inspired songs sometimes overshadow Azealia’s real talent: rapping.

Those looking for a Lil Kim protégé or the return of Lauryn Hill need not come here. Azealia Banks has her eyes and voice towards the future. By tapping into her creative instincts, surely acquired at her schooling in LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, Azealia has separated herself from others and established an independent identity. More than anything, Azealia has created a mystical aura around what to expect from her debut album Broke With Expensive Taste this fall. 

In the meantime, grab a Pina Colada and find yourself a body of water and give the mixtape a listen!

You can download Fantasea free right here !

~S.J DiBenedetto  (@SaysSal)