imathers asked: What's confusing about it?
"It" being the response to Azealia Banks’s "212,” to which the Jukebox gave a score of [9.10] today.
I like the song just fine —  or , if I’d blurbed it — but I don’t hear anything that would prompt this grand and unifying enthusiasm. I knew people liked it, but I was expecting a combined score of mid , not our highest score of all time — by more than half a point. Nothing about it sounds exceptional.
A brief side story: In his blurb, Alfred compared the tune to Neneh Cherry, prompting Chris Molanphy to comment:
Points to Alfred for the Neneh Cherry allusion. This doesn’t provoke quite the level of gobsmacking, “What the hell is that?!!” excitement “Buffalo Stance” did the first time I heard it pumping from a radio in 1989, but it’s close.
And I scoffed to myself. “Buffalo Stance" had that reaction? Then I realized that I didn’t even really know "Buffalo Stance"! I may have never heard it. In fact, it was quite possible I’d been dismissing Cherry my entire life because the first thing I ever heard from her was "7 Seconds.”
So I checked out “Buffalo Stance,” and wow, yeah. Some of the production is a bit dated, but it’s an amazing tune, and I can quite see folks back in ‘89 going nuts for it. And yet “212” is apparently the ‘11 equivalent, and I just can’t hear it.
Its electro groove sounds like Soulwax’s “NY Excuse,” a song I enjoy, but don’t think of anything as mindblowing. Banks raps in a monotonous mutter, and though the things she’s saying are striking — “I’mma ruin you cunt” is a great lyric — she has no presence that I can hear. And yet y’all are hearing something I’m not. Ed says she has “a seemingly fully-formed persona and charisma to burn.” Hazel hears “cocky, taunting singing.” Brad Shoup considers it “totally arresting.” I’mma cop an internet’s worth of hate for saying this, but I prefer Kreayshawn (whom Jonathan Bogart mentions as someone critics will call “212” a moral rebuke against). Kreayshawn can’t rap as well, but there’s more personality in the vocal on “Gucci Gucci” than there is on this.
Other comparisons leave me baffled as well. Erick Bieritz mentions E-40 (crossed with Björk…?), which I just don’t understand. How are 40’s woolly thickets of syllables anything like Banks’s steady, unshowy flow? Shoup, Anthony Easton, and Bogart all bring up Nicki Minaj, but Minaj shows more verve in one line on “Roman’s Revenge" — "I’m a bad bitch; I’m a cunt" — than Banks does in this entire song.
I just struggle to think of a comparison that doesn’t leave Azealia Banks looking worse for it. As up and coming Harlemites go, give me ASAP Rocky. If we want to shut women rappers into their own class, then Nicki, yes, but nothing about this is as bracing as hearing Crime Mob for the first time. M.I.A.’s personality might be more grating, but she’s a better pop writer. Dave brings up ”Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” but he’s forgetting that, far from that being universally beloved, it was actually one of our most divisive entries of all time. (Besides, the Das Racist song had an irrepressible goofiness entirely lacking from “212”.)
Bieritz’s comparison to Santigold makes the most sense, but I never loved Santi White either. Of all the blurbs, Michelle's is most convincing… until I listen to the song again and hear none of what she's hearing.
And… I seem to <Chris Traeger>literally</CT> be the only person who hasn’t fallen head-over-heels, blown-away in love with it. Usually even when we overwhelmingly approve of a song, there’ll be some dissent. And not only am I apparently the sole voice of opposition this time, I can’t even hear what everyone else is responding to. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m baffled.