“A wop bop a lu-bop, a wop bam boom!”
What was Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” about? I hadn’t previously entertained the notion that it might be about oral sex, but Azealia Banks‘s “212″ bridges the gap between the Rev. Richard’s exuberant nonsense and explicit declarations like, “I guess that cunt getting eaten.” In a cool-as-a-cucumber lyrical lope, Banks sings about “cock-a-licking in the water by the blue bayou” (if anything will raise Roy Orbison from the dead…) and warns “your bitch’ll get you cut and touch you crew up too, Pop.”
Banks’s meaning is a little more clear than Little Richard’s, but her rhymes are so dense with allusions and multi-layered braggadocio that even a line-by-line analysis from rapgenius.com can’t keep up with her — notably, when Banks volunteers to “sit in that lunch if you’re treatin’,” I don’t think she’s just saying “she’ll eat lunch with you if you’re buying,” I think she’s talking about lunch at the Y.
But does it even matter what she means? Yes and no. Producer Jef Martens’ track is so infectious that Banks might as well be be-bop-a-lu-bopping or in-a-gadda-da-vidaing or even voulez-vous-couchering and it would still be an addictive cut. But if we want to step back a few feet, we might note that “212″ is very possibly the first — or at least the best — pansexual hip-hop track. She’ll steal your man, steal your girl, lick your cock, rub her plum on your tongue… whatever, dude. The point is, mama’s getting hers and yours and, yeah, that’s right, yours too.
Banks is bisexual but says “I’m not trying to be, like, the bisexual, lesbian rapper.” The effortlessness is apparent: Banks wears her bisexuality as lightly as the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt wears his homosexuality. Merritt matches his songs with male and female singers apparently with little regard to whether any given song is directed at a man or a woman, which gives albums like 69 Love Songs a sense of almost floating sexuality — which parts are fitting where matters less than whose heart is getting broken, and in what key. “212″ has that same feeling: Banks just does not have time for your categories and labels. All you need to know is, her cunt’s getting eaten tonight in the 212. What’s the run, dude? What are you into? A wop-bop-a-lu-bop, a wop bam boom.