It’s strange to think three years have passed since Ann Powers dubbed Azealia Banks a fresh voice with the potential to change hip-hop in Slate’s 2011 Music Club. Back then, it didn’t feel like such a bold prediction: Banks was one of the industry’s most talked about young rappers thanks to breakout hit “212.” Even a year later, Jason King was still praising her as the “most provocative artist” of the year in the 2012 Music Club. But in the two years since then, Banks’ career hasn’t lived up to the hype: Multiple feuds on social media with other artists and even her own label have surrounded her in perpetual controversy as her debut album has been delayed again and again and, in July, she was finally released from Universal. This split may have been for the best. Now, Banks is starting to share music on her own terms, and the latest song to emerge suggests that she could be making a comeback.
“Chasing Time” is the first new track we’ve heard since Banks released the Quentin Tarantino-inspired video for “Heavy Metal and Reflective,” which she said was about “getting off the label.” She’s since been performing “Chasing Time” live in Europe, and today we get our first chance to hear the studio version. And it’s the best material she’s released since 2012’s excellent Fantasea mixtape, employing the same kind of polished rap-sung style and ’90s house-infused beats she previously mastered on songs like “Luxury.” It’s also, unlike most of her earlier work, structured like a pop hit, complete with a radio-friendly hook on which she sings, “Am I chasing time/ Cause I’ve wasted all mine on you.” It’s enough to give us hope that her much anticipated and long overdue debut album Broke With Expensive Taste might finally be on its way.