How do your favorite rappers write their rhymes? To find out, Complex TV has started a new series, The Process. Hosted by Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg and shot at New York City's legendary Chung King Studios, The Process features intimate conversations with established legends as well as exciting up-and-comers about how they put their rhymes together and the magic that happens when the pen hits the pad. New episodes of The Process premiere every Tuesday on Complex TV.
In this episode of The Process with Peter Rosenberg, Azealia Banks shares how she got into rapping. Growing up in Harlem, the 22-year-old MC says her interest in music came as a side hobby to performing as an actress during her teenage years. "I was doing it both at the same time, but it was weird because when I first started rapping I was smoking a lot of weed. And when you're a kid smoking weed, you can't really handle weed the way you can handle it as an adult," she says. "I would write all these raps, and I had this boyfriend who would record me and shit like that, and I would put the stuff out. That was just kind of like my excuse. For a minute, rap was just my excuse."
After finding success with her single "212" and later signing a label deal, Banks explains the pressure mounted for a follow-up. "When it came time to start recording the album I was like, okay, what's the hottest song I have? What's the hardest song I have," she remembers. "The pressure of literally having to turn it into the label was like, I got to get this done. It took me three years to write 'Yung Rapunxel.'"
With success comes criticism, which Azealia is well aware of since stepping into the scene in 2008 as 'Miss Bank$.' However, she says that doesn't affect her anymore. "It did at the beginning because I was so new to it. I grew up on the Internet, I grew up in chat rooms cursing my friends out," she says. "Once I came out and I was rapping, the only way to get your music out was on the Internet. Once the media got involved, now I truly don't give a fuck, and that's really true and honest."
Azealia Banks' debut album Broke with Expensive Taste will be released early next year. Her latest single "ATM Jam" featuring Pharrell is out now. If you enjoyed this episode, watch Joey Bada$$ talk about his writing techniques and working with Pro Era below.