It's been a long time since I was able to talk about Azealia Banks in a positive light. More accurately, it's been a long time since I was able to talk about Banks' music at all. Nowadays, when Banks is making headlines, it's about any of a number of celebrity feuds she's gotten herself entangled in. In June 2014, Banks and rapper T.I. had a Twitter feud to end all Twitter feuds, escalating to the point of threats being thrown and disparaging remarks about T.I.'s wife getting increasingly uncalled for. They've since made peace, sort of, but the feud was followed by Banks leaving her record label Universal. Ultimately, that move turned out to be a good thing because it enabled Banks to get a fresh start. "Chasing Time" is Banks' second single since leaving Universal and it's one of the best songs she's ever done.
Quite honestly, the numerous feuds that Banks seemed to jump between made it easy to forget what a talented rapper she is. However, "Chasing Time" is a house rock/rap/pop medley that has a little bit of something for everyone and blends all the elements together seamlessly. It tells the story of a break up, but one in which Banks is freeing herself from a toxic relationship and basking in her freedom and independence. If it's another sly swipe at her former record label disguised as a love song, it's at least being more subtle about it than "Heavy Metal and Reflective" — at least until the music video comes out.
However, it's undeniable that some of the lyrics from the song do kind of sound like she's alluding to Universal, if Universal was a bad boyfriend instead of a successful recording company.
I try to give you a little more space to grow. White lies, I don’t wanna be around anymore. I’m through giving. I’ve got to go.
Banks bought her way out of her contract with Universal and celebrated the day she was finally able to announce that she and the company had parted ways. It was heavily implied that Banks felt that they were stifling her creatively and welcomed the opportunity to be her own artist. These lyrics would make for an interesting allusion to that.
Check my watch, I left my future in my pocket. Thought I lost it when I gave it to you.
It hardly needs explaining that Banks might have felt like she had signed her life away to her recording company and is looking ahead to her musical career now that she's free. This would be a clever way of phrasing it, not to mention one of the best lyrics in the song.
Need me a boss. You’re a constant delay.
How long have we been waiting for Broke with Expensive Taste again? Two years?
My attitude is bitchy but you already knew that.
This sounds more like Banks taking a self-deprecating swipe at herself than at her former label, but it's very self-aware of her to toss in a reference to her frequent feuds and disagreements and the attitude problem she is commonly thought to have by other people. Of course, "Chasing Time" might not be a reference to her dispute with Universal at all. After all, it sounds like your standard break up song intertwined with Banks' trademark rhymes and a surprisingly pop sound, and she already got her revenge song out of her system with "Heavy Metal and Reflection".
You think I’m starting new relations. I’m just apart and need my space and time to myself.
The fact that Banks chose to follow "Heavy Metal and Reflection" with a song about breaking up and being fine on your own is pretty telling, though. Banks hasn't been romantically connected with anyone as of late, so who the song is referring to if not Universal is pretty hard to guess. Then again, not every artist has to necessarily be inspired by personal and immediate life events. Banks could be rapping about break ups in general or a break up from her distant past rather than anyone in her recent present. Regardless, "Chasing Time" is one of her best songs yet and Banks has been using that space and time to herself really, really well.
Listen to the song below.
Image: Getty Images