In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
The diss track is a longstanding hip-hop tradition, built into the genre’s innate spirit of competition, though in recent years, among younger artists, the form’s been somewhat eclipsed by the immeasurably more inane (and link-baiting) Twitter beef. Walking Tumblr meme Azealia Banks has already found herself at the center of several such beefs in the year or so since she blipped onto people’s radars with the awesome “212,” but her latest Twitter skirmish awoke a sleeping giant in the form of similarly buzzed-about rapper Angel Haze, whose trio of 2012 mixtapes were among last year’s most exciting records.
Prompted by a tweet from Banks last Thursday that said, “Seriously, if you were not born and raised in NY.... DON’T CLAIM NY. YOU ARE NOT A NEW YORKER,” Haze—who claims she “runs New York” in the excellent “New York” from her Reservation mixtape—took offense, prompting a childish back-and-forth from which neither emerged with much dignity. But then Haze did something strange: She took the beef off Twitter and actually recorded a song, mere hours after the whole thing began. (She claims it took her 20 minutes.) The resulting track, “On The Edge,” samples The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Running Your Mouth” and taunts her target mercilessly, knocks Banks’ alleged diss track aimed at Jim Jones, “Succubi,” proudly claims Haze’s Detroit heritage and 313 (not 212) area code, and alludes to a tumultuous offline history between the two women. This is not the first time Banks has found herself the subject of a diss track—impressive for someone who has yet to release a proper album—but “On The Edge” says much more about Haze than her mermaid-haired mark: namely that she’s one of the most ferocious and talented new voices in the game, regardless of what geographic region she claims.
ETA: The drama continues: On Friday, Banks responded to Haze with her own “No Problems,” which prompted Haze to double down with “Shut The Fuck Up,” which is how most people are feeling about this entire thing at this point. Pitchfork is keeping tabs on the whole mess here.