“Black music” has had a fascinating shift over the last 20 years — from the gangsta rap stylings of Tupac and Biggie and now into this metaphysical surrealist mire where the visuals would be more at home in an Andre Breton landscape. I blame Kanye and R. Kelly (and to a certain extent, Bootsy Collins). Now Azealia Banks, with her new video “Atlantis,” is trying to put her stamp on the genre with an undersea romp by way of an acid trip. I think I would be okay with the song if I had never seen the video. But now that I have seen it, I cannot unseen it. And that’s a problem.
“Atlantis,” which is applicable to NMR in that it was released online (and is thus in the domain of our skewers), has that sort of early 90s awfulness to it, with the sort of generic “future technology” that seemed dated even when it was new. Here I feel like I’m watching that terrible early 90’s movie “The Lawnmower Man.”
My issue should be that I cannot discern whether she is eye-checking the early 90’s ironically or if it is because this video is so low-budget, it just comes off that way. But that is not my issue, because I don’t care whether it was intentional or not; she shouldn’t have done it.
Now Azealia was born in 1991, so she never really dealt with the era, but as far as everything goes, a serious case could be made for the early 90’s being the worst period in American history since prohibition. And you should never try and make truly awful things nostalgic. Would Jewish people be okay with me wearing a Hitler mustache “ironically”? I shit you not — the early 90’s was a fashion Holocaust, and for Azealia to flaunt it in my generation’s face makes her about as insensitive as… well… this article.