Every April, scores of music enthusiasts flock to the desert in Indio, California to attend the highly anticipated Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In recent years, the multi-day festival that originally catered to an indie-rock crowd has emerged into a major mainstream event. Artists like Madonna, Jay-Z, and Kanye West have all graced the stage at Coachella. This year, Harlem-bred rappers Azealia Banks and A$AP Rocky were the talk of the festival. Their pivotal performances not only highlighted the first weekend of Coachella 2012, but it contributed to solidifying their position in the music industry.
Although Azealia Banks is new to the rap game, she’s been cosigned by some of the biggest names in the music industry. Despite being a newbie the sweet-faced, slick-talking rapstress’ music has been well-received internationally. With major buzz comes high expectations; many people were curious to see if she could pull off a live performance. The Coachella Festival was her first official gig in the U.S. and she delivered. Rocking a purple ombre weave, a black and white striped pant set and combat boots, Azealia Banks took to the stage and performed for a packed tent of Coachella-goers.
Her 25 minute set included her recently released tracks ’2-1-2′, ‘Grand Scam’,'Fu** Up the Fun’ and covers of songs like ‘Valerie’ by Amy Winehouse and ‘Come Home With Me’ by Cam’ron. The crowd was intrigued by her use of slick wordplay over hip-hop, electronic and house produced tracks. Overwhelmed by the positive reception from the Coachella crowd, a teary-eyed Azealia tried her best to hold her composure and deliver a strong performance.
Following her set she tweeted “The audience was so receptive. And loud ! It made me happy so I cried all thru my set lol”. Although the comparisons to Nicki Minaj are continuing to roll in, Azealia is set on creating her own path. “She’s only had one album, and she’s only been famous for a year, so she doesn’t have that big of a legacy for me to be the new her. She’s her and I’m me” said Azealia in an interview with The Guardian. It will be interesting to follow her journey in the music industry as she not only deals with the challenges of being respected in a genre dominated by men but tries to differentiate herself from other femcees.
A$AP Rocky and the A$AP mob closed out the festivities on Saturday night. Performing on a stage that resembled an antiquated war zone with up-side down black and white U.S. flags swaying in the background, A$AP Rocky and his squad did an hour long set. Decked out in all black everything from his ‘Funeral’ emblazoned snap-back to his patent-leather kicks he performed songs like ‘Purple Swag’, ‘Kissin Pink’ and ‘Peso’. The crowd included members of Odd Future and Barbadian songstress Rihanna.
The A$AP team outshined Radiohead which was presumed to be the evening’s main attraction. “I just want to say thank y’all for a wonderful night, see y’all next year” he said after performing his last song. A$AP Rocky has accomplished so much is his career so far. He went from relatively being unknown about a year ago to headlining events like Coachella. The future looks very promising for the Harlem rapper.
Azealia Banks and A$AP Rocky are taking the world by storm. Although Indio, CA is miles away from New York City, this past weekend was big for Harlem.
VIDEO: Azealia Banks’ Coachella Performance
VIDEO: A$AP Rocky’s Coachella Performance
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