Playing Games with Azealia Banks

by: Kevin Sparrow

A new age has dawned for the female MC, with ever more women taking up that mantle or additional roles in crafting hip-hop music and utilizing their talents to branch out into other genres. Azealia Banks is a 20-year-old Harlem-raised rapper and singer who has quickly grown a following through YouTube and other social media as well as the attention she is grabbing from designers as a fashion icon. Banks uses archetypes from the history of hip-hop–explicit sexuality, threats of violence, highlighting luxurious livin–but plays with them in engaging new ways. Having publicly acknowledged her bisexuality via The New York Times, Banks often cites homoerotic actions–sometimes favorably, sometimes pejoratively–and ultimately queers the conception of a female MC by directly preempting the lesbian rumors many female hip-hop artists encounter throughout their careers.

“Jumanji” is Banks’ most recent single to promote her upcoming mixtape, Fantastic, and EP, 1991. Due to the release of this catchy and bouncy tune, I’ve been thinking over how Banks’ playful treatment of her genre easily translates to the world of board games, which transport our journeys to colorful and clearly detailed paths. Below are examples of how some of Banks’ other tracks might translate to cardboard and plastic forms:

212: During the duration of Banks’ breakthrough single, she mentions she was “in the 212” but never says where. The board game version would be akin to Carmen San Diego wherein players must discover where in Manhattan’s 212 area code is Azealia Banks–the Museum of Modern Art? Tribeca? a house party? It’s up to you to find out!

Gimme a Chance!: Outwit and outspit the likes of Nicki Minaj and T.I. in this fast-paced trivia game. Make sure to land on the Chance! spaces for an opportunity to jump ahead in the game.

NEEDSUMLUV: An updated version on the Mystery Date or Dream Phone phenomenon; find out the identity behind the mysterious social media handle “NEEDSUMLUV” and if they are your perfect match.

F**k Up the Fun: For adults only. A party game with personal questions designed to find out which of your friends are the kinkiest.

Seventeen: Be the first to collect all MAC cosmetics, Gucci purses and aviator glasses before the clock strikes midnight on your 17th birthday.

Kevin Sparrow is a Chicago writer who is interested in Queerness is both a favorite subject and pastime. His education in movies-writing has proved that he is adept at powering up computers and elementary keyboard use. Sparrow’s short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in that order in Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly and LIES/ISLE, as well as on the website Be Yr Own

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