Billboard is celebrating the 2010s with essays on the 100 songs that we feel most define the decade that was -- the songs that both shaped and reflected the music and culture of the period -- with help telling their stories from some of the artists, behind-the-scenes collaborators and industry insiders involved.
It can be tough to remember an era when Azealia Banks was known more for her music than her acerbic outbursts, and even more difficult to recall a world that existed before her debut single, “212.” But Canadian electronic musician Jacques Greene remembers those simpler times. “Azealia had moved to Montreal for the summer [of 2011], my friend was her manager at the time,” he says. “He asked us to show her around the city and we quickly became friends.”
Banks had been making music since 2008, bouncing around between affiliations with Diplo and XL Records with little to show for it other than an impressive demo version of an Interpol cover. “It was this funny thing where everything she did felt like it was immediately iconic,” says Greene, “but the day-to-day life of Montreal normalizes things to where she was also just ‘Azealia.’”