212 (song)

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Single by Azealia Banks featuring Lazy Jay
from the album 1991
Released December 6, 2011 (2011-12-06)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2011
Genre Hip house[1]
Length 3:25
Label Self-release
  • Azealia Banks
  • Jef Martens
Producer(s) Jef Martens
Azealia Banks singles chronology
  • "212"
  • (2011)
Music sample

"212" is the debut single by American rapper Azealia Banks. The song samples the track "Float My Boat" by Lazy Jay, who is credited on the track. The song was first released on December 6, 2011 in the United Kingdom as the lead single from her 2012 EP 1991, and is also included on her debut studio album Broke with Expensive Taste (2014).[2] The song is named after the area code 212 which covers the area of Harlem, New York where Banks grew up. In September 2011, the song was chosen as the Record of the Week by Nick Grimshaw on BBC Radio 1.[3] The song was included in many publications' end-of-year lists for 2011, being ranked at number 9 by Pitchfork Media[4] and number 2 by The Guardian.[5]

The song was also included in the latest edition of the book 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die.

Critical Reception[edit]

The song received universal acclaim, with critics complimenting Banks' versatile rapping style as well as her songwriting ability. The Guardian gave the song a positive review and placed it at number 2 on their The Best Songs of 2011 list.[5][6] In the review, Michael Cragg praised the song, calling it "a startling three and a half minutes of attitude" as well as "incredible."[6] Carrie Battan of Pitchfork Media complimented her "unpredictable vocal range" and wrote, "She clicks between characters and styles casually, effortlessly. No seams. A jaw-slackening demo reel."[7] NME dubbed the song #18 on their 50 Best Tracks Of 2011, calling it "mischievous, quick-witted and full of filthy cunnilanguage: it’s made Azealia Banks, the coolest girl on the planet, and it delivered on 2011’s forward-thinking promise."[8] NPR Music gave the song a positive review and listed it as one of their 100 Favorite Songs Of 2011, calling the song "the raunchiest shut-down of 2011."[9] Pitchfork Media gave the song its "Best New Music" accolade and ranked it number 9 on their Top 100 Tracks of 2011 list, writing:

So she's an internet novelty? Hardly. "212" works because its popcraft and its shock tactics are each other's Trojan horses-- concentrate on one and the other sneaks up on you. One reason "ruin you, cunt" feels like such a payoff is that Banks spends an entire verse of quick, unshowy rapping setting up its run of vowels. Banks uses the peaks, breakdowns, and drop-outs of Lazy Jay's bouncy "Float My Boat" to give her Minaj-style vocal-shifts some context: from sassy and chatty during the build ups to cartoon rage as the synths rear up around her at the song's end. If it were judged only on its visceral thrill, "212" would still be one of 2011's best, an unashamed banger in a mostly mid-tempo year. But the more you dig into the song, the more you can hear details and decisions that suggest a scary degree of pop talent.[10]

Music video[edit]

A music video to accompany the release of "212" was first released onto YouTube on September 12, 2011 at a total length of three minutes and twenty-five seconds. Directed by Vincent Tsang, the video is shot in black-and-white, and features Banks dancing in front of a brick wall and close-ups of her rapping to camera.[citation needed] In addition to Lazy Jay, the video also includes appearances by Québécois record producers Lunice & Jacques Greene. By March 2014 the music video had achieved over 86 million views on YouTube.

In popular culture[edit]

Since its release, "212" has been featured in the season one finale of the HBO show Girls and several films, such as The Heat, The Bling Ring, A Long Way Down, Skins, and Pitch Perfect. The song was most recently used on an episode of Cuckoo.[11][12][13]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[14]
  1. "212" – 3:25



Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[29] Gold 400,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
United Kingdom[14] March 16, 2012 Digital download Polydor
Canada[30] April 24, 2012 Interscope
United States[31]
United States[32] June 5, 2012 Rhythmic contemporary radio


  1. ^ Wood, Mikael (June 18, 2012). "Aural Fixation". Paper. Paper Publishing Company. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ Banks, Azealia (February 21, 2013). "Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved February 21, 2013. I've written ALL new material for this record..... Except for 212 lol. 
  3. ^ "Zola Jesus Fresh Off Stage". BBC. September 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Top 100 Tracks of 2011". Pitchfork. December 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "The best songs of 2011". The Guardian. December 19, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Cragg, Michael (September 27, 2011). "New music: Azealia Banks – 212". The Guardian. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  7. ^ Battan, Carrie (October 14, 2011). "Azealia Banks: "212"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  8. ^ "50 Best Tracks of 2011". NME. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ NPR Music Staff (December 14, 2011). "NPR Music's 100 Favorite Songs Of 2011". NPR. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ Pitchfork (December 12, 2011). "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Heat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". iTunes. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Bling Ring (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". iTunes. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  13. ^ "All Songs In Pitch Perfect". IndieWire. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "iTunes – Music – 212 (feat. Lazy Jay)". iTunes Store (GB). Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. 
  15. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing 30th April 2012" ARIA Top 100 Singles. National Library of Australia. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  16. ^ "ARIA Urban Singles Chart – Week Commencing 21st May 2012". ARIA Charts. Pandora Archive. p. 17. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay – 212" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  18. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay – 212" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  19. ^ "Azealia Banks Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Euro Digital Songs for Azealia Banks. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "Chart Track: Week 16, 2012". Irish Singles Chart.
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 14, 2012" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  22. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-04-14". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  23. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-04-14" UK Singles Chart.
  24. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-05-12" UK R&B Chart.
  25. ^ "JAAROVERZICHTEN 2012: Singles" (in Dutch). Ultratop (NL). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  26. ^ "JAAROVERZICHTEN 2012: Dance" (in Dutch). Ultratop (NL). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 2012" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 2012". BBC Radio 1. December 31, 2012. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  29. ^ "British single certifications – Azealia Banks ft Lazy Jay – 212". British Phonographic Industry. July 22, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2014.  Enter 212 in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  30. ^ "212 (2012) | Azealia Banks". Canada: 7digital. Archived from the original on July 19, 2013. 
  31. ^ "212 (2012) | Azealia Banks". United States: 7digital. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Top 40/R Future Releases". All Access. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]