Zebra Katz & Azealia Banks at Leeds Met Uni Review

The question ‘Is the library still open?’ is a fairly straight forward one – it’s not one you’d perhaps imagine to send a large group of students into a beer-raising, chanting frenzy. But that’s exactly what happened last Wednesday, when Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxx opened the Leeds stop on the  Fantasea Tour  the Met Union. Their track ‘I’ma Read’ – an underground hit that’s flirting with the mainstream has been doing the rounds at TQS for a couple of months now – it’s pulsing, threatening beat and razor sharp lyrics have us reaching for the repeat button every time.

Zebra Katz ft. Njena Reddd Foxxx – Ima Read from RUBEN-XYZ on Vimeo.

On stage, the chemistry between Katz and Foxx is electric – half vogue off, half effortless rap battle they command the stage and whip up the crowd brilliantly, whilst simultaneously seeming like a pair of pissed best mates on a night out. Katz reminds us of a cooler, NYC version of Bloc Party’s Kele, whilst there’s no comparison for Foxx, whose gymnastics were also a highlight – anyone who can maintain a flow whilst leaning backwards almost 180 degrees gets points from us. Thoroughly underrated, and perhaps more entertaining than the tour’s headliner, we just hope that Katz and Foxx get the recognition they deserve, before it’s ripped off by a desperate Natalia Kills producer.

The second support came in the form of DJ Cosmo – we didn’t see much of him to be honest, but the bits we did see seemed pretty good – he knew his audience (mainly white students), and played for them. Standard mid-week night out fodder, with occasional flashes of something unknown, which slowed down the atmosphere ever so slightly, but gained a bit more kudos.

Azealia Banks headlined the show, courting the stage in a light up bra and mermaid-coloured weave that we may have gone a little crazy for. Bad sound in the venue meant we couldn’t hear as much of her as we’d as perhaps liked, but regardless we were blown away by her vocal ability. Banks – who has an astonishing ability when it comes to rap, seems to prefer to fit her vocals seamlessly into the backing track (like a 90’s hiphop version of shoegaze), which made her set a lot less crass then some of her contemporaries (Nicki Minaj, for example).

1991 – Azealia Banks from Britnay Shears on Vimeo.

That’s not to say she’s a musical wallflower – it means that she’s able to move the crowd to great heights without the need for drops or a dubstep breakdown, which is what pop is becoming more and more reliant upon (Britney – looking at you). That is, of course, with the exception of ‘212’ – much of Banks’ set felt like a warm up for this show closer – you can see why – the crowd went considerably mental from start to finish. Sure, the song is brilliant, but let’s hope it doesn’t force her work into more radio friendly formatting – we’ve seen it happen before with the likes of Dizzee Rascal, and we’d hate to see it happen here.

Find Zebra Katz, Njena Reddd Foxx and Azealia Banks on Twitter.

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