By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Twenty-six-year-old MC Amanda Blank is still trying to get past her Married... With Children moment. On indie-rap crew Spank Rock's celebrated 2006 debut, YoYoYoYoYo, she contributed the following lines in honor of Christina Applegate's alter ego: "See, I like my ass sassy/I keep my man happy/'Cause I ride like Kelly Bundy/Yo I keep that shit nasty." For years after, that reference in the song "Bump" stalked Blank nearly everywhere Google's search spider found her. She became that nasty girl rapper.
"It's been a few years since they made that album," Blank says. "Back then, I was just writing rap verses. Now I sit down and write songs."
Indeed, Blank — a product of the hipster seaboard that includes resurgent sounds from Baltimore (Debonair Samir), Philadelphia (Diplo and Switch), and New York (Santigold) — has matured and has now stepped out with a solo debut, I Love You, which dropped this past August on Downtown Records. It is one of the year's most anticipated indie-dance albums, alongside Kid Sister's October debut. On the LP, Blank steps away from her Baltimore club-flavored sound and takes a stab at more accessible pop. She even sings.
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"If people want to hear my Baltimore club style, they can buy a mixtape," Blank says. "This album is about loud, poppy songs. Melodies and harmony were a lot more important to me."
On "Make It Take It," a snappy track with drum and bass undertones, Blank sings as fast as she once spit rhymes. Though she hails from rap, the track paints from a punk-like palette, her choruses bending upward in a sustained siren call. A cover of Romeo Void's "Never Say Never" brings Blank back to her booty-bass vixen role, albeit without the up-tempo grooves of B'more or the Auto-Tune of clubland. "Big Heavy" has a disco snare and a bell-bottom bass line that could have come straight from the DFA catalogue. And Blank is masterful in her deconstruction of LL Cool J's "I Need Love," which she calls "Love Song."
Blank, with a wardrobe of metallic, neon, and glitter, skates between bad-boy addict and ball-busting heartbreaker. You can track her white-girl-rapper lineage from Deborah Harry to Princess Superstar to Peaches. And although she says her true influences are African-Americans such as MC Lyte and Missy Elliott, she knows she has to prove herself.
"I remember seeing Peaches years ago in Philly, and she came out completely alone, without even a DJ, and she did the entire show by herself. I was totally captured by it," she recalls. "I don't need the help, either. No background dancers or singers. For two months, I've been doing that. I want to prove myself."