"Back then, I was just writing rap verses," Blank says. "Now I sit down and write songs."
Indeed, Blank, a product of the hipster seaboard that includes resurging sounds from Baltimore (Debonair Samir), Philadelphia (Diplo and Switch), and New York (Santigold), has matured and stepped out with a solo debut, I Love You, which dropped in August on Downtown Records. On it, Blank steps away from her Baltimore club-flavored sound and takes a stab at more accessible pop. She even sings.
"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 'n' bass undertones, Blank sings as fast as she once spit rhymes. 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. "Big Heavy" has a disco snare and bell-bottom bass line that could have come straight from the DFA catalog. 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 (a nonalbum single, "Get It Now," retraces Heart's "Magic Man") 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 were African-Americans such as MC Lyte and Missy Elliott, she knows she's got 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."