Azealia Banks delivers the most exciting rap release of the year so far with her EP, ’1991′.
Since pummeling her way into public consciousness last year with the undeniably catchy ‘212’, Azealia Banks, the rising rap outsider has become a fixture at fashion shows, collaborated with the Scissor Sisters and Lana Del Rey and has been involved in an impressive number of feuds (Iggy Azalea, T.I. and Lil Kim to name just a few). All of this with only one single available. This week Banks has unleashed her debut EP, 1991, serving up plenty more innovative rhymes, with house beats courtesy of producer pal Machinedrum and nods to New York’s gay underground vogue balls.
The sound of bustling crowds, ringing telephones and a sample of Paris Je T’aime’s ’14e Arrondisement’ all over a steady pulsating house beat, 1991 makes quite an entrance. Named after the year she was born, 1991 embodies the best of Banks with her franticly furious rapping and surprisingly soft RnB hooks (‘NY chose me, most high rose me’). ‘Liquorice’ is an anthem to interracial sex with Banks rapping ‘since you vanilla men spend can my hot fudge bitches get with your vanilla friends?’. Sweaty, but still sweet she coos: ‘can I catch your eye, sir? / Can I be what you like? / I could be the right girl’.
The song that brought us all here, ’212′ (named after her hometown Harlem’s area code) still packs one hell of a punch almost a year later. Over Lazy Jay’s bouncy electro dance beat, Banks unleashes a barrage of insults and challenges with lightning-fast speed as a cocky aural strut. A line like ‘I guess that c**t getting’ eaten’ isn’t usual fare for the Top 40 chart but ‘212’ has become a fixture on pop radio. Banks is easily one of the most exciting people in hip-hop right and now and she definitely knows it. She barks, ‘what you go’n do when I appear, when I premiere? / Bitch, the end of ya lives is near. This shit’s been mine!’.
Critics across the board have all too lazily compared Banks to Nicki Minaj. While Minaj has become the female face of rap music, her output is straight up dance-pop, more suited to Benidorm clubs than vogue balls. Azealia shares far more similarities with hip-hop heavyweight Missy Elliott. She embodies Missy’s combination of biting put-downs, smooth RnB crooning and shameless sexual energy. Banks’ full length debut, Broke With Expensive Taste, is due out a little later this year and we’re predicting that she and producer Machinedrum could become the closest thing to this decade’s Missy Elliott and Timbaland.
Go Get It: ’212′
Forget It: ‘Van Vogue’