Released: 5.29.2012 (US)
Introducing Azealia Banks: she’s not as hipster as you think; but she’s definitely more ghetto than you would give her credit for after watching the viral video for 212, her smash European hit. New, beautiful, stylish, and talented; this new rapper prays to the same fame-giving god to which Lady Gaga prays. If you can’t get them to pay attention to the music for the music’s sake, then get them to pay attention just because they CAN’T. LOOK. AWAY.
This New York-native has been fusing house and hardcore rap since 2009. This EP of four songs, two new and two old, is long overdue. It doesn’t go unnoticed that she isn’t flooding the market with a full album of tracks, hastily thrown together in the hopes of gold. This seems like an effort to get you to really pay attention to each track, give it its due and appreciate it fully before skipping to the next song. There isn’t filler, can’t be with only four songs. Compare that to Nicki’s last effort and suddenly, this fresh face is fresh air to a stale music scene.
Azealia has a very M.I.A. sensibility when it comes to beats, by which I mean she comes with sounds unexpected and, at times, more unnerving than her lyrics. Hallow drums, island rhythms, synth riffs, throbbing bass, auto-tune and echoes all infiltrate just the first song, . Considering the girl will only be 21 this year, she’s got a very pointed POV and one alluring with dirty sensibility and a rough urban aesthetic no doubt found exotically American by our European counterparts.
She talks about my generation like a professional sociologist with a dirty mouth and an attitude problem. College kids spending their refund checks at Whole Foods, drinking white wine instead of Hennessey, trying to be “white” by which I really hope she means upwardly mobile middle class, because it’s far from a race problem in 2012.  remains the standout track, even six months after its release. From hardcore rapping to Amy Winehouse blues during the… pre-chorus, (Bridge? It seems to refute pop song structure, which I for one, LOVE.) to a stuttering, self-described claustrophobic beat she pulls a rousing showstopper.
[Liquorice] features a pulsing house beat, snares and shows off the jazzy vibe of 90s house. It’s older but very worthy of this EP. “I’m the Liquorice Bitch; you know I’m looking for these niggas if these niggas is rich.” She proclaims during the chorus. Once again referencing race, this song focuses on her sex appeal, but mostly shines with the multi-track vocalizing in the background softening the sharp edges of the beat while showing off a versatility that will hopefully serve her better than it has other female rappers. [Van Vogue] is a clapping number with dog barks and an unexpected ethereal quality which heightens a barren, even desolate subject matter of throwing up the deuces to love and the machinations of virile love. She also pops a middle finger to the women who fall into the trap without getting the cash. Diamonds are a girls’ best friend, after all. The outro after [Van Vogue] is one for the books. Everyone under the age of 25 should hear this and think long and hard about their lives. She talks about “real shit”. It is one of the cores of the artist that is Azealia Banks.
She is hardly one to stay backstage; Azealia Banks’s debut album Broke with Expensive Taste is planned for release sometime this year, but with record labels and legality, who knows how fast they’ll be able to push it. I’d hate for her to lose momentum. Overall, 1991 shows a futuristic female rapper, pushing beats and ideas new to the rap scene. The most iconic shot from the 212 video probably sums up Miss Banks, she’s shouting into the ear of a hot hipster guy about how she can fuck up his world and he’s just nodding his head, unaware of the coming apocalypse. I’m so ready for the fire, Azealia, so burn it down.