Recently, there’s been a pretty noticeable lull in female rappers. The 2000s sort of just rolled on by without a great female MC to man (pun intended) the controls. Then, in 2010, Kanye West went and made himself a pretty much perfect album (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), and decided to feature Nicki Minaj on “Monster.” Say what you want about Nicki and her tepid radio hits, but you sort of forgot that there was anyone else on that track as soon as she took over, spitting out “You can be the King/But watch the Queen conquer.” Just like that, the dry spell was over.
Now, Nicki isn’t the only crazy color in the metaphorical box of rap crayons; seemingly out of nowhere, 20-year-old Azealia Banks came crashing out of Harlem with one of the year’s best singles, “212.” Now, at the ripe-old age of 21, Azealia is releasing her debut EP, 1991. And while it’s clear through the four songs on 1991 that this is an artist who is clearly still working to forge her own path, what a path it’s going to be.
Four tracks may not seem like enough, but Azealia doesn’t take long to declare herself as rap’s newest ‘It’ girl. “212” is on the EP, and even though the song has been around for a while now, it hasn’t gotten old yet. One part sick rap song, one part pure dance track, it’s a ridiculously good anthem; the kind of jam that would make New Yorkers in all boroughs throw their hands up (I’d much rather hear Azealia rap about pussy than hear ‘Empire State of Mind’ one more time). It could be a little vulgar (she uses the ‘c’ word more times than you can count) when you think about the fact that this girl is barely out of her teens; but Azealia, who is openly bi-sexual and makes no bones about who she is, is the sort of person who just doesn’t give a fuck– that’s what makes it real. And isn’t authenticity the most necessary quality in any genre of music?
Title track “1991” follows in the same vein as “212,” with a pulsing beat, handclaps galore, and more fast, fierce rapping on Banks’ part. 90s R&B and dance influences are clear on “Van Vogue” and “Liquorice,” which add fuel to the Azealia fire and leave us wanting more. On the former track, she raps about Chipotle, Forever 21 and refund checks from NYU. It’s times like these that you are reminded that she’s barely legal. But just because you might own some sweatshirts that are older than Azealia Banks, doesn’t mean that she’s not a bad-ass bitch. On 1991, she delivers four songs that alert you to the coronation of a new Queen.
3.5 / 5 bars