Usually when it comes to discovering new artists, I always trust BBC’s Sound of the year lists, and for 2012 a girl named Azealia Banks from Harlem, NY was nominated (and made it to 3rd place) along with other artists like Michael Kiwanuka who ended up in 1st place, and my personal favorite, Frank Ocean, who made it to 2nd place. Back then when the list was released I kept an eye on Azealia Banks’ music, and as time progressed I started to hear her single “212” in the radio stations. Then I saw her perform in Coachella 2012 and I was like “Okay, this girl could easily be the next big thing, where’s her debut album?”. Well, we have the 1991 EP which only consists of 4 songs that expose Banks’ style and lyrical abilities as a girl rapper.
The album starts off with “1991“, opening verses in French, this would seem like the girl version of “Niggas In Paris” without going to the extremes of luxurious, paying homage to New York City, holding her own when it comes to the girl rap game while being true to herself: “came in the game with a beat and a bounce/never for the fame, my feet on the ground“.
The next song is “Van Vogue“, paying homage as well to New York but also to the vogue ball culture in the city that in my opinion heavily influences Azealia’s style. From the first time I heard “212“, at first I thought it was a British rapper, think again, a New Yorker with an agressive flow that instead of saying “cake” is going all out and saying “cunt”, rapping along with a beat that seems to be taken out from a DJ’s set. No wonder why this song got so popular in Europe, it has the club banger effect and a whole bunch of profanity to make it cool within the hip-hop genre.
The EP finishes with “Liquorice“, in which a fearless Banks raps about being that sweet and black girl (like liquorice) that is only looking for men that are rich and is anything but shy about it, the best part of the song is the hook which is, yes, catchy.
The most admirable aspect of Azealia Banks’ is her flow when delivering her rhymes, some of her songs have vocal hooks that balance them out very well, and as I listened to 1991 my biggest issue (if it was an issue at all) was to keep up with what she was saying. Agressive, versatile and with very danceable beats, she could definitely be on her way to be a major superstar. However, according to recent reports, it seems like Azealia is quitting rap, it seems like she’s going to focus more on being a vocalist and part of the dance genre that suits her well. The rapping was what made me like Azealia in the first place, but I could totally see her be succesful releasing similar music with the usual rap on some songs. Azealia is definitely taking one for all the girls and the LGBT vogue community, so you better start thinking now “what you gon’ do when she appears?“