Azealia Banks: 1991
- In a world in which female hip-hop is shaped ridiculously by the likes of those with huge personalities and questionable talent (see Nicki Minaj) it's pretty refreshing when an Azealia Banks type pops up. She's worked herself into a position to make an impact on this most egregiously boys-club bit of the industry. Azealia Banks knows all about the boys-club, doesn't give a damn, and though her first official release, the 1991 EP, has only four tracks, she uses her 16 minutes well and is quick to make an impact. It's probably not the best comparison to make, I've got a mix of ignorance and lack of good examples going on, but I'd say she's got the brains of Jean Grae, that ball-busting, feminine force of Missy Elliott and a tickle of that early M.I.A. spunk. She takes that stew and willingly heads off the beaten track. The good news for us is that the results are just about better than the sum of the parts, and that's really, pretty good. 1991 is quite a ride considering it's length. Banks embraces this throwback, upbeat, house-rap, a modern day Queen Latifah, trying to rein in Kid n Play's exuberance at the Pajama Jam - coincidentally a film that came out the same year as Banks was born, you guessed it, 1991. Probably the 3rd best year in the 90s, after 93 & 95, years that I may well have to re-visit with the possibility of moving in permanently. If more people did that it'd change our current world situation for the better. We could have a thousand Azealia Banks by the time I'm done changing things around here. Banks may not have the impact on the world that I'm planning, but she's an inexcusably exciting and fierce presence, a female MC that can hold her own, refusing to fall in to line, and not because she's all that liberal or politically minded. She's just a good representation of what a woman can do in 2012 and that looks a little out of place because of the aforementioned hip-hop sausage-fest of the last, uh, 30 years or so. Azealia Bank's debut album Fantasea comes out in like 2 weeks so it won't be long til we can suss out whether she's the real deal or not, but if 1991 is anything to go by there's a pretty good chance it'll be badass. The opening and title track, uh, 1991 is as good a place as any to welcome the world to Azealia Banks and hopefully will be just the appetiser to a very sumptuous meal, coming our way soon.
- Jay Edwards.