Sunday, January 20, 2013

1991 | Azealia Banks

Rating: ★★★★☆

The name "Azealia Banks" has been flying around social networking sites and internet forums for a while, and I finally decided to see what this woman was up to a few weeks ago and instantly took a liking to the rapper. I stumbled across her songs "1991" and "212," and subsequently purchased 1991. After only a few listens of the extended play, I am actually pretty impressed with it.

I rarely listen to rap and hip-hop music and I'm actually quite surprised that I took a liking to Azealia Banks, but she has a very unique sound that has the ability to attract fans of many genres, whether it be fans of pop, electronic dance, or rap.

In terms of vocal ability, Banks has the ability to sound like a completely different person in each song of 1991. In one of my favorite songs from the extended play, "212," she has a younger, childish sound, while "Van Vogue" and "Liquorice" carry a bit of an older tone. The title track of the extended play, however, has the most mature sound of all.

While I like the vocals of 1991, it was the instrumental beats of the songs from 1991 that originally attracted me to Banks. All four songs from the extended play have great instrumental backings with a lot of electronic and house-style elements that help make the tracks completely infectious.

The instrumental tracks of "1991" and "212" had me returning to YouTube constantly to replay the songs, and after a few rotations, I finally started to pay attention to the details of the lyrics, as well. I quickly realized that Banks has an amazing ability to create lyrics out of extremely witty comments. Lyrics from "212" like, "Bitch I’m bout to blew up too / I’m the one today / I’m the new shit, boo, young Rapunzel / Who are you bitch, new lunch / I’m-a ruin you, c***" and "You got a lot, but you just waste all yours and / They'll forget your name soon / And won't nobody be to blame but yourself, yeah" just show that Banks knows exactly what she's setting out to be and is ready to fight for the high-ranking title in the music industry.

This massive level of self-esteem also leads Banks into some giant fights with other celebrities. According to the article "A Beef Breakdown: Azealia Banks Vs. Every Rapper, Oh, & Her Management," by Brittany Lewis, Azealia Banks has gotten into feuds with Kreayshawn, T.I., Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj, and most recently, Perez Hilton. Some people say that these arguments will ruin her career, but the fact of the matter is that all of the people listed are either irrelevant (Kreayshawn, T.I., Lil Kim) or universally hated already (Minaj and Hilton), so she's simply saying what everyone else has already been thinking.

Banks has even gone as far as writing, recording, and releasing a hate song towards Angel Haze called "No Problems." All of this attitude doesn't just stop there, though. In fact, Banks throws more shade than a palm tree throughout the entirety of 1991, although the hate isn't directed towards one specific person, but is rather used as a warning to everyone that she will be the top rap star at some point. I'm not going to try to judge to whether or not she will be reigning the hip-hop nation one day, but I can assure that at the current moment in time, I think Banks is a pretty impressive artist.

Fans of house-style and techno music, as well as rap and hip-hop followers, ought to look into Azealia Banks and 1991, because they will more than likely be just as impressed as I have been with this up-and-coming artist. The only problem that I can foresee is Banks' language in her music, as she frequently uses offensive words (especially ones beginning with 'c' and 'n'), but it's rap music; it's going to have a lot of 'colorful' language.

Azealia Banks will be dropping her debut studio album, Broke With Expensive Tastes, next month, and I'm sure I'll be taking a listen, especially after her impressive attempt with 1991.

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