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1991 - Azealia Banks - 2012

Favorite Tracks: honestly, all of them; there’s only 4

Azealia Banks has a lot of issues; I’m well aware of that fact. I know all about the hate and controversy, from the transphobic comments on the internet to the cat broth and brujeria. And even though I think she needs to watch her mouth and choose her words carefully, I have also seen how wickedly and heinously the media (both traditional and social) has treated her, well beyond the level of reprimand for the things she has done. But in my eyes, I see Azealia Banks as a true visionary; someone who isn’t afraid to explore all aspects of her talent and personality, being strong enough to persevere even when the odds are against her. Her spirit is undeniably creative and innovative, not succumbing to the stereotypes and tropes of many of today’s rappers. She makes music for people on the “outside,” and I truly appreciate that effort.

1991 begins with the titular track, 1991. When I first heard it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It started off like a House track that I would’ve found on one of my dad’s old CDs, so I was caught off-guard when I heard rapping that seemed more like off-beat talking at first. But as the beat came in, everything started to flow together beautifully, and I found myself bobbing my shoulders along to the beat (the lady speaking French in the background being a lovely touch). It wasn't too long after, that I learned all of the lyrics for the song (and I still remember them to this day). I’m not sure what the significance of the year 1991 is, but I imagine it's the general vibe of the era that Banks was trying to capture, especially with the beat that’s reminiscent of many early-90’s House tracks. To my knowledge, she seemed pretty on the mark with it.

The second song on the EP is Van Vogue, which in my opinion, is the cuntiest track on the album; I just feel like a baddie whenever it comes on. But where this song truly shines is after the beat fades away. I was expecting that to be the end of the song, but after the radio silence, I was greeted by a digitally altered voice of Banks herself. She is just going off, talking her shit as usual. I think my favorite part is when she tells us (or whoever she’s speaking to) to “lemme get some of that komboochie drink, bitch!” (obviously making fun of the trendy “kombucha'' beverage. It still gives me a good chuckle, even today.

(editor’s note: when I spelled “komboochie” the computer actually autocorrected it as “kombucha.” Also, kombucha tastes like an awful concoction of fertilizer and rat poison; I don’t know how people drink it.)

212 is probably the most famous (or infamous, depending on how you remember it). It’s definitely a fun, upbeat track that contrasts itself from the typical stuff you’d hear on the radio at the time. I remember hearing this song a couple times randomly on the internet, but I never realized who sang it until I picked up the album years later. But probably the most infamous reason why this song is known is because of a bold young lady by the name of Giovanna Plowman (I’ll spare you the details here, but if you’re really curious, just go and google her. (It’s pretty grody stuff though, just to let ya know.)

The EP’s final song, Liquorice, is an upbeat and energetic song, with a twist of bite and sass, hence the name. Honestly, I really enjoyed the video for this song (honestly, all of the videos are great, go check them out). The aesthetic was just the right amount of cheesy; you could tell that she was having fun with this song. Overall, I feel that the entire EP (and her following album, Broke with Expensive Taste) show the true breadth of her ability, redefining and expanding the Rap genre as a whole. Classic AB at her finest.

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