Azealia Banks, 1991 (Edited Version)
A momentum-preserving stopgap until her debut
Azealia Banks’s “212″ was a ruthless knock upside the head when it hit the internet in late 2011. The single merged camp, bravado and stylistic proficiency in a way that jolted house hedonists and b-girls alike — hip-hop as fashionista theatrics. It also sent new-artist hype and the attendant expectations through the ceiling, which makes the 1991 EP an ideal momentum-preserving stopgap until debut full-length Broke With Expensive Taste.
The three tracks that accompany “212″ expand on the sharp-tongued Banks’s breakthrough single with production that owes even more explicit debts to the sounds that pulsed through clubs in her titular birth year: the Machinedrum-produced “1991″ and “Van Vogue” wring a minimal-gone-maximal dynamic out of classic house from Cologne to Chicago, while the Lone-sourced “Liquorice” sews shredded-up rave tracks back together and parades them down the catwalk. And while Banks gives some shine to some diva vocals — her sung hook on “1991″ is both understatedly sophisticated and shot through with solid-platinum poise — she still rides a beat and spits darts like a vintage mic controller.