Azealia Banks 1991

Azealia Banks1991
On 1991, last fall's viral rap wunderkind and hip-house revisionist Azealia Banks manages a feat that takes most rappers the better part of a career to master: the perfect marriage of bangin', club-friendly beats and smart, crisply delivered lyrics. As an MC, Azealia Banks is remarkable in a number of ways. In an age of slowed-down swag rap and hash tag punch lines, Banks has two speeds: fast and exceedingly fast. Her bars rip past at a breakneck speed, which becomes even more impressive when you realize that the rhyme schemes on songs like the title track and "Liquorice" are as complex as anything else out there. The production is entirely 120-plus beats per minute house. "Liquorice" is straight-up, classic acid house, the instrumental sounds like it could have been recorded in 1988, only to be unearthed by Banks later and "Van Vogue" is sort of minimalist funk, with syncopated beats and spooky keys. Manically happy, infectiously danceable and too clever by half, if 1991 does one thing, it proves that Banks's breakout hit, "212," was no fluke. (Polydor/Universal)