The long-awaited debut EP from this Harlem MC is four tracks – including her breakthrough single, "212," and more shit talk than you'd get at a Friday night nail salon – that spin hip-hop backward and forward. Banks kicks things off with chatty Franglish rhymes, but she also quotes A Tribe Called Quest and spits fire over bulbous deep-house jams cooked up by progressive Brooklyn producer Machinedrum. More, please.
Coming on the scene like a whirlwind of Santigold, Nicki Minaj, Grace Jones, and that killer remix of the Jungle Brothers track "I'll House You," Harlem rapper, singer, and "Liquorice Bitch" Azealia Banks made every "cool," "one to watch," and "wow" list that mattered in 2011, thanks in part to attractive tracks like "L8R" and her smooth cover of Interpol's "Slow Hands," but mostly because of "212. " That New York-loving, tribal house monster with a Nina Simone-like break in the middle winds up on Banks' debut EP, clawing and kicking the competition to the curb with more cuss words than Scarface (and that's two-plus hours vs. three and a half minutes) and brilliant boast after brilliant boast ("You could see I been the bitch since the Pamper," with everything else being unquotable in mixed company).
Though it's only been about six months since the release of Azealia Banks's debut single "212", the room's still trashed from when she first stormed the scene. On the strength of that one track, the hot-shot Harlem-based MC with a slyly aggressive flow became not just a rising star but a boundary-busting symbol of hip-hop's ever-changing mores. While some listeners gasped at the supposed audacity of Rihanna's suggestive chant, "cake cake cake," Banks, grinning, was like, "cunt, cunt, cunt." Around the time Ye and Jay were extolling jet-setter excess on Watch the Throne, Banks drummed up the sort of publicity you can't buy thanks to a charismatic, low-concept video shot on a DSLR.
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.