Azealia Banks begins “212” rapping over an uptempo breakbeat, then slips in and out of squeaky electro, changes cadence completely, sings a syrupy pop interlude, and ends without breaking sweat. It’s a hip-hop tour de force that’s impossible to take in with just one listen. Like Missy Elliot or Nicki Minaj, Banks sees rap as a gleeful performance act, where she can shape her rhymes to coil around any beat that comes at her. There’s a chilled-out way that Banks inflects the word “dude,” that somehow manages to become one the best hip-hop moments I’ve heard this year. Like Minaj, Banks attended La Guardia High School of Performing Arts and has a similar preternatural ability to do anything she wants, whenever she wants (her young career has already seen her on a Major Lazer EP and covering Interpol). The point is not what she can do, but what she decides to do. Hopefully it’s more tracks like “212.” (Azealia Banks via Pitchfork)
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