|EP by Azealia Banks|
|Released||May 28, 2012|
|Genre||Hip hop, house, dance|
|Azealia Banks chronology|
1991 is the debut extended play by American hip hop recording artist Azealia Banks. It was released in the United Kingdom on May 28, 2012, and in the United States the following day. The extended play's lead single, "212", preceded its release on December 6, 2011.Follow-up single "Liquorice" was released on December 4, 2012.
The EP was not eligible for the UK Albums Chart, but the title track charted at 79 on the UK Singles Chart. It also reached 133 on the US Billboard Hot 200 on the issue dated June 16, 2012, while reaching 12 on the Rap Albums chart, 17 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and peaked at number one on the Heatseekers Albums chart. Upon its release, 1991 received general acclaim from music critics.
Under the moniker 'Miss Bank$', she released her debut recording "Gimme a Chance" onto the internet in February 2009. The recording was accompanied by "Seventeen", a track produced by American DJ Diplo which sampled the Ladytron song of the same name. Later that year, Banks signed to record label XL Records and began working with producer Richard Russell; leaving the label later that year due to conflicting ideas. Following her departure from XL Recordings, Banks left behind the 'Miss Bank$' moniker and formally became Azealia Banks, which preceded a move to Montreal. Using YouTube as a portal, Banks uploaded several demo tracks—including "L8R" and a cover of "Slow Hands" by Interpol. In September 2011, Banks released her debut single "212" as a free digital download from her website, which was subsequently released officially on December 6, 2011 as the lead single from one of Banks's future releases.
Though unsigned at the time, Banks began working with British producer Paul Epworth on a debut studio album. It was announced in December 2011 that Banks would feature on "Shady Love", a track from American band Scissor Sisters' fourth studio album, though the feature would remain uncredited. An accompanying music video was released in January 2012 following its radio première from Annie Mac (BBC Radio 1) on January 4, though the release of the single was cancelled for unconfirmed reasons. January 16, 2012 saw Banks release the track "NEEDSUMLUV (SXLND)" on the Internet, coinciding with what would have been the thirty-third birthday of the late singer Aaliyah, who is sampled on the track. A week later saw the emergence of a second track entitled "Bambi", which having been produced by Paul Epworth, had been selected as the soundtrack for a Mugler fashion show in Paris. It was then in February that Banks revealed the tentative title of her upcoming debut album, Broke with Expensive Taste.
Originally scheduled for release on April 17, 2012, the release of 1991 was delayed following the musician's change of management on April 13.The extended play's artwork and track listing was then published online on May 15, with confirmation that 1991 would first be released on 28 May in the United Kingdom. The project was released digitally on May 29 and physically on June 12 in the United States, she announced via Twitter.
The original track listing featured three tracks: the single "212", "1991" and "Grand Prix". The track listing was then updated, following the delay, to a four track extended play - instead featuring the tracks "Liquorice" and "Van Vogue" in place of "Grand Prix".
The extended play's lead single, "212", was first released in the United Kingdom on December 6, 2011. The track, which samples and credits "Float My Boat" by Lazy Jay, attained chart success in Europe; reaching number seven on the Irish Singles Chart and number twelve on the UK Singles Chart.
"Liquorice" was released as the second single on December 4, 2012.
1991 received general acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, it received an average score of 84, which indicates "universal acclaim", based on nine reviews. Allmusic editor David Jeffries noted Banks' "lyrical wonder" and called the EP a "short house-rap blast".He commented that Banks "acts as if she had been raised at a classic N.Y.C. loft party, one where you kept dancing and dissing", and found its production "nostalgic [...] as if this EP fell through the cracks of the Paradise Garage's sweaty disco floorboards and then evolved in some alternative and fierce universe." In his consumer guide for MSN Music, Robert Christgau cited "212" as the EP's highlight and quipped, "I hope this is the dancey hip-hop Nicki Minaj's haters claim to miss and know full well it's too effing dancey for 'em—not to mention too virtuosic, beatwise, layered, less-is-more, and much."He described 1991 as "quick-tongued, lascivious, catchy, and delighted with itself" and wrote in conclusion, "there hasn't been a more pleasurable record all year and probably won't be—not even by her."
Although he found it somewhat inconsistent, Alex Macpherson of Fact compared Banks favorably to Missy Elliott and stated, "while the quality of the music remains disproportionate to the hype, it does make her bratty rejection of the rap establishment feel that much more thrilling." Will Hermes of Rolling Stone wrote that its four tracks "spin hip-hop backwards and forwards" and concluded, "More, please." Pitchfork Media's Lindsay Zoladz called it "another example of Banks' versatile skills" and stated, "the half-statement of 1991 reminds us that Banks is still an artist in her development stage." Chris Dart of Exclaim! found Banks' "fast" rapping "remarkable" and commented that she "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."
The album was listed at #30 on Rolling Stone's list of the top 50 albums of 2012. Time ranked 1991 as the 9th best album of 2012.
|Australian Urban Albums Chart||18|
|US Billboard Hot 200||133|
|US Top Heatseekers Albums||1|
|US Rap Albums||12|
|US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||17|
|United Kingdom||May 28, 2012||Polydor Records||Digital download|
|United States||May 29, 2012||Interscope Records|
|June 12, 2012||CD|