Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-06-22


Azealia Banks: 1991 (Interscope EP, 2012) Four tracks, 14 minutes of music, topped inevitably by "212" (and if you're not among the video's 20 million hits, succumb now). All of said songs top this eye-on-the-prize Harlemite's many other YouTube offerings, some of which might in turn sound dandy mixed into the mixtape and official album we are assured will soon-come. One might bitch about the chopped-and-screwed monologue that brings total time to 16 minutes, only it's funnier and more pointed than the Clyde Smith skits it bites from Ghostface. So 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. Quick-tongued, lascivious, catchy, and delighted with itself, there hasn't been a more pleasurable record all year and probably won't be--not even by her. A

Rye Rye: Go! Pop! Bang! (Deluxe Edition) (N.E.E.T./Interscope, 2012) Always defiantly thin both sonically and conceptually, M.I.A.'s best sidekick forever is an ideal conduit for a Bmore electro that doubles as the sound of ingrained urban poverty--a poverty complemented by a few throw-in anthems that use electronics to simulate affluence instead. Finally we've reached a tipping point resembling the riot grrrl moment of the early '90s, one in which every feisty hip-hop soprano has a you-go-illygirl edge on her notebook-toting male competitors. Selling point of the unfortunately download-only deluxe: two singsongy old M.I.A. collabs that drive the point home. B+

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