Review Summary: Blank by the numbers.
Amanda Blank is about as cool as it gets - and boy does she know it. As she spits out into the chorus of the utterly brilliant “Gimmie What You Got”, she is, and has been for some time, practically the ‘hottest motherfuc
ker on the whole damn block’. And why not? With a debut album Produced by Diplo, XXXChange and Dave Sitek (of TV On The Radio Fame), and having been touted as the successor to the likes of M.I.A. and Santogold, Blank’s brand of furious electro-rap has got some serious weight pulling for her success. After all, this is the girl who made her grand entrance to the music world with the lines “I’m a trashy boastful bitch MC/ ma romps are tastefully fresh/ ma pussy’s tastin’ the best” – off Spank Rock’s criminally underrated YoYoYoYoYo
. Of course, the best part was that she seemed to be able to live up to it too, going on to share mikes and turntables with the likes of Ghostface Killah and Yuksek and aiming straight for the heart of her audience, saying before the release of I Love You
: ‘I get worried ‘cause sometimes I feel like it’s not weird enough for the indie weird scene and it’s not pop enough for radio… I’m really toeing the line between homegirl and artfag’, which is exactly, unfortunately, about where exactly where I Love You
The thing is – and this is important – I Love You
doesn’t run aground because it’s a run of the mill electro-rap album – It’s not. It does so because it’s a run of the mill Amanda Blank album, the sound of a street girl so comfortable in the alleyways of her musical neighborhood that she’s unwilling to step out of it. After all, it’s not like the ideas aren’t there; they are, but they just aren’t given the space to grow before fading away, neglected by the love and nurture that I Love You
so brazenly splashes across its own name. Take a song like “Something Bigger, Something Better”, which might have almost been one of the record’s defining tracks, pulsing as it is with subtle beats under the cool sway of Blank’s low vocals and dazzling flow, dripping with more attitude than anything else here. No such luck though, as Blank milks every ounce of quality and has the song wonder aimlessly (as cool as its swagger is) towards an empty plain of ridiculously lazy songwriting. It’s the exact same problem that plagues opener “Make It Take It”, or even the abysmal “Make Up”, with it’s dull plodding channeling the dry dreariness of an Uffie song.
Of course, if you’re looking for a true measure of what Blank has always been about, there’s no going past lead single “Might Like You Better”. Having done the rounds on the internet hype machine, it’s the most barefaced expression of everything Blank - and just about as polarizing as the girl herself. Hinging itself on the
lyric of Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never”, Blank’s wickedly aggressive delivery of “I might like you better if we slept together” is drenched in a haze of distorted electro warp and chop change beats, leaving all subtlety for dead and reveling in its celebration of horny excess like no other. It’s blunt and it’s raw, and resting firmly within the love-it-or-hate-it circle of the rest of Blank’s tunes. On the flip side, her take on LL Cool J’s “I Need Love”, billed here as “A Love Song” and taking it’s cue from Santogold, sits uncomfortably among the rest of I Love You
’s repertoire of big, dumb, cornfield tunes as Blank hangs her heart on the line singing J’s line: “for the first time in my life, I see I need love… Then the thought occurred, tear drops made my eyes burn”. As one of the album’s strongest songs, coated with a fine measure of Diplo’s tender mixing, it also serves to stick out, sore thumb and all as a testament to I Love You
’s rather muddled pacing. Its sad, if not just flat out disappointing, if only because I Love You
ends up coming off as a collection of b-sides to a non existent record that promised to be the freshest sound of one of Philly’s most exciting breakout female rappers. Blank by the numbers, blank’s the result.