Review Summary: Back to crash the party
It’s probably better to look at Broke With Expensive Taste
as an unexpected treat, rather than deride it for coming so late to its own party. Less so fashionably late, more stumbling in vomiting at 4am. Still, the final release of Azealia Banks’ début LP is a little like receiving a Christmas card in April, or finding a Mars Bar on a bench. Nearly three years ago it seemed like Azealia may blow into a superstar. Yet delay after delay has pushed her début LP further and further under the radar, and without a library of material to excuse her like Kanye West, her brazen personality has alienated many of her potential fans. The signs were ominous. Many wondered whether the album would ever even see the light of day. Many no longer cared.
The production takes a darker turn from the shuffling hook of “212” that made Azealia a household name, but its hip house style keeps a cohesiveness the whole way through. Punching 4x4 beats, together with itching basslines and Banks’s enticing rapping fuel a menacingly claustrophobic atmosphere throughout. It’s easy to imagine these songs, with their tight hooks and groovy beats, pumping out the sound-system of a small back-alley nightclub at 4am. Add in tight song-crafting, and Broke With Expensive Taste
is full of potential hits. “Yung Rapunxel”, taking inspiration from Zebra Katz’ underground hit “Ima Read”, is an aggressive slice of hip-hop with the creative spark to calve an inspired hook from Azealia’s distorted screams. JFK expertly weaves together her different vocal styles, “Heavy Metal and Reflective” invites itself onto the dancefloor and Ice Princess boasts the kind of huge chorus we weren’t sure Azealia Banks could produce again.
Nowhere, however, does Broke With Expensive Taste
outdo itself as much as on “Desperado”. M. J. Cole’s garage-influenced production and stunningly sparse, hypnotic beat inspires the best out of Azealia, who oozes her presence throughout the song. We were starting to give up on her, but Broke With Expensive Taste
’s release is not just a relief, but encouraging proof of Azealia’s vocal and songwriting talent. It’s easy to forget Azealia is only 23, and her début LP feels like it may finally restore her place as one contemporary hip hop’s biggest prospects.
Just ignore “Nude Beach a Go-Go”.