Better late than never, after several online disputes with her record label and almost every other artist under the sun, Harlem native Azealia Banks finally releases her debut effort, Broke With Expensive Taste. The #ATMJAM female rapper who teased fans with smaller scale projects two years ago (both the Fantasea mixtape and iTunes EP release 1991), attempts to reclaim her place as the princess of Rap.
Building a substantial buzz with her rap rhythms and braggadocios lyrical content over multi-genre style instrumentals, long time fans – including Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg – are greeted by the rapper-turned-singer taking her turn on some calypso on opening track “Idle Delilah“. The rapper, who rose to fame with the help of her Lazy Jay assisted stand out single “212”, continues to explore her musical tastes across the entire collection of work – swaying between UK Garage in the MJ Cole sampled “Desperado” and closing track “Miss Camaraderie“, and a hefty dose of House throughout the mix, sticking to her international appeal.
The ‘hottest bi**h on the block’ does manage to strip away the electronic synths, and goes for a brass horn-led head nodder entitled “Gimme A Chance” right after her introductory track – continuing on to reveal some well awaited fresh material. Miss Banks’ online demeanour did not hinder her from getting the chance to work with a few familiar names – including Theophilus London who joins the lyricist to show off his talent on the Boddika-produced track “JFK“.
Now, if you’re looking for non-stop hardcore rap rhythms with a hint of feisty female attitude, you will come up short, with the Araab Musik-produced track “Ice Princess” being the only full rap effort made by the Harlem native. However, those who know and love the experimental, quirky, house-rap and nostalgic 90’s groove that Miss Banks introduced to the world on singles “Yung Rapunzel” and the MachineDrum-produced “Luxury“, will run through what Broke With Expensive Taste has to offer with ease.
The only issue that works against the female rapper’s favour is the timing of release and lack of promotion – with the album and the artist herself gaining permission to be set free from her label, taking much longer than expected. Banks took to her Twitter to reveal her album via an iTunes URL link on Thursday, November 6, with no prior notice and not much of a following for her single “Heavy Metal and Reflective” that barely made a mark on the charts, landing at #40 on the UK Indie charts. In addition to that, the majority of the album features much older material that we have all come to enjoy, learn off by heart and mentally throw away.
The late release is made obvious as you make your way through the album and you can’t help but be brought back to the summer festival scene – which the album unfortunately missed out on completely both this and last year. As Christmas is just around the corner, Broke With Expensive Taste sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the other album releases during this particular season. This, however, could work either for or against the rapper as she has just released a visual for “Chasing Time” – the second single to come from the album itself and continues to stand out amongst the rest with her eclectic style.
Despite being gratefully received by publications such as The Guardian and Spin, the album itself didn’t perform so well in the charts during its first week of release – landing at the number 30 spot on the Billboard charts. On the flip side, loyal fans will be very much impressed with the catalogue of work, overall treated to contagious head-bopping beats accompanied by the no-holds-barred Azealia Banks the world knows and loves – or loathes. The big question that comes to mind is ‘was Broke With Expensive Taste worth all the fuss and wait?’ With the sun fully hibernated for the year and preparation for the next festival season on its way, it could be said that it’s a little too late. We hope her sophomore effort doesn’t take as long to arrive as her debut.