By Bryce Spadafora @bryce_spadafora
Azealia Banks surprised fans and critics when she released her debut album Broke with Expensive Taste on Thursday. Following a trend set by artist Beyoncé Knowles last year, Banks released the album with little promotion and without giving her fans a set release date.
While Broke with Expensive Taste may be Azealia Banks’ debut album, she is no stranger to the spotlight. In 2011, Banks released “212,” a sharp and edgy track that proved Banks was capable when it came to good lyrics. The following year, Banks released her EP 1991 along with the 18-track witch-hop mixtape Fantasea. Both projects received amazing reviews from music critics; however, just when it seemed Banks was becoming an unstoppable force in the rap industry, she took a brief hiatus.
In 2012, Banks confidently announced that the album Broke with Expensive Taste would be released in the fall of 2013. Critics started to question whether or not Banks would deliver when the anticipated release date was pushed to January 2014 and again as far as March 2014.
Banks blamed the multiple delays on her record label Universal Music Group.
In January, Banks took to Twitter stating, “I’m tired of having to consult a group of old white guys about my black girl craft…I’m literally begging to be dropped from Universal.”
Tension between Banks and Universal escalated to the point that, by March, she threatened to leak the album on April 15th. It wasn’t until July that Universal finally dropped Banks for good.
Fortunately for Banks, Broke with Expensive Taste proves that it was worth the wait.
The album features several singles that loyal fans will recognize. There’s the iconic “212,” a track full of confident, assertive lyrics and a sample from Belgian DJ Lazy Jay’s “Float My Boat.” The witch-hop single “Yung Rapunxel” is featured on the track list, too. Also included is the recently released trap hit “Heavy Metal and Reflective” as well as an older track of Banks’ titled “BBD.”
The album features new tracks that are on par with Banks’ previous work. One of these is “Ice Princess.” Banks is known for her confidence – two factors that come to play throughout the track. Lyrics like “Competition I’m a beat it so relentless / I’m a be legendary when I end this” along with a cut from Morgan Page’s “In the Air” complement each other flawlessly. The result is a chilly and cutting flow that demonstrates Banks’ ruthlessness in the rap game.
The only downside to Broke with Expensive Taste is the track “Nude Beach a Go-Go.” It’s fun, beached themed lyrics are a radical departure from previous tracks. It breaks up the trap heavy album and even seems a bit over the top. Overall, it feels like a bad parody of a Beach Boys song. Banks is capable of far greater work, but she missed the mark with this one.
One bad track doesn’t ruin an album, though. Whether you’re a die-hard Azealia Banks fan or have never heard of her before, there’s bound to be at least one track on Broke with Expensive Taste that you will be rapping to yourself daily. Azealia Banks had found her place in the rap industry; after this album, she doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.