ALBUM: Azealia Banks ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’

“Why procrastinate girl?” Azealia Banks asked herself in her debut single ‘212’ and 3 years later we’re still asking the same question. You can’t forget it wasn’t all down to her, with her label pushing the release back from early 2012 due to worries over the record, but after leaving Universal earlier this year we can now all take a chance with her anti-pop on Broke With Expensive Taste.

It doesn’t take long to realise why her label were so averse to the record with opener ‘Idle Delilah’. Banks takes haphazard xylophone beats fixed together with Caribbean style rhythms but with her not giving a shit attitude about it being commercial or not, they strangely work well together. Keeping up the tempo, she asks us to “Gimme A Chance” whilst switching between English and Spanish. It’s as if she’s thrown everything she loves into one track, from salsa breakdowns to vintage vinyl scratches and is almost like she’s bringing out the multiculturalism of her home of New York but putting her own take on everything to keep in line.

‘Despardo’ seems like a bad fit in the track listing, tampering with her glam-rap composure with the big focus left on her sampling of MJ Cole & Danny Vicious’ ‘Bandelero Desperado’. The beginning of the record seems like a long wait til the notorious ‘212’ which began the loud-mouthed New Yorker’s career. Still keeping the same two-finger approach it had in its heyday, it can’t help but stay as one of the best tracks off the record making it clear that Banks hasn’t changed from the years of record label disputes; she’s still the controversial, argument starting rapper she always will be.

Seeming more like the sort of track that could reach heights in the charts, ‘Wallace’ provides those already familiar with Banks with even more of the persona’s she can offer. The tracks that follow question who she was aiming these for. ‘BBD’ hollers at her “bad bitches” whilst the skulking pace of ‘Ice Princess’ wanders into pleasing any other realms of rap she might have missed out. Title track of Banks’ life ‘Yung Rapunxel’ highlights again her nonchalant stance on being in the public eye. “I wanna be free” she chants, “so tired, tired of this drama” hinting to her controversial feuds with artists ranging from The Stone Roses to Iggy Azalea – she might be tired of the drama but the drama keeps on coming.

Teaming up with Ariel Pink for ‘Nude Beach A Go-Go’, it seems like the distant cousin on the album having nothing in common with the rest. Although filled with get down and dirty lyrics, the fake 50s surf pop overlaid with girl power vocals soon get left behind with the return to hefty beats in ‘Miss Amor’ and ‘Miss Camaraderie’. Finishing off referencing Disney princesses doesn’t make her seem like the most serious rapper but it’s Azealia Banks – who cares?

Broke With Expensive Taste is the most confusing album you’ll hear this year and with the 2-year long wait, it brings to mind the amount of time Banks had to make it all work. Even though she’s still got that badass façade, she isn’t afraid to sway away slightly to make reference to Sleeping Beauty just after rapping about “c*nts gettin’ eaten”. It may have taken a while to get the go ahead to finally free the record, but it’s eventually been put together in such a way nothing fits together. Then again, Yung Rapunxel might have just gotten away with it.


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