Album hashtag: #princessofwitchhop
From her Twitter personality alone, Harlem femcee and TUA favorite Azealia Banks has been compared to all of the greats – everyone from Tupac Shakur and Jay-Z to Nicki Minaj and Lauryn Hill. After several delays, Banks has learned that making people feel uncomfortable is the best way to build your name in the spotlight. And that’s exactly what her critically-acclaimed debut album ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ does. There’s enough clever wordplay to push listeners right out of their comfort zone while remaining artistically intelligent throughout her rhymes. There’s enough quality vocals to have listeners reminiscing to the good ol’ days (aka Lauryn Hill’s ‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill’ album) without being taken as a copycat. With universal praise surrounding Azealia’s long-awaited debut, ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ is the best hip-hop release of the year.
The first ‘Broke’ single “Yung Rapunxel” is a short, futuristic number that features a homage to Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama”. As the electro-beat pulsates over Azealia’s verses, the song becomes larger than life despite being released well over a year ago. Second single “Heavy Metal And Reflective” features all bars and little theatrics from Banks as she spits the #futureclassic line “I be PYT, you Billie Jean / you been that ex bitch”. Azealia’s most recent single “Chasing Time” has found her receiving Janet Jackson and Left Eye comparisons – both very respectable artists who surely influenced Banks’ debut. “Time” hasn’t quite burned up at radio, with hoping that the physical release of the album next year could bring the song back to life.
In addition to the singles, there are other songs that Azealia has been raving about for years. Thankfully for her, those years of waiting were well worth the wait. The “Miss Amor”/”Miss Camaraderie” sequence was initially meant to be a double single release prior to being dropped from Interscope, but these two songs alone make up a good portion of the album’s greatness. “Amor” finds Banks alternating between rapping and singing, delivering bars that have some of the best wordplay you’ll ever find while crooning “pure, lovely aurora” on the song’s chorus like a daydreaming rebirth of Lauryn Hill. “Camaraderie” takes more of an electro route with its skip-stuttering chorus. Although the song borrows from her ‘Fantasea’ hit “Luxury”, the arrangement is possibly the best on the entire ‘Broke’ album.
All singles aside, there is just way too much excellence on ‘Broke’ as it cements a solid foundation as one of the best debut albums of all-time. If you’re unfamiliar with Banks, there are previously released songs “212” and “BBD” – both which contain some of her best bars to date. For those wanting new bars with a bit of a melody, “Ice Princess” and “Wallace” will exceed all of your expectations. For those wanting vocals, album highlights “Soda” and the Spanish (yes, multi-cultural) “Gimme A Chance” will show you sides of Azealia you never could imagine. And just when listeners thought it couldn’t get any more unique, there’s a Beach Boys-esque song about cultural appropriation (“Nude Beach A Go-Go”) that will change your opinion of the witty femcee. No matter how hard artists may try, the overall level of versatility found on ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ is unmatched in the music industry. Plain and simple, if you don’t get modern-day ‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill’ vibes from Azealia’s hip-hop vocal debut album, you’re not listening correctly.