If you know me personally, you’d know I haven’t been the biggest supporter of Azealia Banks recently. Before we get into an album review of Broke With Expensive Taste, I wanted to point out some context surrounding the album itself and why I think it’s important to listen to it.
When she first came out with her best known single to this day, “212″, I was very into her sound and aggressive approach to rap and pop. However, after a long string of hateful Tweets directed at other artists, some of whom I’m a fan of, I was turned off of her music completely. In the last few weeks, an interview between the rapper/singer and Hot 97 appeared on my video suggestions and I decided to give it a listen. What I heard completely changed my opinion of the artist yet again.Banks literally cried as she explained why she says the things she does. It has nothing to do with jealousy and a lot more to do with justice. I did not realise how severe some racial issues in the music industry were until the “212” star choked up and made sure she got to say what she needed to say. What the interview essentially exposed was how the general public do not see how ideas and successes from black artists are torn away from them and given to white artists, who then “take the glory”. You can watch and listen to the full interview here to educate yourself on why her argument is so important. Although I don’t think ranting on Twitter at people is the best way to go about it, I can understand her pain and how she feel like she’s not being listened to.
Now, back to the album! I bought the album from iTunes and had very high expectations considering the album has been delayed and pushed back since at least March 2014. Fortunately, I was very happy to find that the album is pretty fantastic. It is packed with upbeat, intense sounds and is a well-rounded, musically diverse, adrenaline pumping album. There are some definite hits on the album and a few tracks I’d happily skip over but sitting and listening to it straight through is still enjoyable.
Musically, the album is rich in house-pop, hip-hop, trap and R&B with flares from traditional styles from other musical cultures. The opening tracks on the record are a great selection to ease yourself into the whole album but it really kicks off when you reach track 4, “212”. It reminds us of what the Harlem-based musician is capable of in terms of intensity. My personal favourite tracks at the moment are two singles from the album; “Ice Princess” and “Yung Rapunxel”. “Ice Princess” has heavy verses with a cool, smooth chorus that I adore. As “Yung Rapunxel” ends the ear-punching beat slams into rhythm and brings the adrenaline back up a notch. The highlight of the song is not only the shrieking vocals in the chorus, but the heavy trance/house synths in the second-half of the track.
I invite everyone to first watch the interview linked above before listening to the album to unlock another dimension to the experience. It doesn’t just become about good music, but about justice for artists no matter what their skin colour or background. It’s important to listen to what artists have to say about issues like racial issues and to understand struggles that are still being swept under the rug in the music industry.