Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste

AZEALIA BANKS. Photo Credit: Rankin

Last weekend, New York-based rapper Azealia Banks unleashed her highly-anticipated and long-awaited debut album into the world with no warning. Considering how the 23-year-old has been wrestling with the record since 2011, one has to wonder whether it will still sound fresh and exciting as 2015 looms…

Broke With Expensive Taste isn’t merely a full-on rap album, it seamlessly flows through UK garage, deep house, hip-hop, dance, pop, grime and RnB. It is almost immediately apparent that, while creating an overarching 90s vibe, this record does sound as fresh and thrilling as anything you will hear this year and that Banks’ strong personality bursts to its fore and stays there from start to finish.

As is the often the way with albums of this ilk though, it is perhaps a little long. It also moves in some strange, and not always hugely successful, directions on occasion. The retro surf-pop sound of “Nude Beach a Go-Go” (produced by Ariel Pink) is pretty awful and sticks out like the sorest of thumbs. Elsewhere, the salsa and Spanish lyrics of “Gimme a Chance,” are an unusual turn. However, these interesting experiments illustrate Banks’ desire to stretch herself creatively and push her own boundaries. If there are any minor failures on Broke With Expensive Taste, they are at least bold and fun. And the fact that “Gimme a Chance” arrives so early in the album demonstrates that this artist wants everyone to know that she has several strings to her bow, which is admirable indeed.

The biggest test of whether this LP sounds fresh after all these years of false starts is the arrival of “212”. This is a song that has been played to death, heard a zillion times yet – just like an old friend you haven’t seen for a while who turns up at your front door and demands you immediately go out and get messed up with them – its arrival is both welcome and incredibly exciting. “212” is one of the great songs of this decade and its vitality, aggression, pace and energy will still make you want to dance, fight, fuck, even after all these years.

It may have taken its time to get here, but Broke With Expensive Taste is unquestionably worth the wait and once-and-for-all confirms Azealia Banks as an artist capable of delivering. Put this brilliant, exciting record in your ears right now.

Broke With Expensive Taste is now available on all digital platforms worldwide.

bobby townsend


Review by Bobby Townsend