Album Review: Azealia Banks—“Broke with Expensive Taste”

By Ayla Shiblaq

Look, I’m just going to say is like it is. Azealia, I waited three fucking years for this. Three. Years. In those three years, I got a high school diploma, navigated through nearly half of my undergraduate career, moved out of my house, and went through two jobs in the process. And this? This is what you give me?

To say the least, Broke with Expensive Taste was lacklustre in the light of the hype Banks had garnered. Since the 2011 release of “212” (yes, it was that long ago), I knew Banks had something going for her. With the follow-up release of 1991, a nearly flawless EP, the announcement of her working an a debut LP was going to shoot Banks into the spotlight, and rightfully so. Not only can Banks rap, she is an incredible singer, and has a presence that some of her fellow rappers lack, both male and female.

Album art for Broke with Expensive Taste

Album art for Broke with Expensive Taste

My opinion of Banks was positive up until her feud antics began. From a lost Disclosure collaboration to pissing off Baauer by remixing “Harlem Shake” without his permission to dissing fellow female rappers including Iggy Azalea to Angel Haze for no apparent reason, she really did hurt not only the possibility of incredible collaborations in the future, but places her “don’t give a fuck” to a region of immaturity. Banks, you’re talented, but a lot of people are sick of your shit.

I hoped she would redeem herself on the long anticipated Broke with Expensive Taste. Where her rap skills on Broke with Expensive Taste are up to an acceptable standard, it is by no means interesting. Her flow throughout the entire album sounds like “Van Vogue” was replicated on about ten out of the 17 songs on the album. In fact, most songs on Broke with Expensive Taste sound or somehow match up with a song she’s previously released — her singing in “Miss Amor” is reminiscent of “Atlantis,” and “Wallace” is reminiscent of “Chips.” Each of her songs follows the exact same equation: Banks sings, Banks raps about being better than you or having sex, music breakdown.

There are a couple of tracks that stand out — including the infamous “212,” “Yung Rapunxel,” “Heavy Metal and Reflective,” and “Bbd” — that remind me of how talented Banks is. Banks can integrate her rap and vocal talents, and she can make her rap match melodically with her sampling; however, the album is, unfortunately, mostly filler and would’ve been best to release as an EP or a mixtape.

Had Banks released this in a timely manner after her Fantasea mixtape, I think the hype wouldn’t have built up so high as to completely diminish this album. By no means is Broke with Expensive Taste bad — it’s just not particularly interesting.  For now, I find it difficult to truly defend her potential, because, in the end, this surprise release of Broke with Expensive Taste isn’t good enough to repair the bridges she’s burned down. Until Banks can stop relying on previously worked material and putting “212” on nearly every album she’s released aside from the Fantasea mixtape, she won’t be impressing anyone. (Capitol)

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