A Mixed Bag
An ambitious swath of diverse tracks that eschews traditional radio-friendly singles in favor of funky introspective tunes, Azealia Banks’ debut is an impressive showcase of versatility and innovation.
Take the first track, “Idle Delilah.” The song starts with a groovy beat, adds a riff on guitar, inserts some monkey noises, all while Banks paints a vivid picture of Idle Delilah, the daughter of a white slave owner who was killed by her father’s slaves. Even with the heavy topic, the song bounces along, sounding like something from a party DJ’s catalog.
Many of the tracks on the album share this sporadic quality, their genre and style shifts as horns, pianos, and turntables all jump in and out of the mix. Banks weaves in stories of a lavish lifestyle, romantic endeavors and anything else that pops into her mind. This leads to silly tracks like “Nude Beach A Go-Go,” a playful jam encouraging attractive people to head out to the beach. Even in her most pop-centric tracks, Banks manages to fit a little bit social commentary. In this case, “Black women’s attraction / All the white girls join in the action,” a playful jab at how sex and race interplay.
While her brutal honesty and aggressive character make for great wordplay, her lyrics can’t compete with the variety in the production. A few tracks in the middle demonstrate the lull, especially when stacked against the standouts. “BBD” and “Chasing Time” just have too much going on to fully take in. With that said, occasionally the multitude of noise comes together in a mix that’s very enjoyable, such as with lead single “212.”
Just as Banks’ valid points on Twitter are buried by distracting tangents and gossip, Broke with Expensive Taste occasionally loses its way when all the raps and styles start to play on top of each other. It’s fitting that Azealia Banks has produced a monster debut that occasionally bites itself in the tail. Even if a few tracks fall victim to being overproduced, Broke with Expensive Taste manages to come out as one of the most unique projects in recent memory.