Princess Nokia is her own woman throughout 1992 Deluxe
“My little titties and my phat belly, my little titties and my phat belly, my little titties and my phat belly.” The refrain heard on “Tomboy” is one of the most self-assertive lines of the year, yet it merely blends in with the rest of Princess Nokia’s empowering lines on 1992 Deluxe.
Originally released as a free mixtape in 2016, Nokia remastered the project and added eight new tracks to give it the full album treatment. To her credit it’s still a cohesive listen through, blending modern trap influences with an old school New York feel to pay homage to her hometown.
She sounds the most at home on the Wiki-assisted “Saggy Denim,” effortlessly rhyming over a soulful beat while infusing ’90s fashion culture into her lyrics. When she switches from the boom-bap to the 808s, however, Nokia’s habit of leaning towards short, simple catch phrases don’t have quite the same effect on the listener. The second verse on “Mine” is particularly atrocious, relying on a bland rhyme scheme that cuts off all momentum as even the beat behind it flees the scene. It’s a shame; the song carries an important message glorifying the various hair choices of colored women that are often looked down upon.
Princess Nokia has a lot to say throughout 1992 Deluxe, taking full ownership of her own identity with confidence. There’s only a relative handful of women in hip-hop and even less of them of Puerto Rican descent, so Nokia spares no effort in uplifting her culture on songs like “Brujas.” The booming beat alone would make it one of the standout tracks, but prideful bars asserting her background bring the heat to another level. “ABCs of New York,” the first new song on the album, honors the lifestyle of those back in her city, from the underground vogue scene to the undercover cops patrolling by.
Much of 1992 is about the untold story of Nokia’s heritage, but she takes time to delve into and dissect her own psyche as well. “You have no clue how I live / to foster care, abused as kids,” she raps on “Goth Kid,” tracing her demons back to her childhood and putting her dark mindset on display. Lines like “I’m goth as fuck, even when I’m not in black / Gothic is the pain you feel and not the clothes that’s on your back” cut deep, with her emotionless voice only adding to the moment.
The darkness comes to a head on “Goth Kid,” but the same sentiments are present from the intro track “Bart Simpson.” With few lyrical gymnastics on 1992 Deluxe, the storyline does get a tad repetitive as the album progresses. On the original nine song mixtape the clock runs out before the material grows stale, and if the eight new songs were packaged together separately they would likely benefit from the same effect. Still, Nokia’s coming with missiles, and the fact that she stays longer than she needs to doesn’t diminish their destruction. There’s not many rappers out there telling Nokia’s story; the extra length just makes it that much harder to ignore.