Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste

It might not have taken as long as Philea to land on Rosetta, but the wait over two years for Bank’s debut LP, has been highly anticipated, side lined, dismissed, and then almost forgotten until Bank’s finally dropped the LP on iTunes on November 6th.

Delayed countless times since the LP’s original release date of March 2012, Broke With Expensive Taste’s overdue appearance, provides less of the expected cheer and applause, Banks may have expected (although the cries of ‘YAAAAS’ on Tumblr speak otherwise). But to top it off, with 212 making an appearance, Bank’s is still attempting to drain some form of credibility from the track, which addresses the entire album with much harsher speculations than it would have back in 2012.

With one mixtape, several singles to her name, including the thumping Liquorice to the less desirable ATM Jam, then to the magnificent 212, Bank’s work has dissipated in her brand of ‘witch-hop’. But the dizzying heights of her debut, break-out single 212, have never been reached by any following single and Banks has never really seemed to try and achieve another 212 either.

The lead single from Broke With Expensive Taste, Heavy Metal and Reflective, exemplifies Banks’ preference of house over mainstream acclaim, focusing on deeper progression rather than upbeat, two piece productions. Bank’s alternate approach to her recognised anthem, stems from her performances on each track. Heavy Metal and Reflective plays on near jungle beat rhythms, hooked with underline EDM bass tones, while the 212 singer releases her monotone lyrics, like kerosene soaked whips, ready to ignite in the choruses, where high pitched, bouncing, electronica slices add a change in tone into this under 3 minute, house filler.

Similarly, opener Idle Delilah uses a regularity found in UK garage/jungle music, in place with Bank’s New York swagger, for a fusion of sub-tropical reggae and contemporary garage.

However, the essence of Atlantis is un-ignorable on Idle Delilah’s opener. While the bass pop may continue for 40 seconds or so, in comparison to Atlantis’ 8 second opener, the structure of Idle Delilah would fit comfortably in Atlantis’ flow of motion. Equally on Miss Amor, beat progression with the change of tone in the melody for the chorus, in sync with the nearly identical choruses (in terms of execution and pitch), creates a near mirrored rendition of Bank’s past work Liquorice as well.

Bank’s rebranding of past tracks isn’t her biggest downfall on Broke With Expensive Taste, when in comparison to Nude Beach A-Go-Go, her rebranding becomes acceptable. The most un-needed track on an album ever, Nude Beach A-Go-Go’s only attribute to Bank’s entire LP, is the display of her vocal skills, dismissing the monotone pitch premise that many place with Bank’s vocal style. The drawbacks of Nude Beach A-Go-Go easily outweigh its strengths, making Bank’s credibility dissipate further.

The tampering into UK post house genres does work sublimely on several tracks across Broke With Expensive Taste however. JFK, BBD and Ice Princess, all execute the style that Bank’s aims for with her post-90’s house sublimely. Each differing in some variation to the latter, JFK follows a simplistic, semiotic beat with Bank’s vocals gliding effortlessly between rapping and singing, while BBD follows a style more easily relatable to house, garage music, with pounding drum beats and high pitched, mechanised, electronic sound slices, that dissect BBD into cut throat verses and twisted, dark choruses.

Of the three, Ice Princess is the clear champion, as Bank’s abrasive, outlandish personality, bursts through all four (metaphorical) walls, fully exposing you to Bank’s digs about how she ‘go and take yo man’ or how her name is Bank’s because she ‘can loan money’. Even the whisks of a winter breeze anchor the tracks abrasive manner, with seamlessly misguiding chimes, opening up for a chorus with a sound more frequent in the mid 2000’s hip-hop scene.

On Broke With Expensive Taste, it’s impossible to not feel interpellated with the title itself. The common clutter of Idle Delilah, Miss Amor, even 212 are boring, tasteless, and have been done repeatedly for the broke. The fresh cut lines of Ice Princess, BBD and Heavy Metal and Reflective are Bank’s expensive taste. Sadly, Bank’s seems to prefer Target over Versace.

4.0

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