Azaelia Banks’s long-awaited debut sounds surprisingly fresh and fierce
Released 6th November
Oh Azealia. You’ve been such a problem child. 2012, when we were all so endlessly hyped up over her 1991 EP and this fierce new female MC seems like aeons ago, and our memories of you since then are so tainted with your numerous twitter blunders – proving time and time again that even the most talented rappers should sometimes think before opening their mouths (or hitting their keyboards, whatever.) The label troubles weren’t your fault, but Broke With Expensive Taste was pushed back so many times that we all started to doubt it’d ever come out. All in all, the experience of being an Azealia Banks fan became so exhausting that most of us ceased to be them. But now it’s finally here, and it’s time to give her a second chance.
My main reservation going into this album was a suspicion that it’d sound horribly dated – however good a track it is, 212 is certainly past its moment, and I was expecting a whole album of it. It’s on this point in particular that she proves us wrong: BWET is fierce and undeniably fresh-sounding, thanks to Banks’ energy and her excellent ear for beats, many of which come from names familiar to anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time in thumping basement nightclubs. Opening with Pearson Sound and closing with a double bill from our own Lone with a whole host of other names on the way, the production is so on-point and unique that even 212, a fossil in pop years, gains a new lease of life in its context on the record.
It’s always nice to get a pleasant surprise in the pop world, and Broke With Expensive Taste is certainly one. There are a lot of brave decisions on this album, and while not all tracks hit the mark and the record is over-long, a lot of those decisions show off a side of Azealia’s personality that’s far preferable to the one she became notorious for showing off on social media. It’s a good reminder that taking a gamble on greatness is better than settling for okay, and hopefully she’ll be rewarded for it as much as she’s suffered for her blunders in the past.