Album of the week: Azealia Banks

Broke With Expensive Taste

Three years into our wait for Azealia Banks’s full-length debut, we were wondering if it would ever come out. Broke With Expensive Taste, however, is fully realized, bold and assured. 

As it turns out, her debut smash single, 212 – now three (!) years old – was a pretty good harbinger. Airtight, no-holds-barred rhymes like “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evenin’ / And fit that tongue tongue d-deep in / I guess that cunt gettin’ eatin’” were no fluke. Neither was the dance floor gold: BWET is as much a dance record as a hip-hop one. JFK and Chasing Time owe much to 90s dance, and Ice Princess trades a Dr. Dre-like beat on the verses for a Kylie Minogue-esque chorus. 

Thanks to its diversity, the 16-song record (some previously released) never feels bloated: the tracks could be love letters by the Harlem native to all the cultures jamming in the Big Apple. Opener Idle Delilah has a distinctly Caribbean groove Gimme A Chance shines with brassy merengue (and sees Banks deftly switching to Spanish) and Desperado throws some jazz-fuelled New York City boom bap in the mix. She even channels Grease and the Beach Boys on the clever Nude Beach A-Go-Go (produced by Ariel Pink, natch). 

Bonus: Banks’s oft-employed singing voice is as versatile and strong as her rapping one. 

Top track: Gimme A Chance 

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