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Album Review: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

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2012 was the year of Azealia Banks. ‘212’ was the song of that summer and she was the name on everyone’s lips for her honest and fresh approach to rap music.

Fast-forward two years and we find Banks in a completely different place, she no longer makes news and her relationship with Interscope records (and the the industry darling) has turned sour as a result of
 her unyielding social media demeanor.

Although her Twitter beef with the likes of Angel Haze and Iggy Azalea was entertaining, when she defended her right to call Perez Hilton a gay slur, the world started to turn their back on her.

So with fans losing interest due to the two-year delay of her debut record, she also had the the constraints of the label and their indifference to her new tracks to contend with. 

Luckily, Banks managed to escape the ties of her deal with Interscope and she was allowed to leave with all the rights to the songs she recorded whilst under their label.

This allowed her to unleash Broke With Expensive Taste this month to a somewhat muted release compared to the campaign surrounding '212'.

Its release was announced by a simple message on Twitter from Banks herself. We shouldn’t have expected anything else from the clearly frustrated musician. Banks self-released the debut album that was meant to be her initiation into becoming a major force in the pop world. But is there anyone left to care?

The answer is that people should still care about this record.

Its every bit as weird as you would expect, but this is what makes it charming. Never did I think I would be calling Banks charming, but her drive to create what she wants makes her all the more endearing.

The record is a mixture of familiar sounds with new and experimental ones, and this makes it exciting, despite it coming out two years after its initial release date.

The familiar comes in the form of Fantasea mixtape favourite, the garage-hour banger, ‘Luxury’. Alongside this isolated singles such as ‘Young Rapunxel’ and ‘Heavy Metal and Reflective’ have also made the cut.

Anyone who has followed Banks’ career so far will be familiar with some of the songs on the record, but it is the unfamilar tracks in which the listener can probably sympathise with the label for their uncommercial nature.

Opener ‘Idle Delilah’ explains where some of this dispute may have come from. It is a slow starter with a simple Caribbean drum beat leading into Banks’ vocals.

Some of this album could have lead into the en-vogue indie RnB that FKA Twigs is currently advocating, but luckily Banks keeps the tempo up and after the angelic chorus’ she returns to the rap goddess we all know and love.

Despite the odd raised eyebrow, these are the tracks that show Banks’ true inner creativity.

The experimental opener leads into ‘Gimme A Chance’, an incredibly funky number oozing of 90s hip hop. Her vocals are still firmly rooted in Harlem which keeps Banks’ originality throughout the record, a factor that may have been stripped if she had not left her record label.

This record is as much for her as it is for the fans that have seen it through from the early days. It is something she should be proud to call entirely her own, and I think the industry might just be able to forgive her for the past.

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