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Album Review: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste (2014 LP)

Azealia Banks is everywhere of late. unlike most celebrities this is because of 10,000 small beefs with people rather than one massive scandal. She challenged Eminem to fight her after his newest cut featured a threat to beat Lana Del Ray, she pioneered the term 'Igloo Australia' in reference to not everyone's favourite Mullumbimby local and a little closer to home explained that 1 of her 3 Australian midshow dropouts was the fault of the Stone Roses. She'd be a polarising public figure even without the skill to back up her shtick, but thankfully with her long awaited debut album Broke With Expensive Tastes she backs up her talents.

Immediately Azealia sets the album's tone with 'Idle Delilah'. The trap beat sounds out like a pulse while Bank's apathetic voice weaves through your eardrums as she spins a narrative as unsettling as the track is fierce. And even faster than it came, that fierceness is cut off with the next track. Bank's monotone anger instead turns into a smug mocking and the production overpowers the rest of the track. It's at this point that the album reveals itself to be a whiplash creator as it spins and takes the same tone as Delilah all over again.

This effect isn't all that unexpected. Broke With Expensive Taste had been in the making for 3 years and creating a constant tone for that long is a nigh impossible task. Unfortunately with the way the album is laid out, the tone is broken like dropped glass whenever there's so much as a track change, which is a shame considering how organic and unique Banks's flow is through the album.

Seeing as her mixtape is in length while her 1991 ep is, well, an ep, it's no great leap to say Broke With Expensive Tastes is Banks's longest work to this day. The problem is that when listening to the album that fact becomes really believable. Songs trail on for just a bit too long or feel like filler altogether, which ultimately just bogs down the real gems lodged in the album like the everloved '212' and 'Idle Delilah'. It's kind of ironic to think that all this three year in the making album needed was a little smoothing around the edges, but here we are.

That's not to say that the album is a bad one. The production on the moodier, darker tracks will keep you dancing stupidly around until you're about to pass out, where the subtle additions will show themselves and melt your mind. Along with this is Banks's flow and voice which is unlike anything else in the scene right now. There's also her lyrics which, while vulgar at the best of times, paint brilliant imagery of the things you may not have wanted to see. Just know that if you're going to listen to Broke With Expensive Taste, there may be some at home construction needed.

Review Score: 5.9 out of 10.