by Leo Sipowicz
I'm that Black a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba
Destiny Frasqueri, the twenty-five-year-old New York rapper who performs under the name Princess Nokia, dropped her first hip hop mixtape, titled 1992, in 2016. She followed it up in 2017 with a extended studio-recorded LP called 1992 Deluxe. 1992 has ended up being one of my top albums of 2017 and has been a refreshing change in the currently dull New York hip hop scene. The album talks about issues Destiny has experienced like racial and gender inequality, as well as having its fair share of more common hip hop topics like growing up poor and flaunting wealth on songs like ‘G.O.A.T’.
Princess Nokia combats difficult issues in her songs, but she stands out with some crazy impressive and diverse flows throughout the album. On the entire project she never settles down on on a single flow, and on pretty much each track she switches up the cadence based on the topic of the track. On the second and third tracks of the project, ‘Tomboy’ and ‘Kitana’, Princess Nokia raps in this quick, bratty, frantic voice that perfectly conveys the topic of the songs. On both of these tracks, Destiny talks about not fitting in with classic feminine stereotypes and also being confident in who she is. ‘Tomboy’ is all about owning who she is and not caring about what other people think. ‘Kitana’ is a fight song about doing what you want and not caring what other people think. The song is titled after “Kitana” a character in ‘Mortal Kombat II’ that was one of the first woman characters you could play as in a video game which reflects how Nokia feels about her impact on the music industry.
Still, 1992 Deluxe received disappointing reviews like a 6.2/10 from Pitchfork and a 77/100 from Metacritic. These reviewers mainly have beef with with the slightly generic beats and the lack of continuity throughout the album and how uncomfortable she sounds on some of the beats. While I understand some of this criticism, I still think thats what makes her sound unique and so different from almost any release this year. I also think the mixtures of beats and flows she executes on this album perfectly describe who she is as an artist, she identifies with so many different groups that I think the mix of beats and flows makes sense. This diversity is what makes the album so beautiful to me and I can't imagine her doing it any other way.