By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
[Rough Trade; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Receipts”, “Flava”, “Different”
NOTE: This review of 1992 Deluxe will only discuss the newly released bonus tracks, not the original songs that came out last year.
Princess Nokia’s debut mixtape, 1992, was easily one of the best rap albums of last year. With hit singles like “Tomboy” and “Brujas” under her belt, Nokia (real name Destiny Frasqueri) made a name for herself in the underground by combining excellent trap production and flows with topics involving intersectional feminism, body positivity and the encouragement of everything female. After some of her music videos going viral and being considered for this year’s XXL Freshman Class, Nokia was signed to Rough Trade Records, announcing a deluxe edition of her acclaimed mixtape. Introducing eight new tracks, including the previously-released “G.O.A.T.”, Princess Nokia continues the story of her New York life that listeners fell in love with on 1992.
1992 Deluxe opens up with a brand new version of the mixtape’s opener, “Bart Simpson”. The original beat, a boom-bat instrumental that perfectly introduces Nokia’s “New York mood,” has been replaced entirely with a smooth, synth-heavy beat that sounds like it should be on an Anderson .Paak album. On paper, it doesn’t sound like a combination that would work properly, but the final product is a funky, experimental banger that changes the track’s environment almost completely, keeping Nokia’s lyrics of childhood and mischievousness intact. The rest of the original mixtape you know and love is pretty much the same, with the exception of the tracklist being moved around a little and the removal of the album’s closing track, “Tweety Bird Freestyle”, which was easily the weakest of last year’s album.
The new bonus tracks are filled with the boom-bat styles of “ABCs of New York”, “Goth Kid” and “Brick City”, three personal tracks that revive the sounds of old school New York hip-hop and put modern twists on them by adding improved production and a meaner bass. Nokia’s lyrics of her neighborhood, her experiences of abuse in foster care and riding the MTA are beautiful and imaginative, putting the listener in her shoes as you learn about the struggles of her childhood and what it was like to live in the Bronx. “Receipts” and “G.O.A.T.” are two braggadocios bangers that are overflowing with confidence and charisma. Reminding her audience that she’s one of the best currently spitting, Nokia’s self-awareness and exaggerations on these songs are perfect for creating an aura of self-positivity and high self-esteem that help spread her message of staying true to yourself and not caring about what other people think.
Two of the best tracks on the album’s second half are “Flava” and “Different”, which are so hard-hitting, it’s almost overwhelming. Being very rhythmically similar to the previously released “Kitiana” and “Mine”, the flows present in these two songs are addicting and energetic, keeping the album’s flow consistent and fun. The deluxe album closes with “Chinese Slippers”, which has a big west coast feel, thanks to a beat that has the catchiness of a Kamaiyah song.
These new tracks are not as mind-blowing as the original mixtape, but they help prove that Nokia is one of the most creative and original rappers currently working today. With a personal narrative and production style all her own, Princess Nokia makes 1992 Deluxe a whole new experience, even with the same songs you’ve listened to on repeat 20 times in a row.