Princess Nokia’s Twin Album Releases Are Sweet and Fierce
With “Everything is Beautiful” and “Everything Sucks,” Princess Nokia explores the tethered ambivalence of her brain-space.
Mar 6, 2020
New York-based artist Princess Nokia takes it back to grade-school desks and PB&Js with her two latest albums: “Everything is Beautiful” and “Everything Sucks.” From her ‘90s inspired 2017 album, “1992 Deluxe,” to the goth-metal feel of “A Girl Cried Red,” Princess Nokia continues to fearlessly experiment with different musical influences through projects as blended as New York’s cultural footprint.
Every song, cadence and beat is referential, pregnant with the vestiges of the genres, emotions and influences. On “Everything is Beautiful,” you can hear New York summers, 90s cartoons, femininity, youth and all the nostalgic keeping Nokia up at night. The borrowed flows and soulful beats mesh together to give us Princess Nokia’s authentic rhyme, an ode to the outcast. On “Gemini” she raps “And all the famous rappers got a sign like me / And all the famous rappers got a heart like me / But I know that I’m different and they’re not quite me.” The threads sewing this album together tug on the kid inside all of us, creating and visualizing new realities from the songs our parents play and the vernacular of our hometowns.
As the album progresses, it casts off the overalls and Kool-Aid jammers for late-night blunts and taxes. “Wash & Sets” exhales the traumatic realization that, yes, bills are real and paychecks disappear faster than direct deposits. The chorus, “Wash and set, pay the rent / Wonder where all my money’s spent / College debt, I am stressed” speak to everyone who’s ever been bogged down by bills. Its beat calls for confrontation, but its verses scream tiredness, hardly allowing Princess Nokia to let out her stress via an exhale.
Like “1992 Deluxe,” Nokia continues to write while deeply nostalgic for her younger days. The most evident examples being the beautiful odes to her Puerto Rican heritage: “Soul Food y Adobo” and “Wavy. ” She celebrates brown skin, Puerto Rican culture and the African diaspora. It’s a sentiment that’s much needed in the current polarizing political state of the U.S. Yet, as beautiful as the world can be through the eyes of a child, monsters still sleep under the bed.
“Everything Sucks” is a middle finger to all the frustrations of the aforementioned state of the nation. Unlike the airy, optimistic spiritual journey of ascending through life on “Everything is Beautiful,” “Everything Sucks” says “screw that!” Nokia spends the album snatching her haters’ wigs and dragging them through the mud in tracks like “Practice” and “Gross.” “B-tches with clout love to think that they better/ Accomplished sh-t that you b-tches could never,” Nokia raps in “Practice.”
Princess Nokia continues to claim her space as a trendsetter who doesn’t need the approval of generic pop charts and Instagram followers. She’s authentic and raw, consistently pouring out her soul for artistry’s sake. An intention best expressed in “The Conclusion:” “I hope that when you listen to this album, you just listen / And find it in your heart to listen to the words and rhythm.”
Email Destine Manson at [email protected]