Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Princess Nokia

  • 1992 Deluxe [Rough Trade, 2017] A
  • A Girl Cried Red [self-released EP, 2018] B+
  • Everything Is Beautiful [Platoon, 2020] A-
  • Everything Sucks [Platoon, 2020] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

1992 Deluxe [Rough Trade, 2017]
Her album title her birth year, this Afrocentric "Jewish Puerto Rican" is already an established alt-rap fashionista who tours profitably under her own advisement. Putting her music across on a girlish flow free of tough-bitch macho-once-removed, she keeps her beats amateurish and minimal even when they flirt with trap grandeur. Not that she isn't tough--there's viral video of her dousing a racist drunk with hot soup on the L train. Claiming bruja and goth, tomboy and ho, foster kid and class clown, Harlem and Tompkins Square, she's the most complete New Yorker to hit hip-hop since Heems if not Nas. A

A Girl Cried Red [self-released EP, 2018]
What I loved most about 1992 Deluxe was its spunk. Biting off and shaping up her girly voice into a lively signature flow, a runway rapper with pan-Manhattan attitude put "my little titties and my fat belly" in hip-hop's face and claimed street for an Afro-diasporic bohemia of her own devising. So of course I was disappointed when she went sad-sack emo on a mixtape timed to vie with Cardi. But soon I caught it catching my ear the way sad-sack anything seldom does. "Goth as fuck," as she once bragged, she's not always so confident, and she wants us to know it. Her auto-tunelets range sad to determined, hopeful to boastful, hostile to empathetic. Depressive as fuck but nothing like self-indulgent, she tries to be not just honest but nice about it. B+

Everything Is Beautiful [Platoon, 2020]
Not beautiful, exactly--more cute like the piano parts, which while not exactly pop because she doesn't exactly have the pipes color if not define every one of these 12 chirpy, chin-up tracks. Simultaneously "a little artsy" and "kinda smart," "confident" and "insecure," she's rapped her way to riches under her own advisement, so you can "kiss her derriere because it's shaped like a pear." She inhabits a reality of her own devising where tax returns make you miss being a kid, "Sugar Honey Ice Tea" is how you used to say "shit," and if you want to co-release two albums that don't total an hour between them you just do it. A-

Everything Sucks [Platoon, 2020]
Sporting a pussyhat-teddybear combo on the cover while claiming she's "grosser than you hoes and it shows," the former Destiny Frasqueri showcases her bad side not her sad side. Rapping rapidly over spare, playful beats, the consignment-shop whiz looks like a milli in an outfit that cost 20 bucks and likes him but likes the next guy too, kind of the way she likes both fucking and sucking--which makes her the main thing that actually sucks here until an autobiographical closer in which first her mommy and then her granny die before she turns nine with only her wits to save her. Which they have, but it took some doing. B+