Princess Nokia showcases confidence, grit and versatility on 1992 Deluxe. A re-issue of her 2016 mixtape, the remastered effort features eight new tracks and so many distinct personas that it's hard to believe there's only one person rapping throughout.
Nokia channels Cam'Ron on older favourites like "Saggy Denim" and evokes Bahamadia on "Green Line." "ABCs of New York" is deliciously regional, while the West Coast-inspired "Chinese Slippers" ensures Nokia doesn't box herself in sonically. She employs a coquettish squeak on "Mine" and transitions to a thick, guttural delivery on the cocky standout "Receipts." From fierce, self-assured witch ("Brujas") to moody, tortured loner ("Goth Kid"), Nokia wears many hats throughout the album — but each personality feels authentic. There's never a sense that she's masquerading.
Despite Nokia's artistry, though, Deluxe has a few marked flaws. Her cadence and punchlines are amateurish at times, and there's something flat about the production and overall mix. Nokia's voice seems to float on top of the beats rather than blend into its surroundings. And the canned drums and bass just don't fill the ear like they should. These are technicalities that can't be blamed on Nokia, but are still too distracting to overlook.
Overall though, Deluxe is a solid effort that proves this Harlemite has the range. Fans will surely delight. (Rough Trade)