Princess Nokia - A Girl Cried Red
A Girl Cried Red
I went pretty hard on Princess Nokia's last album. There was so much buzz about the New York rapper that the record felt like a ton more sizzle than steak. Her love of emo and punk was front and center, but the translation to hip hop felt clunky as hell. Well in short order she's returned with a new muxtape focused on highlighting what falling apart sounds like. If you thought she liked emo before buckle up buttercup because this record takes it to a whole other level. Track of track of sad R&B-esuq songs shifts her away from the New York hip hop she's known for, but the music isn't quite good enough to make this dour thing shine. There is nothing inherently wrong with sad music, in fact some of the best music of all time is sad as hell, but this feels so damn heavy that it never transcends that emotion. She sounds like she is doing a Lil Uzi Vert impression on "For the Night", vocal effect and all, and while there is a certain something that makes it feel catchy it doesn't pack enough punch to push through. Her singing is almost too sweet for this melancholy and songs like "Look Up Kid" which sound like they will be at Warped Tour this year miss by a massive margin. This is for all we know Princess Nokia's MO; she never stays the same album over album and has covered damn near every genre she can. The problem is she leans so hard into these genre shifts that she looses almost everything about herself. You can't find Princess Nokia anywhere in these songs save for the lyrics. Having a song called "Morphine" could not be more cliche if she tried; is it super sad? You know it. The album is only 21 minutes but with this much heaviness it feels like it's two hours.
"All the Top" is the one time we get a more confrontational Nokia which is a breath of fresh air. The trap beat skitters and claps as she sing/raps this boisterous call out to anyone who would doubt her. It's the fact that you have to wade through so much muck to get there that is really disappointing. It's a bit disingenuous to want an artist to be one thing, but you just really need something that unites all their work and A Girl Cried Red feels so different you just can't square it in your mind. It is only after a few listens that the songs start to imprint on your brain, and you can even find yourself kind of enjoying them. I just feel like there are better versions of this, and Princess Nokia on scratches the surface of the genres she tries to emulate. You have to appreciate the level of experimentation especially at such a young age, but she just has not found a sound she can truly lock into yet. Princess Nokia is getting better, and more savvy at the same time. Hopefully soon she finds her true voice and really blows us away.
6.0 out of 10