On 1992 Deluxe, New York based artist Princess Nokia creates a solid mosaic of her entire image. This album is a love letter to the contemporary Afro-Nuyorican girl and turns her daily struggles into badges that she wears on her sleeve. New York City is one of the biggest inspirations for Destiny Frasqueri, who goes by the stage name and alter ego Princess Nokia. In 1992 Deluxe, she presents New York as the foundation of the urban culture that drives her work. On songs like Brujas and ABC’s of New York, she uses her Afro-Nuyorican culture as a muse for her lyrics. On Mine, she aims her lyrics at the white criticism of colored girl’s hairstyles. Lyrically, Nokia excels at her structure and content, which crosses into unheard topics in mainstream hip hop music. Those topics include Brujeria culture as well as gothic culture.
Her delivery varies from song to song, which can be a polarizing element to her work. Her flow and technique on songs like Bart Simpson follows the traditional East Coast style, but on Different she uses the current triplet flow popularized by Migos. While it makes her more versatile and entertaining to listen to, many critics see this as her stray away from a cohesive sound that’ll define her work. However, voice is very unique and distinct to her work. The groggy somewhat deep voice she uses when she raps creates this powerful yet bizarre listening experience. Similarly, she often yells on songs like Kitana where her voice matches the fast paced instrumental under it.
Production wise many of the instrumentals on 1992 Deluxe are rapid fire and dreamlike. The keyboard heavy introduction Bart Simpson features a dreamy and hypnotic beat that Nokia’s flow matches perfectly. On Kitana, the production uses some pitched up horns that are blaring and fit with the content of the song as well as Nokia’s delivery. However, there are some moments where the production is a little experimental. The song Tomboy starts off with this wall of noise that breaks down into a beat. On Goth Kid, the instrumental uses a slow repetitive piano sample and features sinister strings that come in and out of the song.
This goes well with the realm of hip hop that Princess Nokia exists in. In contemporary hip hop, the styles and sounds are separated into various types based on location and influence. Artists like Migos and Gucci Mane come from Atlanta and are the quintessential trap acts that define this style. Similarly, Kendrick Lamar and YG stem from the West Coast and feature the bass heavy G Funk sound with their music. However, there are artists like Tyler, The Creator who also come from the West Coast, but exist within a realm of their own style and influence. This is where Princess Nokia is right now. Her content and lyrics is largely influenced by her Afro-Nuyorican and cultural heritage, her style and sound stems from a wide array of artists. Her style shows influence from Kanye, Lauryn Hill, and Wu-Tang Clan. However, it also shows influence from contemporary artists like Nicki Minaj and A$AP Rocky. While she is an intricate part of this wave of contemporary intersectional feminist New York hip hop artists headed by Young M.A. and Cardi B, Princess Nokia exists in a world of her own. Her sound is very unique in not only the female hip hop world, the entire hip hop community.
1992 Deluxe is not a perfect hip hop album. Princess Nokia still has a lot of work to do before she creates an important work. However, what she shows on this album is that she is able to turn her potential and hype into a quality record.