From The White Album to Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, double albums have long been opportunities for a greater breadth of creative expression, and dual release Everything Sucks / Everything Is Beautiful from Princess Nokia continues the lineage. Everything Sucks mostly consists of grimy trap bangers, while Everything Is Beautiful showcases soulful production and generally more lighthearted lyrics.
The booming bass, shouted hook and purring delivery on the verses make Harley Quinn a very effective opener to Everything Sucks, while Gross features a spooky synth line and Princess Nokia’s unique form of braggadocio (“Bitch I’m gross / yeah, I’m grosser than you hoes and it shows / I got stains on my teeth and my clothes”).
Balenciaga’s trippy mid-tempo bounce – think DJ Mustard on shrooms – is accompanied by lyrics about the benefits of low fashion and second-hand shopping, all very Macklemore-esque, and Welcome To The Circus amps up the self-conscious weirdness to Nicki Minaj levels.
Unfortunately on the closing track, Just A Kid, Nokia’s flow becomes extremely clunky as she describes the trials and tribulations of her upbringing. It could be that this is a deliberately childish register in keeping with the concept of the song, but it is still jarring and sub-par, especially considering that Everything Is Beautiful opener Green Eggs & Ham touches on similar material with much better results.
Highlights on album two include the horn-led bombast of Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.) – “I hate domestic abusers, in fact they all make me sick / this dude poured wine on my friend, I punched him straight in his shit” – and the boom bap beats of Gemini, with lyrics about her infatuation with astrology and horoscopes.
This record has more diversity than Everything Sucks, although that diversity also leads to more missteps: tracks like Wash & Sets and Heart are so on-the-nose that they feel pandering in their depiction of everyday issues, while Nokia’s verses on The Conclusion clash irritatingly with the 6/8 production.
The decision to segregate different moods and styles into these contrasting releases was a risky one, but it pays off in that both records remain interesting for their duration. Princess Nokia is for the most part a great rapper, but can sometimes lapse into an artless earnestness, as this enjoyable but patchy diptych demonstrates.