On Friday, 25-year-old genre hopper Destiny Frasqueri — famously known as Princess Nokia — dropped a mixtape, A Girl Cried Red, for those who are “bleeding on the inside.”
While no, it’s not exactly made with your ulcer plagued uncle in mind, it is for the “emo” kids of today. Unless you are completely offline or over 35, you have likely noticed the powerful resurgence of millennium era myspace music in rap and hip-hop with the likes of Lil Uzi Vert and the late Lil Peep. They challenging the conventions of genre with lyrics like, “I am not afraid to die; push me to the edge; all my friends are dead” set to hazy hip-hop backbeats.
Today, perhaps due to platforms like Soundcloud and visibility of social media, it is clear that the saccharine lyrics and aesthetics of emo have always found a fanbase in women and people of color, even if Warped Tour rarely invited them on stage.
A Girl Cried Red is a love letter to Frasqueri’s My Chemical Romance-loving, afro-Caribbean teenage self. The eight track collection is a big divergence from her last album, 1992, with a fresh take on old school, New York-style rap. She features songs that swap the swaggering accented bars that made her famous in exchange for the signature whining see-saw of Blink- 182’s Mark Hoppus.
With Frasqueri’s ferocious talent and authenticity, it is hard not to assume that the project would be anything other than a success. However, with no stand out singles or ballads, it feels incomplete.
Okay, as a huge Princess Nokia fan, perhaps I am just disappointed. Like really disappointed. But no matter how many times I listen, I can’t shake the feeling that the whole thing feels like it needs two more minutes in the microwave. Even so, there are some undeniably catchy tracks. “At the Top,” “Your Eyes are Bleeding” and “Look Up Kid” will likely worm their way onto a playlist — or in my brain as I am trying to fall asleep — with satisfyingly tragic lyrics like, “smash my heart in pieces, it looks so good on the floor.”
“Interlude,” an urgent two-minute guitar instrumental, sounds as if it is just about to blossom but is never fully actualized. It lacks any hint of the nostalgic screaming lyrics, crescendos or crashing cymbals you begin to crave by the time the song creeps up on you. Frasqueri no doubt has the bombast in her, so it makes you wonder if this minimalism was intentional or unfortunately undercooked.
On A Girl Cried Red you will find cloudy, lo-fi beats and sharpied notebook poetry but not much more. If you are into this kind of thing, I implore you to check it out in celebration of women of color in emo and pop-punk, who have historically been made to feel excluded from the predominately white male scene. If the album is not for you, you can just keep listening to 1992 Deluxe.
At the end of the day, the fact that this mixtape flops makes me feel far more emotional than I do when I am actually listening to its songs. I really wanted to love it. But Destiny Frasqueri, in her soup-throwing activism against racists, as well as in her music and guts for experimentation has already proven herself to be worth rooting for.
Contact Arts writer Camille Sauers at firstname.lastname@example.org