By: Kitty Cheung, Staff Writer
Yellow Ranger (2014)
Tongue-in-cheek, clever, and remorselessly brash, rapper Awkwafina is a comedian at heart. In her debut album, this Asian-American rapper proudly flaunts her heritage as she spits with a “mouth from the motherfucking West” as she raps in her eighth track, “Marijuana.” With the “Intro III” skit of Yellow Ranger, Awkwafina introduces her random and vulgar style of humour in a mock radio-show recording. Tracks such as “Queef” and “My Vag,” while ridiculous and raunchy, are bold expressions about parts of the female experience that are often considered taboo.
However, the album feels scattered as each song comes off as a separate joke or anecdote. It is not unified by a common theme or underlying purpose other than to conjure laughs. Ultimately, Yellow Ranger is fearless albeit confused, and it offers the world a first glimpse of Awkwafina in all of her hilarious and raunchy glory.
In Fina We Trust (2018)
The In Fina We Trust EP is a more cohesive and refined work. “The Fish” intro and outro skits show this artist’s self-awareness and groundedness as she raps about getting “recognized” by a fan, mistaken for different Asian actors, and even being called “that fucking fish from Bojack Horseman.” The satire is clear and biting as she critiques Asian stereotypes.
The EP is full of self-deprecating humour and witty reflection. The form of her track “Inner Voices” is especially clever as she seamlessly switches between two different personas: the arrogant rapper and the soul-searching millennial. The track even features two different beats to further poke fun at herself. Overall, the EP is witty and moving, showcasing how this “slanty-eyed dreamer,” as she describes herself in “Testify,” has evolved.
Comparing these two bodies of music is a testament to Awkwafina’s growth, both in music and comedy. Yellow Ranger comes off as more of a raunchy comedy set, with each track being a drawn-out joke, while In Fina We Trust, though still humorous, is a more polished and better executed project. As Awkwafina reflects on her rising success throughout the EP, In Fina We Trust is a gracious salute to her beginnings as a frenzied but talented artist.