There is no other feeling quite like the euphoria of blocking out the noise of world. Car horns, a work call on my day off, a burning slur spewed by a passerby on the street — these things are inevitable (the latter more-so for flamboyant folks.) No matter where I am located, what I am doing, or how I feel emotionally, hearing a favorite song — regardless of its tone or mood — entices me with a memory…a particular moment in time.
My first introduction to Azealia Banks was in September of 2012. My good friend in college, whose R&B fever I embraced and to which I related (my white mother blared Prince, Aaliyah, Janet, Whitney, Brandy, Luther, and more throughout my adolescence), one day asked me, “Have you seen the 1991 video yet??” I hadn’t, nor did I know who Azealia was. After watching the video the first time, my initial thought was, “…so unique…so talented and unapologetic.” Later, I thought, “That gay backup dancer should have had more time on camera…” Later that night as I lie in bed, I watched the video well over a dozen or two times, learning all the words to the song. “Who are you, nigga? Ha ha ha!” I was hooked.
A few months later, tragedy struck. Azealia remixed Baauer’s smash (but only tolerable for thirty seconds) hit, “Harlem Shake”, adding her own flare that (now) makes the entire song worth listening to over and over again. Soon after the remix’s release, Baauer removed the song from SoundCloud, telling the Harlem rapper on Twitter, “…it’s not ur song lol”.
A few days later, Diplo (who signed Baauer to his Mad Decent label in 2012) emailed Azealia explaining why she couldn’t use the track…
The drama continued at an upward trajectory as time passed. At the end of 2014, Azealia renamed Iggy Azalea, “Igloo Australia…”, calling her out for thinking “Black Culture is cool” but not speaking up on “black issues”. Azealia also called T.I. a “coon” for associating with Iggy, whom she thinks is appropriating black culture. (For the sake of time and relevancy, I’ll save my thoughts on little Igloo for another time.) Banks has since called out Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, the BET Awards, black media and more for their own individual “wrongdoings”.
For the first time in my life, I am torn between an artist and her music. Azealia’s music is unique and innovative — her accent and quick tongue, combined with her lyrics and the production, make her music a contender for the best, ever. Then you have Azealia herself. The artist. The “angry bitch”. The drama queen. The woman — no, the whiny little girl — who would rather call someone out publicly (for publicity) than confront them directly.
For the record, I don’t think Azealia is actually a “bitch”. She is angry. She is passionate. She thinks black culture is being taken away and exploited and capitalized by white people who couldn’t care less about black people or black issues. Babe, I FEEL YOU. Cops kill innocent black children without even blinking. Money-hungry lawyers trick mentally-ill, dying black women into selling them her lawsuit winnings for 11% of their value. Racism is alive and well in this country, and it’s fucked up.
The thing is, Azealia, using discrimination to fight discrimination doesn’t help progress the human race. It merely makes your anger hypocritical and your passion a lie. I’m referring to her recent scene on an airplane, when she got angry at a couple for (allegedly) compiling their bags and not allowing her to pass. When a flight attendant got involved, she called him a “fucking faggot”. Azealia also called Perez Hilton a “faggot” in 2014, justifying the slur by positioning her definition of the word as a “…coward, liar, backstabber…….” NO, DEAR. THE DEFINITION OF THOSE WORDS — coward, liar, backstabber — ARE THOSE WORDS.
I recently wrote a piece about gay, white men being inherently racist. Confusingly, they certainly wouldn’t want Azealia or anyone calling them a faggot (despite their Grindr profiles basically reading “whites only”.) Similarly, Ms. Banks, you expect reparations for the mistreatment of blacks as slaves, yet you continue to use words with demeaning connotations – “faggot” or “pussy” or “coon” – in a hateful manner to promote your own confused agenda. I use the word “faggot” — hell, my handle on Instagram is “callmefag”. But I don’t use this or any other word to promote anger or hatred against another person.
Racism, misogyny, homophobia…all are a result of bigotry and confusion — a hatred that typically isn’t actually understood by the offender. I don’t know if Azealia understands her bigotry or anger, or if all of this is an act for attention. Whatever it is, I’ve ignored it up to this point to focus on the way her music makes me feel. When Broke with Expensive Taste came out last year, I watched the Chasing Time video dozens of times. At one point, I became super emotional watching it, pondering why such a talented person did not receive the type of media attention or praise as other, less talented artists. But now, in a turn of events I never expected, her shitty attitude is finally beginning to overshadow her musical talent. As much as I hate it, The Ice Princess may soon lose the Luxury of my Heavy Metal and Reflective coins. She Fuck(ed) Up the Fun, y’all!
In a 2012 interview with Hypetrak, Azealia stated, “I would eventually like to stop rapping. That’s just the honest truth. Like one day I don’t wanna rap anymore just because it’s easy you know what I mean, but it’s kind of tacky and I think it’s very unladylike. I like it, but I think I’m going to get tired of it. I would like to get two albums out. Like get all of the urban stuff like rap music out. Whatever ideas I have in me out and into fruition the maybe go back to school. Take voice lessons again and do like contemporary jazz. I definitely don’t see myself being a rapper forever.” Is clambering out of the rap industry by flying an airplane of controversy into Twin Toppers the right venture? Does she want the low-hanging shade of “that bitch” for the rest of her career? Whether me or you or Igloo ever support this Bitch With Questionable Taste, I’m sure we’ll continue hearing about her in the press. For the sake of great music – her music – I hope she keeps rapping, and breaks news headlines titled, “Azealia Banks Volunteers at Local School, Proves How Easy It Is to Help Move the World Forward.” instead of, “Azealia Banks Calls Someone Else a Faggot”, or, “Coons! Azealia Banks Finds Another One”.