When I heard Azealia Banks biggest hit “212” for the first time I knew she was going to completely disrupt the music industry. From Banks impeccable pen game combined with dope production that incorporated House, R&B, and Hip Hop elements, she felt like a breath of fresh air that you only get to breathe once every five years. There aren’t too many artists that can match the controversial artist’s skill and creativity and because of that the general public lets a lot of things she does slide. As long as the music is on point and your fanbase support is unwavering, than you can get pretty far in the industry and Azealia’s star continues to rise past any scandal.
After blowing up from “212” Banks rode the independent wave with a couple amazing mixtapes, an EP and a critically acclaimed debut album titled Broke With Expensive Taste that cemented her place as a potential game changer in hip hop. With Azealia being an extremely outspoken voice for black women and avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, she was destined to blow, until the beefs started… Azealia Banks has been in at least 23 beefs over the span of five years and the list of Twitter beefs and directed Instastory rants are very diverse.
In 2016 she argued with the teenage Disney Channel star Skai Jackson on Twitter while spewing racist and homophobic slurs at former boy band One Direction member turned solo star Zayn. Lady Gaga, Pharrell, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna felt her wrath after failed music collaborations. Plus we can’t forget the most recent Twitter beef with Lana Del Ray where the Born To Die songstress told Banks she could “pull up” anytime after Azealia shared texts between her and and Kanye West discussing plans to work together and even pitched a West/Banks presidential ticket in 2020 (But that’s another article). It’s always interesting to see why Azealia Banks name is in the press but it’s never for her music. Aside from her fanbase (lovingly called the “kunt brigade”) the general public is never focused on the music and unlike misunderstood artists that came before her, Banks didn’t establish her career enough before becoming public enemy number one of Hollywood. The mainstream isn’t streaming her latest single “Treasure Island” or preparing to bop along to her Christmas album, they’re following the messiness and long ass Instastories and I can’t help but wonder if Banks will ever get the recognition and success that she deserves as an artist.
Azealia isn’t the first talented artist that’s been hard to love (Callback to that Kanye West mention) but when you happen to be Black and a woman, it’s so easy to be written off as a “angry black woman” that should just be excited that she has a seat at the table. Sadly we’re still in a time where being unfiltered, strong and a woman will hinder a lot of people from supporting your work but if you’re a man doing this, you’re a alpha wolf that’s expected to push their way to the top, with scandals coming with the territory of being powerful. Personally my support for Ms. Banks can only stretch so far when the amount of problematic things she says exceed the amount of music she has out. But I never want to see a woman (especially a Black woman) silenced for having opinions. Horrible opinions aside, when Banks uses her platform to speak on the oppression POC of color face and being one of the few artists that truly supports underrepresented segment of the population, she advocates for minorities that can’t truly express the freedom of speech the constitution extends to them in the same way Banks has over the years.
The entertainment that comes from Banks airing out her weekend escapes with Elon Musk and Grimes is priceless. Seeing her clean out the closet she sacrifices chickens in on Instagram is jolting. Whether you love her or hate her, you’re definitely paying attention to her and future rappers and pop stars will be influenced by how Banks approached the industry and bulldozed through the politics and expectations of being a talented artist the public eye. In this era of #MeToo, building walls to divide people and an inevitable war on classism on the horizon we need powerful voices like Azealia speaking their truth and showing the world it’s okay to question what the gatekeepers and political figures are trying to feed the world. But will the world let Azealia Banks unapologetically thrive?
Article By: Marcel “The Messenger” Jeremiah