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Vixen Vent: I Respect Azealia Banks' Artistry, But Not Her Views On Dating Black Men

Azealia Banks has got some real explaining to do after her comments on dating black men.

I respect Azealia Banks as an artist, but I'm wondering where that emotionally distraught, cry-me-a-river passion and angst she unleashed few months ago has disappeared to. You can't go from sobbing at the state of blackness in America to declaring disdain for black men. It doesn't work like that.

I've been a faithful fan of the straight-shooter Harlem rapper since her "212" days, but her racially-charged rants and social media commentary are beginning to outshine her true talent and have me questioning whether or not she is the kind of artist I want to support. From her ongoing war of foul words with "cultural smudger" Iggy Azalea and "shoe-shining coon" T.I., the beef never ends. And let's not forget her recent Twitter feud with the beloved Erykah Badu and remarks against Kendrick Lamar that had us scratching our heads with one hand and stuffing our faces with popcorn with the other.

ALSO SEE: Azealia Banks On Her Obama Comment: 'I Really Wish I Could Take It Back'

Basically, Banks and Internet trolling have become synonymous as she holds her tongue for no one. Nor her private lady parts for that matter, as she allegedly gave conservative blogger, Matt Walsh, a peep show that made headlines on nearly every media outlet and Tumblr dashboard. In three years, the talent Azealia Banks was once known for has taken a backseat to her social media showdowns and public rivalries, detracting from her due recognition and critical acclaim. Somewhere along the way, she went from being that dope ass rapping chick with millions of YouTube views, to performing at Karl Lagerfeld's house, to picking fights with her music industry peers.

Damn Azealia, why always on the defense? While I had sympathy for her during that emotional HOT 97 interview, I am slowly but surely becoming less interested in the artistry that is Ms. Banks. When the fierce, no-holds-barred femcee first emerged with her new wave, hard-spitting rhymes and synthesized dance-pop beats, I lived for everything she represented: a fly black gal with a unique sense of style and raw, undeniable talent. Even while some found her brash, sometimes aggressive and very raunchy lyrics to be too much, I found them to be fun, confident, and empowering, with a side of "fuck you."  That was until her personal opinions began to outweigh her musical prowess, spilling more piping hot tea than the foam finger-toting, twerking, Disney-star-turned-bad-ass Miley Cyrus, making her the topic of discussion for all the wrong reasons.

Just this week (Mar. 30), I was once again reminded of my frustrations with Banks when she shared her views on dating black men. It all started with a simple selfie the "Ice Queen" rapper posted on Instagram where someone asked why she “dates old white dudes with money." Azealia replied:

"Because black men take black women for granted and I’m too busy with music to be fighting for my rights at home. I already have to fight for respect with black men in hip-hop so when I get home I like things to be nice and easy. Make sense?”

To be honest, her answer doesn't surprise me. We live in a world, especially within the black community, where everything is supposedly better when it's "foreign." Whether it be cars, clothes, or bundles of weave, we embrace nearly everything but our own – down to our men and women. As a 23-year-old dark-skinned African-American female, I can partly understand Banks' frustration with black men. I can personally attest to being frustrated with black men in particular after being told a number of times that I am "pretty for a dark skin girl," as if it weren't a backhanded compliment. However, even though I have encountered a handful of black men pedaling that same sorry ass line, all hopes is not lost. I know that black men are not the only narrow-minded individuals that only see color.

Again, while I agree with part of Azealia's statement, I just can't get jiggy with the shadiness that has ensued between her and all black men. I could have sided with her if she said "some" black men, but she didn't. In three sentences, she tarnished an entire race of men and stamped them as mean, difficult and disrespectful. Since when has dating a black man only meant fighting for your rights and not being respected? What Azealia failed to realize is that a man's race isn't a surefire indicator of whether he's a "good man" or not. Take Robin Thicke for instance, a white man who was the demise of his own nine-year marriage with this wife and childhood love, Paula Patton. Even Jessie James, ex-boyfriend of Kat Von D and ex-husband of Sandra Bullock wasn't loyal. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger, who showed the utmost disrespect in his 25-year marriage to Maria Shriver. My list could go on forever, but alas you get the point: respect and happiness aren't reserved for whites only.

Open your eyes Azealia, black love is not a myth – it's alive and breathing. There are still many black men that love their black queens: Barack and Michelle, Jay-Z and Beyonce, Will and Jada, Alicia and Swizz, Steve and Marjorie, Mary J. and Kendu. Even the hottest man in hip-hop, Kendrick Lamar, opted for the main video girl in his "Poetic Justice" visual to be of a beautiful, chocolate complexion, not only addressing colorism in our community, but breaking down barriers and mainstream society's standard of beauty.

But it seems as if Azealia Banks and her disdain for black men have a long history. Take the lyrics to her 2012 hit "Liquorice" from her debut 1991 EP, where she flaunts herself as a dark-skinned woman who is only interested in men of paler pigments with tons of dough to spend, rapping:

"So since you vanilla men spend/Can my hot fudge bitches get with your vanilla friends/Hey, I’m the licorice bitch/You know I’m looking for these niggas if these niggas is rich/I make hits motherfucker/Do you jiggle your dick when your bitch pop singing on the liquorice hit, ya know."

And let's not forget the playful and suggestive hook:

"Can I catch your eye, sir/Can I be what you like, yeah/I could be the right girl/Tell me if you like your lady in my color/Can I be your type, yeah/I could set you right, whoa."

Apparently in Azealia's world the big pay back is hopping in bed with the perceived "opposition," and she gets a kick out of it. Reparations on fleek? Or is this just a miniscule ploy in her rise to fame? I'd be a hypocrite if I said I haven't willingly pushed the play button to hear the dope house track that is "Liquorice" a dozen times, but Banks is the bigger hypocrite here. For three minutes and change, we are transported into Azealia's dark, twisted fantasy, in which the content is a direct correlation to her not being interested in dating black men. I'm all for interracial dating, but I find it interesting that the Harlem rapstress is so quick to write off her own brothers, but is willing to spread her legs to white men who she publicly exhibits a "general hatred" for. What happened to the crown and cape she so righteously wore while defending the exploitation of black culture? The shit just doesn't add up for me.

If you ask me, the hypocrisy lies within herself. One moment she's tweeting, "Fuck all this shit about erasing racial barriers and getting along... Why does white America think blacks even wanna be here?!" and the next she's professing her preference for white men, followed by, "I might have to kill one of these crackers in their sleep," and "Lol, I'm joking" for good measure.

Maybe this is all just a game to the Broke With Expensive Taste rapper, maybe not. But judging by her inconsistent stance on embracing her own culture, and loathing those who appropriate and diminish its past, present and future, trying to fully understand the complexities of Azealia Banks frustrates me. I don't know what it will take for her to understand just how pending and at stake her career is right now, but from a true fans perspective – Azealia girl, get your life.

 

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
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Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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