“You got a lot, but you just waste all yours and/They’ll forget your name soon, and won’t nobody be to blame but yourself, yeah.” —Azealia Banks, "212"
Azealia Banks at the tail end of this summer sat down with XXL and talked all things music, including feeling ostracized by the hip-hop community and music industry at large.
"I guess the source of my disappointment comes from just watching lots of other men in hip-hop, just like male rappers, have their career setbacks and go through things. Or even when a Black male rapper misspeaks something… just seeing Black men go through the motions, seeing the Black mass just kind of seemingly accepting it as just an attribute of their artistry," she explained to the hip-hop mag, naming the likes of Kanye West and R. Kelly beneficiaries of such privileges.
On the topic of today's women MCs, brought up shortly thereafter, Banks immediately named Cardi B, telling XXL how their staff fell short for not including her on this year's Freshman cover.
"I don’t know, but you guys should have had Cardi B on the cover, to be honest," she stated. "From what I see, hip-hop is very biased in general, and I can tell that certain people are picked because there are certain people in position, other people aren’t picked because maybe they won’t kiss a certain ass or whatever, but Cardi B should have been in the Freshmen for sure. I’m not trying to hate on Kamaiyah. I don’t know who she is, but I mean… you guys should have had me on the Freshman list. You should have had Cardi B on the Freshman list."
One of the reasons Bodak Yellow went #1 cuz even the HATERS LOVE IT !! pic.twitter.com/CCHUhHvN8z
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) September 27, 2017
She went on to profess her support for the "Bodak Yellow" rapper:
"I really, really like Cardi B. I followed Cardi B on Instagram before she started rapping and I was like, 'Oh my God. This girl just reminds me of all the girls I went to middle school with, all the girls I grew up on the block with, all the Dominican babysitters.' I grew up with girls just like Cardi B. So I always thought she was funny, and when she started rapping, I was like… what is she doing? Then I heard “Foreva” and I was like, Okay, this is really fucking good, she’s not playing. Then I heard a couple other songs and I was like, Oh shit, Cardi’s not playing! And now I’m a fan of Cardi B’s music and her personality."
When Cardi B, née Belcalis Almanzar, moved to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 on Monday, making music history with "Bodak Yellow" as the only female rapper next to Lauryn Hill to top the charts, Banks responded with mere distaste, much of which was problematic (and dangerous) in rhetoric, saying she "wanted spicy Latina" not "poor man's Nicki."
By "spicy Latina," Banks is referring to the cis-hetero patriarchy – the very same system she often rails against – definition of what it means to be of "Latino" descent.
“Charlamagne and black men in hip-hop should have gotten me, Remy AND Nicki a number one before they gave Cardi or Iggy one,” she tweeted. “But literally white guys buy black men away from black women and it’s soo cringe.”
By grouping Cardi and Iggy Azalea together, Banks almost likens them, which is incredibly irresponsible and a total falsehood.
"She's only black when black want to include themselves in a success story," she added, not only stripping Cardi of her own agency but stripping her of her own blackness.
Cardi B, who successfully emerged an autonomous female entity in the male-dominated industry of rap, is of African-Caribbean heritage with Dominican and Trinidadian parents. She is emblematic of an age-old "debate" of what defines blackness and the fact that being "Latino" and black are not mutually exclusive.
Writer, professor and commentator Jamila Aisha Brown chimed in, summing up perfectly why Banks' latest rant is far too costly to the detriment of us: "If you don’t realize that Black Americans controlling the narrative on Blackness is a tool of white supremacy, then we’ll never win."
By asking, "How are we going to move forward? How do we address Black American imperialism?" Brown – who is of Panamanian ancestry – is throwing down the gauntlet at those of us within the African Diaspora, imploring us to actively help dismantle the tethers of white supremacy and demonstrating why "African-Americans" do not have a monopoly on blackness, all at once.
Azealia, sister-girl, we love you. But we've got to do better.