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.
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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.