Rap artist Azealia Banks visited Hot 97 and provided high levels of entertainment, discussing topics ranging from her sexuality (she hasn’t decided yet), her come up via Diplo, her issues with T.I., music she’s feeling and the challenges of being a black artist, in particular the tendency of the dominant culture to “smudge out” the history and accomplishments of black people. As has been her wont as of late, Banks uses Iggy Azalea as prime evidence and exhibit No. 1 for the trend:
“I feel like, in this country, whenever it comes to our things, like black issues or black politics or black music or whatever, there’s always this undercurrent of kinda like a fuck you. There’s always a ‘fuck y’all niggas. Y’all don’t really own shit. Y’all don’t have shit.’ That Macklemore album wasn’t better than the Drake record. That Iggy Azalea shit isn’t better than any fucking black girl that’s rapping today. And when they give those awards out ’cause the Grammys are going to be accolades for artistic excellence, you get what I mean? Iggy Azalea is not excellent.”
During the interview, Hot 97’s host Ebro while sympathetic, questioned Banks on why she doesn’t let the music speak rather than barking at Azalea and others on Twitter, which he views as a distraction from her talent.
What may be lost on Ebro is how hostile and inhospitable rap culture and the world has been to female artists. In some ways the advice that Banks should stick to the music is the same one Nicki Minaj fielded for exposing her body in the “Anaconda” video. Both Banks and Minaj probably long ago recognized that a black female rap artist needs a much bigger bag of tricks than just talent to rise above the fray.
So in reality, while Azalea is her target, she’s really part of a bigger agenda for Banks. Ironically, she’s riding the fame Azalea has gained as a white female rap artist and has turned it around on her to stir controversy and create buzz. The bigger goal though for Banks on top of making a living through music is to speak truth to power and give light to the black experience and more importantly contribution. As she states through tears in the interview, “They’re trying to erase us. All our books and scriptures, everything we’re supposed to know about ourselves are completely fucking gone, never to be seen again.”
Which is why in the Twitter exchange between Azalea and Banks that followed the interview, Banks isn’t playing when she tells Azalea that she is not really the point. “Itchy Areola, you are so stupid and selfish to make any of this about yourself in particular. My tears had absolutely nothing to with you and everything to do with society and the media in general.”
All of which puts Azalea is a very weird place. She’s chosen to take Banks head on in a female-to-female rap beef sort of way, but she might be better served by just keeping her mouth shut and playing her very privileged position. Taking on the underdog in this case has the potential to make her look like the worst kind of bully and can only further estrange her from the rap community. Unless of course she’s long past caring what the culture thinks and has her own hidden publicity agenda.