Azealia Banks Is Right On Iggy But Wrong On Just About Everything Else » VSB

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Azealia Banks Is Right On Iggy But Wrong On Just About Everything Else

In a fair amount of ways, Azealia Banks and I have had similar life trajectories.

Bear with me here. I am by no means claiming that I could have become an infamous black sheep artist – anybody who’s ever heard me get a little too jiggy with my Spotify playlist knows that a record deal is not in the cards for me. But a Black girl who grows up in an environment with very heavy Hispanic influences, adjacent to Washington Heights? I get that. I grew up only a handful of blocks away from her. We even went to the same magnet school in the same school district.

In that vein, a lot of her present day brash “giveth-of-no-fucks” attitude is something that is just very reminiscent of the neighborhood we grew up in. The abrasiveness she constantly presents the public with is something that I see every time I’m walking up 155th street when I visit my mom, or when I’m taking the 1 train and overhearing teenage drama that Xiomara can’t seem to express at a coherent decibel level. The fact of the matter is that folks I went to middle school with and grew up around acted just like her; and, to be honest, a lot of them still act like that and they’re closer to thirty now. I ultimately attributed a lot of Azealia’s blunders to her immaturity and lack of real media training and I figured that in time, she would get over the antics and focus on keeping her fan base happy over everything else.

It’s been a few years now, and things haven’t changed. Not only has her attitude remained, but her problematic commentary continues to ruin any goodwill that she has started to regain.

Azealia has gotten a fair amount of internet high fives in recent days for rightfully pointing out that the Iggy Azalea machine has profited off and has been celebrated for a mimicry of Black culture. When TI clapped back at her harshly, Azealia continued to have a point when she mentioned that TI has never attacked another person as aggressively when defending Iggy – namely when Snoop went on his inexplicable social media smear of her.  Azealia even coined the moniker Igloo Australia, for which I will forever be thankful.

In the same breath as her tearfully defending Black music and Black culture with all the CAPS CAPS CAPS that 140 characters can offer, she continues to abandon all nuance and conflate issues that have absolutely nothing to do with each other by inserting the recent Bill Cosby allegations into the erasure of Black history.  This is not the first time she’s done so. She’s discredited all of the valid criticisms that she’s had of Perez Hilton by leveling very homophobic insults his way, and the amount of insignificant beefs with other artists that she’s instigated are too many to count.

Twitter beefs aside, lumping Bill Cosby’s rape allegations into Macklemore winning a Grammy and Iggy being able to call herself a “runaway slave master” without much backlash is just irresponsible. Tacking on Bill Cosby’s chickens coming home to roost to the recent deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown – especially when Beverly Johnson so astutely dissected why it did not apply – continues to show that while there is value in asking celebrities to speak up on social issues, these subjects sometimes have a complexity that takes a bit more nuance then they’re willing to offer.

I’m not interested in propping up the whims of an artist who is unable to really parse through the nuance of the racial topics she claims to be fighting for. She claims the “the blogs just don’t want to keep it on the music”, but at what point will she take ownership of her insistence on fanning the flames of discontent contributing to stalling her music career? Victim shaming and homophobia don’t help her make her case as her being miscast as the “bitter black woman” – and frankly, even when she discusses points that she is on the money on, more than two follow-up questions have her veering so far off the tracks that you regret engaging her in the first place.

Azealia Banks continues to demand others take accountability for their actions while simultaneously refusing to heed her own mantra. This obstinate lack of self cognizance will continue to be an albatross on her career until she realizes that no matter the intent, being strong and wrong does not provide an incentive for potential new fans to be invested in her success.

Shamira Ibrahim

Shamira is a twentysomething New Yorker who likes all things Dipset. You can join her in waxing poetically about chicken, Cam'ron, and gentrification (gotta have some balance) under the influence of varying amounts of brown liquor at her semi-monthly blog, shamspam.tumblr.com

  • iamnotakata

    I watched Azelias interview with Hot97 last night and it really gave me insight to the way she thinks. She is a lot more intelligent that I initially suspected. I co-sign her comments and the appropriation of black culture and music, and I thin Igloo Australia is a untalented caricature of what white Merica is trying to coin as rap..Every time someone comes at Igloo she is crying cyber bulling and mean spirited…The thing is, rappers are supposed to be able to clap back at a dis but she runs to TI. I can’t with her she needs to go away.

    With regard to her comments about the whole Bill Thing, I understood it more so as her saying that media is putting major focus on all things negative pertaining to Black people, more than her saying that the rape victims are lying. I am actually here for her bluntness and raw approach, she has had her issues with the internets, but I don’t think it is going to keep her from being successful. It may slow down her success, but whose to say what she is doing isn’t working.

    As of this morning she is getting shout outs from artist and her followers are growing. She may not be taking the traditional mainstream approach to things, but doing things the way everyone else does, doesn’t equal success, All in all I see it for her and mostly support her views.

    • uNk

      “rappers are supposed to be able to clap back at a dis but she runs to TI.”
      Chick knows she has no lyrical talent, because she could of shut Azelia, and all of us up if she came back with a dope diss and lyrically destroyed her..

  • GG Spointer

    Ummmm. I think she was making a point about media attention on issues and how the Bill Cosby scandal has been a reroute of news coverage from larger issues. Not to negate what you’re saying but having listened to the interview…she didn’t connect Bill Cosby to Macklemore’s Grammy win or Iggy’s slave master line. When it comes to Perez Hilton: I believe he began the argument calling her a monkey and other racial slurs…which was Azealia’s point of responding with slurs that pushed his button. He quickly deleted his comments and blogs picked up Azealia’s homophobic slurs and made a run with it. I think your post further proves her point that when a Black woman speaks openly about ANYTHING…any issue…we have a separate list of credentials for whether or not we should take her opinion seriously or whether or not we feel she’s of value enough to speak on it. I’d love to see these articles pop up for some of the revered male celebs who we praise for even opening their mouths on issues. “but at what point will she take ownership of her insistence on fanning the flames of discontent contributing to stalling her music career?”- interesting that Iggy brought up the same point but never once did Azealia blame anything or anyone to her “stalling music career” which isn’t actually stalling. the girl headlined Glastonbury, performs for the top of the top in several industries and debuted an album on the charts this year. It seems like you missed her point…it wasn’t about HER…it was about the treatment of Black artists…Black music…Black culture in direct comparison to White artists appropriating the culture.

    • iamnotakata

      “mmmm. I think she was making a point about media attention on issues and how the Bill Cosby scandal has been a reroute of news coverage from larger issues.”

      That was my take away from it too!

    • pls

      Thank you! On another site someone made an excellent point about how the media chooses to only highlight her tweets that can be seen as inflammatory, will blast it through the internet, and then try to make her accountable for creating a “better image.” They are creating the narrative here, she is just living her life.

  • Meridian

    What is she wrong about though?

    I’ve never heard much about her outside of one or two songs. Reading through the first half of these beefs it doesn’t even seem like she’s wrong OR antagonistic. Maybe people who are heavily invested in keeping up with shenanigans have a different perspective of her, but none of this looks off the wall to me. I think people have a problem with her being a person who has legitimate things to say and doesn’t really feel any need to lie or front about things. Asking someone to be dishonest or to accept people tossing crap at her — especially when it’s customary to pick on the young, easy target — just sounds like people are salty because she doesn’t conform to that kind of social pressure. People are nasty to her. No one is in her corner and no one is supportive of her when she does try to make a positive move when it comes to her music, so, I can imagine the frustration that causes makes her lash out on people. Maybe if they gave her a legitimate look/didn’t come at her sideways she wouldn’t have to be so abrasive.

    That’s just me though. I think being rough around the edges comes from a lack of any real etiquette and PR training. When artists have a true team behind them they have people who can coach them on how to handle things, how to stay out of the controversy or at least spin it to work in their favor. I think she’s scrappy because she’s looking out for herself in a culture that picks at her and dismisses her. It’s understandable to me. At the same time though, I really do want to see her win. There’s always legitimate corrections and necessary critiques that she needs to hear so that her artistry will become better. I’m sure at some point she’ll trust someone enough to actually listen to what they have to say about her. I get both sides of it.

    Everything bad anyone has to say about Iggy Azalea is accurate though.

    • Kim

      THANK YOU : )

  • Her ability to self-sabotage her career is only bested by Charles Hamilton’s legendary fall from grace.

    • iamnotakata

      The thing is I don’t think she is….Most artist don’t make the majority of their coin in Merica. The coins are over seas, she is super popular there and doing well. It’s always funny to me when people see someone going left when the norm is to go right, and assume they are failing. Look at her career in a different lens perhaps, and you might change your thought about her “sabotaging” her career, because I really don’t think she is.

      • I think she could be much more popular here as well as overseas though.

      • bex0r

        I agree- it also appears her priorities in terms of her music are maybe a bit more underground and she doesn’t care as much about being a mainstream success as the music industry would have you believe. She’s been working with underground and unknown electronic producers, not afraid to bring her political views into her lyrics and press, calling her own shots and running her own business (refusing to sign a 360 deal was the smartest thing she could have done). This all allows her to exercise her creativity in a way that the mainstream commercial white male dominated music industry would never let her do (this is also why her previous relationships with labels have fallen through, eg. they can’t control or mold her into a perfect commodity for mainstream consumption). I think that is also why she is being misrepresented with the “angry black woman” trope – because she doesn’t buy into the game and that is threatening to the establishment. even Hot 97’s Ebro accused her of being “difficult” and she had to reprimand him, reminding him she’s an artist and she gets to choose how her art is represented. This is typical of a male music industry mindset and probably not even the worst she’s had to deal with.

    • Epsilonicus

      Charles was the Sonic the Hedgehog rapper?

      • BeautifullyHuman

        He was definitely the rapper who took a one piece from Mary J. Blige’s step daughter.

      • CamCamtheGreat

        That’s the one.

    • Ol girl knocked the potential out her

  • pls

    she 23, she just now finding her voice. i don’t agree with everything she says, but she’s right about A LOT. especially when she said radio and magazine’s job is to “focus on the music,” not hers.

    i almost cried with her when i watched her interview, it is a very emotional topic and it’s all related. all of it goes together. giving out those grammys is how they will rewrite history and in 50 years from now it will be documented that white artists had the “best” rap and r&b albums. Same way they claim our history begins with the slave trade.

    • BeautifullyHuman

      “giving out those grammys is how they will rewrite history and in 50 years from now it will be documented that white artists had the “best” rap and r&b albums. Same way they claim our history begins with the slave trade.”

      J. Cole just gave an example of this during his Angie Martinez interview. He talked about how he was looking for a Jazz album on itunes and noticed that all the current Jazz artists were White when Jazz was initially shunned by White folks — essentially being the Hip-Hop of its day. His point was that we’re pretty much witnessing this today with Hip-Hop. Maybe in 50 years or so…don’t be surprised if it’s dominated by whites.

      • BlueWave1

        This goes hand in hand with the “new black” phenomenon. In an attempt not to be seen as “too black” many black artists are running away from their own cultural heritage. Then it gets co-opted and they have nothing left.

        And J. Cole brings up another important point. With music moving to an almost all digital platform (no more cassettes or CD’s) someone is making decisions on what older titles from previous platforms get converted and what gets left behind. And what happens? More and more of the not so popular, but still influential black artists of yesteryear get left out. It gets to the point that if you didn’t know better, outside of guys like Coltrane, Dizzy, and Miles you’d think all the great Jazz musicians were white. Because only their records can be readily found on emerging platforms.

        • gioforeal

          Good point.Let me say this:most of the music I still listen to today was introduced to me by someone who knew me well enough to think I’d also appreciate it,and they were right!What I’m saying is,it may be also left up to US to share the music with a potential fan,forget Itunes and Spotify,etc…

      • jonmadison

        he’s not looking in the right spot. the cats i know doing jazz right now aren’t white dudes. and they’re not generally considered jazz…that said, this may be a digression.

  • God Shammgod

    Just to be clear on her comments about Bill Cosby guys (I wanted to link to this in my article but my current servers block twitter), her hot 97 interview was not the first time she’s mentioned it. These are direct quotes:

    “From police murders, to Macklemore and Igloo Australia…. They are even trying to tear down our father figure BILL COSBY”

    “Them b*tches frontin’ like they wasn’t trying to get some of that pudding pop!!!!”

    Do with this information what you will, it’s easily searchable. But I want to make it clear that she hasn’t only said that coverage of Bill Cosby was overcovered (which I think is patently false, for the record). She’s suggested that she’s thought it was an outright lie.

    • Yeah, i remember seeing those tweets, re: Bill Cosby. That’s why I continue to say that on that front, Azealia gets in her own way.

      I’ll be nodding my head and mhmm-ing all over the place when she hits the nail and hits the nail and hits the nail about that minstrel show, Igloo Australia, then Azealia’ll go in about how the women in the Bill Cosby case are lying. And then I do a face palm.

    • iamnotakata

      I heard about her “pudding pop” statement, don’t agree with it but, with regard to what she said in the actual interview, I agree with the sentiment, of the media painting a negative image on all things black so…

      • Meridian

        Pretty much. Just because she said something majority of people wouldn’t agree with doesn’t mean she can be painted as a nuisance in totality. I don’t agree with that one quote but it’s her right to say it. People have flaws, they aren’t defined by them.

    • thanks for clearing that up! yes that is DEFINITELY disappointing and disturbing.

  • AlabamaAshley

    Who is Azealia Banks? I’ve heard the name several times (usually in the same sentence as Iggy), but who is she? Like, what does she do? Who are her mama and daddy?

  • Jessica

    I’m sorry but I love that iggy is white! it’s the female version of Eminem, and he isn’t a poser either.. she’s unique and cool

  • Agatha Guilluame

    Imma need you to get your act together and have your posts ready bright and early. You’re a good writer and I feel like you’re getting lost in the shuffle. I’m saying this publicly to shame you.

    • h.h.h.

      let her know AG.
      *head nods*

      #DipSetKnowsBetter

    • Rachmo

      Cosign

  • Her mention of Bill Cosby was way off, but it was also brief. Like literally a sentence in the whole interview. maybe she’s been more vocal about it elsewhere (i don’t “follow” her online anywhere) but in the context of like a 45+ minute interview, the bill cosby comment took up maybe 2 seconds. so i think saying she’s right about a”iggy” and wrong about “almost everything else” is at worst off-base, or at best, a claim that isn’t being substantiated in her article.

    i’m not trying to be overly critical of your article in any way, i just relate to the pain she expresses–i felt the same way when i was her age. and i think she’s one of those younger people that just GETS how race works in this country, and she is totally right to express it. her gender analysis obviously needs work…b/c of her comments about bill cosby and also because it isn’t just black men and boys being murdered by police.

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