Posted Aug 19th, 2015 (1:29 pm) by Lucy Xiong
Image by Manfred Werner
Music Player: 

In a world full of artists too meek to stray from the politics of fame, Azealia Banks swoops in to save us from the nonsense.

Once upon a time, MCs and artists actually provided commentary of value instead of pandering to the egos of fellow industry members. What those who cannot handle the firestorm of glory that is Azealia Banks consider to be "rants", I consider genius works of articulated realness. From her poignant observations on cultural appropriation to gender-inequality, Azealia Banks is an undervalued voice that is in so many ways the voice of our generation. Here’s why:

6.She’s a self-starter.

When XL Records dropped her after unsuccessfully trying to mold her into a novelty, Azealia Banks shot “212” with a friend and uploaded it herself. The dance anthem that was also one of the few genuinely original hip-hop tracks at the time, now has almost 100 million views on YouTube.

Not only is this song now a classic but it has been groundbreaking for female sexual expression everywhere.

5. She is a child of the time of Angelfire.

"I'm from the Internet age," says Banks. "I got on Twitter when I was 16. I had f--ing Napster when Napster came out. I used to make those weird Angelfire pages where you could have borders with glittery butterflies and shit."

Angelfire catalyzed a culture of online emotional realness/purging. Emo creative-types everywhere carved digital spaces of free expression and catharsis on Angelfire in the early-2000s. Telling the world about the existence of Angelfire accounts composed and curated by you in 2015 is a sign of unyielding realness and security in oneself.

4. She turned Playboy into a thought-provoking publication of polemics and social criticism. While also professing her love for cats.

Not everyone can manage to have their Playboy interview be remembered for comments on racism rather than gorgeous pictures of them in the nude channeling a cat. Some nuggets of profundity from her interview:

"When you rip a people from their land, from their customs, from their culture—there’s still a piece of me that knows I’m not supposed to be speaking English, I’m not supposed to be worshipping Jesus Christ. All this shit is unnatural to me."

"The race thing always comes up, but I want to get there being very black and proud and boisterous about it. You get what I mean? A lot of times when you’re a black woman and you’re proud, that’s why people don’t like you. In American society, the game is to be a nonthreatening black person.

3. Her absolutely magnificent Hot97 Interview that gives Life.

With this interview, Azealia Banks coined the term “cultural smudging,” addressed centuries of cultural robbery from black people, and created a moment of much needed catharsis for people of color everywhere.

Here are some powerful points from the interview that every American needs to digest:

"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.”

"Everybody knows that the basis of modern capitalism is slave labor. The selling and trading of these slaves. There are fucking huge corporations that are caking off that slave money and shit like that. So until y'all motherfuckers are ready to talk about what you owe me, at the very fucking least, you owe me the right to my fucking identity. And to not exploit that shit. That's all we're holding on to with hip-hop and rap."

As Ebro said, “We need you.”

2. She is an incredible musician and performer.

Broke With Expensive Taste changed music. The beats are sick. The verses are crazy. Song after song, Banks takes different unexpected elements and churns them into a track that pulls you into it’s energy.

Her 2015 performance at Cochella...

was perfection.

1. Her Twitter.

Azealia Banks’ use of Twitter for social commentary is a public service vital to the consciousness of this country. People love to hate on her for being tactless or “targeting” too many people, however, as many have pointed out in defense of her, it speaks more to people’s discomfort of vocal black women than the content of her tweets. What haters describe as a “poor attitude,” I see as fearless honesty in the service of cultivating real resistance against white supremacy, patriarchy, and more. Here are a few of her most poignant tweets:

On Nicki Minaj’s wax figure:

More here.

On Kendrick Lamar’s comments about Ferguson:

In an interview with Billboard, Kendrick said this about the murder of unarmed teenager, Mike Brown by police officer, Darren Wilson:

“What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.”

Azealia Banks pointed out how problematic the statement was:

On Iggy Azalea’s silence after the Eric Garner verdict:

When Eminem said he wanted to punch Lana Del Rey in the face in his Shady CXVPHER:

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the mountain of things that makes Azealia banks one of the most insightful, brave, and honest human beings on the planet today. There are a handful of artists, let alone people, that will be candid about the world today. Many artists care more about their reputations and royalties than actually saying something of value or challenging boundaries their work. Azealia Banks represents the artist who has consistently chosen to care more about marginalized peoples, the quality of her art, and speaking her mind honestly than a successful PR campaign. The world should be grateful. Instead, it continually tries to silence and undermine her by attempting to discredit her opinions by calling them “rants”, “beefs”, “drama”, or characterizing her as an angry black girl.

Azealia Banks is an overwhelmingly talented artist who is passionate, real, and courageous in an industry that under-supports black female artists. She articulates many of the unheard concerns of young people of color today and this is why we should celebrate her as one of the most important voices of today.

© Inyourspeakers Media LLC