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Azealia Banks: "I deserve respect"

Still as nutty as a loaf at a lesbian potluck.


zealia Banks made a Hanukkah song. It’s called Queen of Sheba, features a klezmer beat, and is, she says, “hot as fuck”. Not that it’ll see the light of day yet. Kanye West (AKA Ye) “fucked it up” by spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories, she says.

We’re speaking in mid-December, ahead of a new single that marks Banks’s return to a major label. By extension, it’s also a return to commentary – an art form the New York City-raised rapper has mastered as much as her diamond-hard and jaw-droppingly dexterous music – if a conflicted one. “I feel like Kanye has made it so garbage to be an entertainer with any opinion,” she says, before teasing her detractors: “If anybody was ever praying for Azealia Banks to finally shut the fuck up, Kanye has provided the platform.”

But over the course of two hours on Zoom this, naturally, turns out to be far from the truth. Banks speaks, with a charming and destabilising mix of irony and earnestness, about everything from her new home in Florida, to her one-time friend and collaborator Ye, to her place in the music industry – and why she has decided to return to a major label after splitting from Universal in 2014 and independently releasing some of her best singles ever.

Those songs – among them 2018’s glamorous self-confidence anthem Anna Wintour, the simmering 2021 Galcher Lustwerk collaboration Fuck Him All Night – supercharged a gen Z-led reappraisal of Banks as an innovator and prophetic commentator who had been unfairly pilloried. They set the stage for comeback single New Bottega, a booming, stylish house track and the launch of Banks’s second round in the spotlight. She’s bullish about its prospects: “I genuinely feel like, 13 years in, New Bottega might be my Hot 100 debut,” she says, sounding sanguine. Then she adds: “Even if that bitch debuts at 99, I’mma be like ‘A-ha-ha-ha-ha, bitch!’” (quote)

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by Anonymousreply 55January 23, 2023 12:19 AM

(cont.) In 2012, after the runaway success of her bratty and still-brilliant breakout single, 212, Banks signed to Interscope. After two years of label execs saying that her debut album in-the-making lacked hits, Banks grew “tired of talking to these white guys” and begged them to release her, and her record, from the contract. In 2014, she partnered with the label Prospect Park and released Broke With Expensive Taste to widespread critical acclaim. But the optics of leaving a major as a rising star are less than great; combined with Banks’s propensity for public fights, it seemed as if she was yet another internet success story who had burned through her talent early. Now, Banks is signed to Parlophone, because despite her recent DIY success, a major gets her closer to one specific goal: “I deserve respect,” she says, staring intensely down the camera. When not rinsing her peers or joking about haters, she is steadfast and dead serious.

Wearing a magenta T-shirt from her skincare company, CheapyXO, and a matching visor, clutching a glass of rosé, Banks explains that her reputation has outpaced her to a degree that has made life difficult. In 2019, she made headlines after being removed from a flight – an incident that Banks and other passengers said was instigated by an attendant asking if she was “going to be trouble”. In 2020, her former manager and Prospect Park head Jeff Kwatinetz sued her for extortion; Banks countersued for breach of contract, fraud and deceit, claiming Kwatinetz groomed her.

She is troubled by the idea that she is an easy target. “Even though I know that the internet is not a real place, there are enough people who take it seriously enough to feel like they can put their hands on me in real life,” she says, wearily. “They feel like they can launch frivolous lawsuits and use this villainous, stupid narrative against me. Even just trying to rent a house and have some peace, you run into these people who are like: ‘Oh, I can throw a rock at her, and if she throws a rock back, I can say look, she’s exactly as you say on the internet.’”

So Banks has stopped looking at what people say about her on the internet. The pandemic gave her a new clarity. She is speaking from a hotel room in Sydney in the midst of a contentious tour in which she and the promoter are engaged in a vicious public blame game over cancelled shows (the one topic her publicist deems off-limits) and turns her life lessons into clean aphorisms: “The same way you need to be careful about the things you eat, you have to be careful about the things that you read.” Now she wonders why she accepted criticism from “people who never knew me, never had any desire to ask me why I was always so sad, so angry. They would just write me off as a bad person.”

She says that she’s come to understand that the “selective” rules around acceptable conduct in the white media and on social media platforms will never serve her. She cites the “double standards” of Twitter, where she gets criticised for arguing with the likes of Perez Hilton but misogyny, racism and ableism run rampant. (“If I had a dollar for every Lady Gaga fan or Lana Del Rey fan that has called me a ‘nigger’ on Twitter, I might be a billionaire right now.”) In 2014, around when Black Lives Matter protests began in the US, Banks saw those double standards come into sharp relief. “All these very fucking graphic, psychologically terrorising videos of Black people being murdered circulated, pushed under the guise of being news,” she says. (cont.)

by Anonymousreply 1January 20, 2023 6:19 AM

(cont.) Banks realised that “we don’t have any rights here in America, unless you put your fucking phone down”, so she put her phone down. Besides, she found people online tiresome. “When it gets into like, ‘sexuality is politics’, oh my fucking god,” she says. “People on Twitter are talking about sex all damn day, and no one is fucking.”

Living alone in Los Angeles in 2020, Banks says she was “going through it” – “isolating and scared”, rapping every day, focusing on CheapyXO and becoming disenchanted with the politics of a city she characterises as shallow and virtue-signalling. “Every which way I turn [in LA] there’s a Black Lives Matter sign, and then we’re watching swathes of Latino people die every day because they’re considered essential workers,” she says. “There are no Latino Lives Matter signs. That’s not to negate any of the very real issues that Black people in America face, but in a rich state like California, in a neighbourhood like Silver Lake – here’s Jenny with her fuckin’ like” – she adopts a Valley girl accent – “biodynamic wine bar and her vegan cafe. She’s got a Black Lives Matter sign in the window, but sis, did you pay attention to papi who delivered the milk? Did he get a free cup of coffee? I had to go because I can’t do this – either Covid was gonna kill me, or depression. I’m going to fucking Miami.” Why Miami? In Florida, people “mind their fuckin’ business”, she says. Banks feels that the media lies about the oft-mocked Republican haven, and says she feels “way safer” there than in Los Angeles, where she feels that she needs a gun. Part of that, she claims, is down to the governor, Ron DeSantis, the Republican primary frontrunner whom she sees as more pragmatic than most political leaders. “He’s focused on the basic shit,” she says. “There are elderly people in our country without walkers, who don’t have the money to get a septic tooth pulled. If we’re talking about divvying up healthcare funds, those situations should take precedence to facial feminisation surgeries and stuff like that. I mean, I get it – but that’s a cosmetic surgery. Like, does your penis work? Can you pee? You’re not as in trouble as the older woman who can’t afford her dialysis. I think DeSantis is practical about a lot of things.”

Banks likes DeSantis for what she sees as some level of common decency, a quality she doesn’t see in a lot of people – least of all Ye, whom she collaborated with in 2012 on a handful of never-released songs. Banks brings him up, describing him as a “grifter”. As we speak, he’s been spouting antisemitic conspiracies and praising Hitler. Her problems with him began in earnest in 2020, when he said at a presidential campaign rally that he and then-wife Kim Kardashian had considered aborting their eldest child. “You’re a fucking idiot for basically sacrificing the mental health of your daughter,” she says.

Banks’s tone becomes one of disgust. She’s speaking from experience: she has said she comes from an abusive home and is troubled by the potential legacy of Ye’s outbursts on his children. “Just because you can’t get attention from Kim Kardashian, you turn it on your fucking daughter. Kanye, you’re an abusive asshole and you’re a pussy for picking on that little-ass girl. You are the last person we need to hear from about Black fatherhood and the Black family unit.” (cont.)

by Anonymousreply 2January 20, 2023 6:24 AM

(cont.) Banks says she saw this cruel streak in Ye when she first worked with him, but it hit her differently a decade ago, when she revelled in being his confidante. Back then, she says, “there was a culture in hip-hop that dark-skinned women were ugly,” she says. “To meet him and hear him talk shit about Kim Kardashian” – around the time they started dating – “it gave me a little bit of glee, because you’re young, and you’re dumb, and you don’t get it yet. When you’re getting all this messaging from hip-hop that you are exactly the type of Black woman that it doesn’t want, and then you meet someone that you like, because the music is so good, and he’s like: ‘I hate this white bitch’ – you’re like: ‘Yesss!’” Later she realised how naive she had been. “As time goes on, it’s like: ‘Wait, you hated my Black ass, too! You hate all women!’”

Does she believe there’s a way back for him? “I would hope not – because you have had it very fucked up for a very long time,” she says. “Kanye, did you know that the Bible was the very book used to enslave your dumb ass? Have you ever read the Bible? I’m sure you haven’t. ‘Oh, Hitler was a good guy’ – do you think Hitler liked negroes? It’s way past shock culture and just into stupidity. You deserve to reap what you sow. In the future, when you’re walking down Times Square and you see Kanye West drinking flat Sprite out of a McDonald’s cup out of the garbage can, you can bring it all back to this moment.”

When choosing collaborators now, Banks says it’s about “who’s putting the money on the table first”. She’s realised that “this is the music industry and not the music friends”, and that she doesn’t “have any time to be part of some weak white girl’s PR campaign about how Azealia Banks is a bad person”. She’s seemingly alluding to Grimes – in 2018, she arrived at the home of Elon Musk, then Grimes’s partner, to collaborate with her, only to end up deserted and stuck there, live-blogging as Musk tweeted jokes about Tesla stock while allegedly high on acid. She and Grimes shared screenshots of their hostile DM interactions and both artists were subpoenaed in a lawsuit against Musk. (Banks later apologised for the “seriously unexpected consequences” of her actions.) I ask for clarity but Banks has already moved on: “The girls gotta get to New Bottega levels before they’re getting spoken about by the don diva, by the everlasting diva,” she says of herself, in a hammy drawl.

Despite being back on a major label, Banks is trying to avoid industry nonsense, “to preserve my own natural ability to create and be inspired by music”, she says. “What is success in music any more? Nobody knows, and for the people who do know, it means scheduling your smiles and crafting some weird character. I think it’s really unfair that people call Azealia Banks a has-been – you are a never-was, and a never-fucking-will-be. You didn’t have the courage to put yourself out there because you were afraid you were going to fail, but I’ve had success. You only have to be right one time to be considered successful, and my batting average is very fucking high.” (cont.)

by Anonymousreply 3January 20, 2023 6:26 AM

(cont.) At this point, success, for Banks, is about “finding happiness after a long, dramatic childhood … What if I’m writing these songs as a form of redemption? That would blow an audience’s mind – you’re not doing this to entertain me?”

The past few years have been about Banks getting back to what she’s best at: tearing through beats with ferocity, wit and intense skill. She’s coy about future projects (“I’ve learned to be vague, because I’m working on 10m things”), but is excited about her new output. “People gotta catch up to New Bottega,” she says. “They’re gonna be like: ‘Oh shit, this is Azealia Banks? What has she been up to while we’ve been asleep?’” Fans are already familiar with Banks’s “ode to Italian luxury” – because she leaked it last September. It was available for less than a day and still made Pitchfork’s best songs of 2022 – “as it fucking should”, Banks says. “My music is good as shit! If you can’t get off to your own shit, then you probably should not be making music.

“I’ve done this by myself, with knives in my back, rocks thrown at me, kicked off cliffs. And I still keep coming back – you cannot get rid of me,” she says triumphantly. “Y’all have all the help in the world, y’all got writers, y’all got producers, y’all got fucking everybody! And you still sound like shit.”

by Anonymousreply 4January 20, 2023 6:26 AM

I will Love forever LOVE this bitch! I don’t care how 'nutty' you say she is she’s ten times more intelligent than your faves. She may not have their mainstream success but they dont have her bravery and gall. When look past the antics her music is quite good and the only thing that might save her credibility. I respect anyone who stands ten toes on their convictions "nutty" or not.

by Anonymousreply 5January 20, 2023 6:27 AM

I can’t believe I read the whole thing.

by Anonymousreply 6January 20, 2023 6:32 AM

I'm with r5. Say what you will but she is extremely talented. And I did not know this until I saw a range of her music vids on youtube about a year ago.

by Anonymousreply 7January 20, 2023 7:53 AM

She is exhausting.

by Anonymousreply 8January 20, 2023 7:58 AM

She would get a lot further if she realised SHE is the drama.

by Anonymousreply 9January 20, 2023 8:47 AM

She's a DeSantis supporter? What is the matter with her?

by Anonymousreply 10January 20, 2023 9:00 AM

She's a huge self-righteous and uncompromising mess, which is why she has gay fans despite her blatant acts of homophobia.

by Anonymousreply 11January 20, 2023 7:37 PM

R11 Just because she says something you do not like, it does not make her homophobic. She may just be stupid. I loved all the voodoo shit that came out, that is dangerous ground.

by Anonymousreply 12January 20, 2023 7:40 PM

Just because someone says faggot does not mean they’re homophobic. Context is very important. She’s a nightmare, but fascinating, and she gets it.

by Anonymousreply 13January 20, 2023 7:46 PM

She's up there delusionally with Kanye and Brit-Brit, but much more talented. She's phenomenal at everything she touches when she's on. I don't envy the crash back to reality she'd need to bring herself to sanity, though. And there little incentive, really. People as talented and as honest as she is about the industry (when she's not just crazy and vindictive) aren't rewarded when they're sane, unfortunately.

by Anonymousreply 14January 20, 2023 8:03 PM

If you use "faggot" as a put-down and you're not gay saying it to other gay men, you're homophobic. The extent to which you are homophobic can be debated, but the fact of your homophobia is not.

The End.

by Anonymousreply 15January 20, 2023 9:00 PM

[quote] She's up there delusionally with Kanye and Brit-Brit, but much more talented. She's phenomenal at everything she touches when she's on.

She's had nothing even close to the success of Kanye West or Britney Spears. She has yet to even have a top 10 album or single.

by Anonymousreply 16January 20, 2023 9:03 PM

R15 I believe Azealia is bi, so per your own rules (lol) she’s good.

[quote] The End.

Girl 😭

by Anonymousreply 17January 20, 2023 9:08 PM

R17 Whenever someone includes a crying/laughing emoji, that's a sure sign that they're actually seething.

by Anonymousreply 18January 20, 2023 9:15 PM

She’s a nutcase Black Nationalist. Doesn’t she have a chicken or cat to slaughter?

by Anonymousreply 19January 20, 2023 9:18 PM

[quote] Just because someone says faggot does not mean they’re homophobic. Context is very important. She’s a nightmare, but fascinating, and she gets it.

Shut up, Azealia. Tell us how Zayn is a dirty Paki again.

by Anonymousreply 20January 20, 2023 9:20 PM

R15 So. Every rap artist of all time is homophobic, because they all use faggot.

by Anonymousreply 21January 20, 2023 9:20 PM

[quote] Every rap artist of all time is homophobic, because they all use faggot.

Yep. Anyone who does is, unless they are themselves a gay man, and then it's complicated.

by Anonymousreply 22January 20, 2023 9:22 PM


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by Anonymousreply 23January 20, 2023 9:23 PM

R22 If an actor says faggot for a role, are they homophobic?

by Anonymousreply 24January 20, 2023 9:23 PM

R21 gives her a pass because she’s black and Yaaasss Queen!

by Anonymousreply 25January 20, 2023 9:25 PM

She makes sense actually and I still kind of like her. She's very talented and bright but has serious emotional regulation problems due to childhood trauma. I hope the next album will be as good as Broke with Expensive Taste.

by Anonymousreply 26January 20, 2023 9:27 PM

R16- She's batshit crazy and a mean, angry person, but infinitely more talented than both of them. Popular success rarely reflects talent. "Anna Wintour," if you can get past the fake tits in the video, is better than anything either have done, re: singing/rapping in their entire careers. And she dances well.

She's still a terrible person, mental illness or not. But Kanye and Britney are both pretty awful too, so 🤷🏻.

by Anonymousreply 27January 20, 2023 9:32 PM

For reference. ^

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by Anonymousreply 28January 20, 2023 9:33 PM

Didn't this idiot sacrifice animals that she held in her closet? Fuck her

by Anonymousreply 29January 20, 2023 9:36 PM

Keep proving to us that she has no talent, r28.

by Anonymousreply 30January 20, 2023 9:39 PM

R30- Okay.

by Anonymousreply 31January 20, 2023 9:41 PM

A lot of fun, a lot of talent, very CLUBBY, very crazy.

by Anonymousreply 32January 20, 2023 9:44 PM

R32 What's her talent?

by Anonymousreply 33January 20, 2023 9:47 PM

A certain kind of club music R33. If that's not your cup of tea, you obviously won't enjoy her.

by Anonymousreply 34January 20, 2023 9:49 PM

212 is one of the greatest songs of the 21st century. Azelia Banks is one of the nuttiest artist of 21st century.

Genius and crazy often go hand in hand. But unlike the ones today, past music geniuses didn't have so much malice and racist or tribalism mentality.

by Anonymousreply 35January 20, 2023 9:55 PM

New Bottega has the gritty sound of the first wave of House in the 80s. It's pavement glitter, borderline ugly, and slap dash well done. Most people who revive early house prefer the glam and production sheen impact. This is the ghetto vibe, which is just as legit.

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by Anonymousreply 36January 20, 2023 9:57 PM

Her downside is that she has a very narrow range and nobody wants to work with her to enlarge it and she probably doesn't want to.

by Anonymousreply 37January 20, 2023 9:59 PM

[quote] 212 is one of the greatest songs of the 21st century.

Said no one ever.

by Anonymousreply 38January 20, 2023 10:14 PM

Her other downside is she's batshit crazy, and no obody want to work with her because of that, either.

by Anonymousreply 39January 20, 2023 10:25 PM

I thought it was understood in my post at R37 that her crazy is why people stay away.

by Anonymousreply 40January 20, 2023 10:28 PM

She has anger problems but even in her Instagram rants you can tell there is an intelligence there. She has expansive vocabulary and and a good way with words honestly. She's far smarter than Kanye and Brit thats for sure. I don't think she's crazy but more on the angry, resentful side of things.

by Anonymousreply 41January 20, 2023 11:49 PM

[quote] Yep. Anyone who does is, unless they are themselves a gay man, and then it's complicated.


by Anonymousreply 42January 20, 2023 11:53 PM

R34 She has one album that was released almost ten years ago. And on that album there isn't a single song that she wrote, there's always her and a shitload of other people. She doesn't play any instrument on that album. So exactly what is her talent, apart from trolling and attention whoring on Tinder, torturing and sacrificing animal?

by Anonymousreply 43January 21, 2023 9:44 AM

You're entitled to your take R43. I have ZERO interest in a debate.

by Anonymousreply 44January 21, 2023 9:51 AM

R44- It's okay. That poster spends most of their time on here talking about Taylor Swift's sexuality. I don't think this is really their conversation.

by Anonymousreply 45January 21, 2023 1:51 PM

cool 😍

by Anonymousreply 46January 21, 2023 2:00 PM

BPD vs. BAD, but talented as hell.

by Anonymousreply 47January 21, 2023 2:48 PM

R45 Wtf are you talking about, dumbass?

by Anonymousreply 48January 21, 2023 5:34 PM

R48- Your comment history.

by Anonymousreply 49January 21, 2023 6:20 PM

R49 Okay, I see. You are an idiot. My bad.

by Anonymousreply 50January 22, 2023 9:23 AM

R50- It's okay, dear. Most of the other trolls here are ignorant about post history, too.

To respond to your unrelated comment, though, yes I do think Taylor Swift has done some light queerbaiting in the past.

by Anonymousreply 51January 22, 2023 6:25 PM

We know society doesn't like outspoken, intelligent and talented dark skinned women. White celebrities have said stupider shit and have been forgiven. Granted Azealia is a very self-hating black woman. Black men get away with worse too like Clarence Thomas, Kanye West and Hershel Walker. Azealia's only crime is speaking her truth and being raw about it like an NYC hood chick she is.

by Anonymousreply 52January 22, 2023 7:50 PM

Yes R52.

I find her interesting.

by Anonymousreply 53January 22, 2023 8:55 PM

Preach, so sistah!

by Anonymousreply 54January 22, 2023 8:59 PM

They are not on the same level at all R54 that angry loser wishes she had Azealia's intellect and wit. No comparison.

by Anonymousreply 55January 23, 2023 12:19 AM
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