We Still Want More of Azealia Banks

The topic of Azealia Banks is no easy feat. While she is, without a doubt, beautiful and infinitely talented, she’s also a frustrating mix of obscenity and truth. Much needed truth, that is. However, I’m not going to lie, sometimes she makes it nearly impossible for her fans to defend her between the name-calling and violent outbursts. And though it seems logical to simply write her off altogether as an attention seeking brat, I really don’t think we should throw in the towel regarding Azealia, just yet.Banks has all the moxie and fearlessness of a true hip hop artist and this is, by far, her greatest strength and worst weakness. She says whatever she wants whenever she deems it necessary. With no condoning of her penchant for unapologetic slur hurling, her strengths and weaknesses undoubtedly make her a double edge sword.

Banks has all the moxie and fearlessness of a true hip hop artist and this is, by far, her greatest strength and worst weakness. She says whatever she wants whenever she deems it necessary. With no condoning of her penchant for unapologetic slur hurling, her strengths and weaknesses undoubtedly make her a double edge sword.

She has tried to explain herself. More recently, helping her followers, fans, and foes to understand that because she identifies as bisexual, and thus is apart of the LGBT community, the term ‘faggot’ is not being used as a derogatory slur against gays, but as a general put down. O…K, I guess. But, as futile and myopic as her explanation is, it’s no different than her contemporaries and predecessors. Rappers like Eminem, Tupac, and Tyler the Creator have rightfully been called out plenty of times for misogyny and homophobia. They’ve given similar excuses and were eventually pardoned. They have also been equally lauded for their ingenious lyricism. Tupac and Eminem are associated with rap royalty; they’re praised as outspoken legends. Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna have both causally used the term ‘nigger’, which they both claimed was being used as a term of endearment. The media hastily accepted their explanations, moved on from their “faux pas”, and proceeded to continue fawning over their favorite A-listers. My point?

Azealia is just as gifted and strongly opinionated as the entertainers mentioned above, so why was she being groomed as the newest face of the angry millennial Black woman, during her uphill career in 2015?

The polarizing singer may have a long list of transgressions, but that doesn’t negate the fact that she has bravely challenged some major social issues. I admire her courage as a celebrity, speaking candidly on matters of injustice. Her interviews are engaging and full of insight. In one of her most thought-provoking discussions last year on radio station Hot 97, she opened up about Black culture being strategically “smudged” out of existence. Banks passionately addressed the negative portrayal of Blacks in everything from history books to slave themed movies. This interview offered a rare yet invaluable glimpse into Azealia Banks the artist, a sensitive old soul with an unlimited amount of potential. I didn’t see a manufactured celebrity reciting the perfect sound bite; I saw a razor sharp human being struggling with raw emotion. Every time she lashes out I think about the abuse and trauma she endured as a child, the daily pressure she is faces a creative artist, and the obstacles she must overcome as a woman. Furthermore, I also believe we’re witnessing an individual emerging from the post racial society dream that we were all lulled into accepting. Many of us are waking up, still groggy and complacent from the anesthesia of deceit, but some of us are waking up swinging in every direction. Banks is the latter. None of this will ever excuse some of the inexcusable things that she has said and done, but I’m willing to bet she will grow from these experiences. She will take the world by storm, and we won’t see it coming.

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