As Marx once said, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The same can be said of celebrity culture which is, at this point, entirely predictable. Without even looking at my Twitter feed I could have guessed that Ariana Grande would get another regrettable tattoo, that Chris Brown would once again be arrested for violent behaviour and that Azealia Banks would go on another bizarre and offensive rant. And here we are.
For any lucky soul who has managed to avoid hearing about Azealia Banks, she is the American rapper known for ‘212’ and... well, that’s it. Jokes aside, Banks is actually a really talented musician who would probably be at the top of her game right now if it wasn’t for her endless feuds on social media.
To be fair to her, there have been times where I’ve thought she was in the right, such as when she called out Iggy Azalea for referring to herself a “runaway slave-master”. Situations like this had me thinking that Banks was just a young black woman speaking her mind, and that her critics were just threatened by that. A few homophobic slurs and a chicken sacrifice later, I’m thinking that may not be the only issue.
This time, the rapper has rustled feathers (the chicken? Get it?) for calling all Irish people “inbred”, “ugly” and illiterate after getting into a fight with a stewardess on her flight to Dublin. She also mocked the Potato Famine in her reply to an Instagram commenter asking: “Don’t you have a famine to go die in?” These are just a few examples of things she said; the abuse continued in various forms, stopping briefly during her Dublin concert where she called Irish women “beautiful”, then promptly continuing to hurl insults at the entire nation after the show. Oddly enough, people weren’t pleased with these remarks and Irish barrister Tomas McGarvey warned her via Twitter that she could face legal action if she continued to make racial attacks
The fight with the stewardess isn’t the first physical altercation Banks has gotten into. It isn’t even the first fight she’s gotten into on a plane, nor is it the first time she’s generalised an entire group of people in a negative way. As many have already pointed out she’s better known for her controversies than her actual music. So in our culture that “cancels” people at the drop of a hat, why is she still selling out shows?
In our culture that “cancels” people at the drop of a hat, why is she still selling out shows?
Despite her many flaws, Azealia Banks still resonates with people. Sure, there are many black female musicians who are equally talented and opinionated, but the fact remains that many of them are not breaking into the mainstream. For me, the question is not whether her behaviour is acceptable, because it clearly isn’t. The question is this: why is the only queer black female musician making headlines the one who is acting a mess?
Do I think that people who say and do horrible things should have a platform? No. But God knows there are men in the music industry who are just as trashy as Banks who are making her sales ten times over. Every musician and their grandmother has worked with Chris Brown despite his despicable behaviour, and tons of people are turning a blind eye to the fact that Drake is texting a fourteen-year-old giving her boy advice. I don’t think any of these people deserve public attention. But for Banks to finally fade out of relevance, there needs to be someone else replacing her. If you want successful musicians to be better people, turn your attention to the ones who deserve it.
Banks' Biggest Scandals
Elon Musk & Grimes Feud:
Grimes and Azealia were set to collaborate on Grimes’ second album, but things turned sour when Azealia claimed she had been sat waiting at Elon Musk’s house “for days” waiting for Grimes to appear. Azealia went on to suggest that Musk was tweeting “on acid” before claiming he was some kind of “subhuman caveperson”. All of this went down on Instagram stories, the perfect place to settle miscommunications and disagreements. Musk maintains that he never met Banks, so who really knows?
Grimes Feud (Screenshots Edition):
Following from that saga, Azealia recently shared screenshots of an apparent text conversation between herself and Grimes. The pair traded insults, including Grimes calling Azealia a “narc” and saying “at least I’m not fat”. Azealia’s response that Grimes “smells like a roll of nickels” brings some humour into this bizarre exchange.
Beyoncé on blast
After Beyoncé’s Coachella performance, Azealia took to Instagram stories to say “Beyoncé needs to get over herself and just hire me”. She suggested that Beyoncé’s choreographer had stolen original choreography from her and implied Beyoncé didn’t care about female empowerment by trying to “steal from talented women”. Coming for Beyoncé is an undoubtedly brave move, but the claims of chorerography theft remain unconfirmed...
Stone Roses Death Wish:
Exactly what you’d expect; Azealia wished for “nothing but excrement and death” on The Stone Roses after she believed they conspired against her to sabotage her set at a music festival. The Stone Roses remain alive and well.
Zayn Malik Racism:
Azealia entered a feud with Zayn after accusing him of stealing her work. When he responded with “I see you reaching but I don’t care”, Azealia launched into a horrific attack on his ethnicity, including calling him a “hair curry scented bitch”. Whereas it can be entertaining to raise an eyebrow at many of Azealia’s public spats, this racist vitirol is unexcusable. She apologised five months later...hmm.