Though controversial as a result of her all-too-often Twitter feuds, most recently with T.I., R&B artist and rapper Azealia Bank’s confrontational attitude really just shows how much of a fuck she doesn’t give – and she’s got the talent to back it up.
With hits like “212” in 2011, Banks burst into the music scene without much of a filter at all. The song feels like a challenge, her language is anything but ladylike, and the simplistic black and white vid just ends up feeling edgy as hell. Considering Bank’s difficult childhood and struggle to break into the industry, the anger palpable in the song is certainly understandable. Originally released as a part of her 1991 EP, “212” thrust her into the spotlight and made people really start to pay attention.
And how wouldn’t someone pay attention? “212” is loaded with sexual politics as the self-identified bisexual woman of color talks about cunnilingus with ease – and not just from the perspective of a straight woman getting it from a straight dude. She raps, “now she wanna lick my plum,” clarifying for any doubtful listeners that it is, indeed, a woman eating her out. Bank’s reclamation of the word “cunt” in itself is rebellious in a society where “the c-word” is deemed inappropriate and, in some circles, not even able to be reclaimed.
2012’s “Liquorice” released from 1991 as well, is also sexual and more explicitly race-charged (“tell me if you like your ladies in my color”) with a pump up beat. She throws around colors as well as euphemisms for colors, talking about white dude’s craving “black snatch” and not apologizing for it.
I have love for Azealia Banks for the same reason I have love for Nicki Minaj and Rihanna – she exists without apology. She’s rude, she cusses, she experiments with her appearance, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her shit. She’s not straight, and she doesn’t pretend to be, and she’s not white, and she doesn’t give anyone even a second to pretend that she is. In these ways, Banks gains my feminist support.
However, it is important to note that, at times, Banks is problematic due to the way she uses gay and transphobic slurs. Despite this, she was invited to 2014 L.A. Pride and absolutely killed it with vocals that undeniably place her high in the ranks of this year’s truly talented artists (6).
Keep up with Bank’s work by following her on Twitter. If nothing else, you’ll be sure to see some nice controversy going on while keeping up with her upcoming album, Broke With Expensive Taste, expected sometime this year.
Edited by Valerie Reich
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