Azealia Banks is the female version of Kanye West when it comes to public persona: highly talented and smart, but incredibly polarizing. Few artists would appreciate that comparison, but let me explain. I’ve been following her career since “212” and since then, I’ve been conflicted with Banks as a fan. I’ll always appreciate her extensive knowledge on Black feminism and America’s race relations that at times have been more clear and adept than most talking heads on news network right now. But I’ve also cringed at Banks, feeling exasperated on the occasions where she’s acted belligerent toward anyone with an objecting opinion.
Upon the arrival of her provocative Playboy cover story, the common conundrum with Banks came up again.
From Azealia Banks: Wild And Uncensored For Playboy, I came across the same explosive quotes sensationalized by others. Once I got past the sex, social media and music, she gave an impassioned perspective on Black America and why she’s chosen to forgo the Christian faith. It all prompted me to question, is Azealia Banks just misunderstood?
Playboy‘s Rob Tannenbaum asked, “Are your creative impulses closely related to your destructive impulses?”
“Yes,” she responded. “In my adulthood I’m having to destroy all these things society really wants you to think. The history textbooks in the U.S. are the worst if you’re not White. “The White man gave you the vote. He Christianized you and taught you how to speak English. If it weren’t for him, you’d still be living in a hut.” I could write a book about why Black people shouldn’t be Christians. Young Black kids should have their own special curriculum that doesn’t start from the boat ride over from Africa. All you know as a Black kid is we came here on a boat, we didn’t have anything and we still don’t have anything. But what was happening in Africa? What culture were we pulled away from? That information is vital to the survival of a young Black soul.”
That’s the Azealia Banks that I rock and roll for. The conscientious girl from Harlem who often goes overlooked. Last year, her Hot 97 interview was so well received because we got to see and hear her speak free of restrictions, but most importantly, on topics that matter a lot more than her beefs with “Igloo Australia”, T.I., or whoever.
“So everybody knows that the basis of modern capitalism is like slave labor, which is really just the selling and trading of slaves. There are huge corporations still caking off that slave money and shit like that. So until y’all *expletives* ready to talk about what you owe me. Whether the number’s 7 trillion or 9 trillion, at the very *expletive* least y’all owe me the right to my *expletive* identity and to not exploit that shit. *cries* That’s all we’re like holding on to.”
Later on she added:
“I talk about so many different things on my Twitter. Y’all *expletive* pick and choose what y’all want to see. All of these Hip-Hop guys [on the blogs and sites] that are supposed to be so influential and so instrumental are a part of creating the bad image of Azealia Banks.”
And people actually listened. It was hard not to. Cultural appropriation has become scarily normal. And, a portion of the Black youth are still unaware about true Black heritage. Like other challenging personalities, (the Kanyes of the world) her message seems to get lost in their delivery. I don’t always agree with her behavior, but I understand the undercurrent of her commentary. (And her album Broke With Expensive Taste was fantastic and underrated.)
Like a big sister, I sometimes want to tell Banks not every news story is worth starting an uproar. As any Black women in America will tell you, we see sh*t everyday that makes us angry and question humanity. But as a fan, I’m tired of seeing her message and talent overshadowed for Internet hits and clicks.
Her honest and educated opinions on being Black in America, and a Black woman in America, deserve to be heard because when she directly reaches out to her sisters and brothers, her presence is more regarded and innately appreciated. In simpler words. Girl! Relax! We got you.