Azealia Banks, What’s The Beef?

Frazer Lough

A 19 year old Linguistics student, hailing from the great city of Newcastle. Technically a Geordie, definitely Northern.

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Every now and then the music world’s equivalent to Marmite sprouts up from nowhere. These artists are those that many people love or hate, and some even both. The latest? Azealia Banks.

The question is why are people’s opinions of the female rapper so polarized?  Banks garnered attention after appearing on NME’s ‘cool list’ in 2011, and then finished third in the BBC’s Sound of 2012. Following the release of her debut single, 212, she was well and truly on the map.  It is clear on one hand why she is loved by many; she is a truly talented female rap artist, and we don’t see those every day. Her song writing borders on the controversial, but the controversy doesn’t stop there.

Through the medium of twitter she has launched a number of tirades. Her first against Perez Hilton, another who shares a love/hate relationship with us ordinary folk. During this she referred to Perez as ‘a messy faggot’. This turn of phrase was considered by many to be a homophobic slur and saw the lovers and haters going down to the semantics of the very word. Banks even stepped in to explain what she meant by the use of the word, though many still found it to cause great offence. After a while Azealia apologised, not for the use of the word or even to Perez, but to those she had offended by using it.  Any apology is better than none, right?

After this she then launched a tirade against The Stone Roses. The beef this time was due to sound checks for the Stone Roses, who were headlining the Future Music Festival in Sydney, taking place during Banks’ performance. Who else was she then going to cause conflict with? Rita Ora, that’s who. Whilst touring with Ora, they came to blows over twitter, though many were left confused as to whether this was a joke or some genuine issue. It is safe to say her no nonsense Harlem brass is a reason many aren’t favourable of the star. However, for others this is a reason to love her. After all, many musicians guard their opinions and express hatred toward exes and rivals through song. This is not the case with Banks, and it seems to be working.

There is no doubt that many people love her for her music, mixing up beats and lyrics that you are sure to have planted firmly in your head for weeks. I found myself singing her hit ‘212‘ around the house completely oblivious to the fact that it was her song.  Her initial success has spawned numerous remixes which can still be heard playing up and down the country every Friday night. Female rappers are a rare breed, and those out there are seldom any good. However, it is her rapping that gathers Azealia so many fans. That said, there is a unique aspect of Banks that can be a little chilling. In a teaser video for ‘Yung Rapunxel’, the name she goes by on twitter, her eyes are replaced with duplicates of her lips, flashing tongue and teeth every so often. A little peculiar for my tastes.

A 21st century diva? The consensus among many is that her music is the main thing to like, whilst her attitude is something that could do with a little bit of home improvement. When she get it right in the studio she really gets it right and, in the music industry, that is what matters. Everyone loves to hate good musicians. They are naive if they think that everyone is going to love them. Clearly a talented musician, writer and rapper, I don’t see her disappearing anywhere soon. After all, her fans are still waiting for her debut album Broke with Expensive Taste to be released. The bigger question is, with her blunt, honest and straight talking New York City attitude, who will she share her next twitter spat with?

Vada‘s ready. Bring it.

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