On the morning of July 16th, 2018, I can vividly remember scrolling through Instagram with one eye open, I peeked on my girl Azealia Banks’ story and sis immediately had me in my bed, snapping, laughing and clapping. It’s so refreshing, she is, to me, one of today’s young Black women with a platform – you don’t have to agree with how she uses it – that actually GETS IT. Gets what? you ask? The real struggles that we as Black women face, that the rest of society keeps turning a blind eye to.
She recently did a taping with the cast of Wild N Out as a guest performance and things went left; Azealia explained on her highly publicised Instagram story that she was blindsided and ultimately ambushed, what was supposed to be a simple performance/appearance on the comedy show, turned into a roast-session specifically highlighted around her dark skin tone, and her physical appearance.
Some believe she should’ve just held her own and rolled with the punches. Personally, if I was asked to perform, and then plans changed to that which are unfavourable and don’t benefit my brand last minute, I’d be annoyed and caught off guard too, free gig or not! Period. I think the lesson there was always stay true to yourself.
Oh, and Azealia won’t back down, not even for the Beyhive. Over this past weekend she came under fire for comments made against Beyoncé. Her main points being:
One of Azealia’s former dancers gave choreography done with Azealia to Beyoncé
2. Beyoncé is a hypocrite who promotes female empowerment but steals from other women
3. Beyoncé should humble herself and acknowledge the works of other women she’s “inspired” by
4. “We don’t need any more Beyoncé thot moments, she seems to want to be “regular”.
Honestly, where’s the lie? This, I’m sure, is an unpopular opinion but let’s go over the facts since people are really mad about with this one. Beyoncé HAS been in the hot seat before, for stealing choreography and performances from other works and using it as her own. She definitely has made more of a social media presence in the last year, and seems to want to fit in with the other IG girls (I know the Beyhive feels this deep down, but will never outwardly admit… it’s true.) What people fail to understand is that, Azealia does not care about bringing things like this to light, never cared and never will. She has come for a lot of people’s faves on her social media and this is nothing new.
The beyhive weren’t too happy, she ruffled everyone’s feathers and might’ve lost a few more fans for stating her opinion. People can no longer say that she’s doing it for attention or clout; she literally just expresses herself, she opens dialogue, she states the unpopular opinion, she thrives in that “loner” life within the music industry by proud choice, and I don’t blame sis. Let’s not leave out the fact that she LOVES Beyoncé (she definitely brought up shady things she feels Beyoncé’s done in interviews before and didn’t care, and people forgot about that and moved on to whatever else was happening.) Azealia is just like us, she just happens to be an artist speaking on how she’s seeing things from her point of view, she a free thinker with a seemingly subjective opinion that everyone keeps mistaking for “negative hater.” News flash: all these music industry folks, artists, producers, label execs, are fake. Anyone who knows someone or who is themselves fully emerged in the music scene (raises index finger) knows this.
Let’s briefly touch on the context. Azealia’s music speaks for itself; we will not do her like that, because sis is talented. Not everybody “likes her” (cool who cares), but is there more to it? Are people just mad at the self-acclaimed “weird black girl in a room full of masculine hip-hoppity men?” I truly do believe people hate what they don’t want to face themselves and what they can’t control. Azealia seems to be completely comfortable with herself, with her fans and music, she’s candid about the mistakes she’s made, and open when it comes to her thoughts on pretty much anything (she’s even called herself out for over exaggerating and having inner jokes with herself and not letting folks in on it.) I always tell my friends that she’s just saying the unpopular opinion, the stuff everybody in the industry whispers about (you can’t “not like” Beyoncé, she can stop checks), but never really does anything about. She’s constantly coined the crazy and bitter one, this is too relatable! No one likes to hear the truth.
How many artists have gone unnoticed? They write for household names, might put out one debut (execs patting them on the back) and then sent back to their hometown? This is because a lot of the music industry’s success stems from the art of using small name resources for big name outcomes. To be honest, I myself am a proud member of the Kunt Brigade (Azealia’s fan base) and the Beyhive (Beyonce’s fan base). I love both women, and I think both individually are amazing artists, Beyoncé is obviously on the larger scale but she’s not perfect like a lot of her fans make her out to be. Azealia herself is still human, still an individual and still a music lover who doesn’t kiss famous ass to fit in or get ahead. She’s also stating her god given right to free speech with every breathe. When people feel likes she’s hating, being negative, tearing down fellow women in music, being a crybaby, I say… she’s being herself unlike most of these artists coming out that fake it till they make it or don’t make it.
A Black woman, unafraid, unapologetic, and unappreciated, is always a force to be reckoned with. As a dark-skinned young woman on the outside looking in, scrolling down my timeline, I’m seeing this unappreciated and misunderstood Black woman be torn down and the feeling feels all too familiar.
I feel that dark-skinned women not only in hip-hop but in the music industry generally, come last on the totem pole of “should we give a f*ck”. With the racial differences, along with being a Black woman, we sometimes must carry the weight of the Black male on our shoulders, coddle him in some cases, and shelter him from harm’s way. As it relates and unfolds into today, I see that same thing happening. We defend our problematic faves; rappers who beat women, rapists etc., then turn around and condemn and drag our free-speaking (strong and empowered by our struggles) Black women. A Black woman’s reputation diminishes with every negative blow we take from Black men and I only mention them because they are our direct peers, the ones who are supposed to be the first to help lift our voices to the forefront. A lot of these quiet folks on the come up, don’t have that same ability or backbone for their own specific reasons and that’s fine, for them, and their fanbase… just not for Azealia. She’s made it very clear she can say whatever she wants, she can apologise, she can be human just like the rest of you and still put out amazing music while doing it. I’m not mad at her, but I can see why others who aren’t familiar with or who go hard for people she’s discussed, would be. However, in the music industry it seems as though Black women are not only going to toe to toe with their male peers, but with themselves, which pushes us further away from really being understood/represented in a positive light.
I believe that preference is preference, we speak on things we don’t like about the music industry just like she does. Azealia isn’t some girl y’all can just drag because she said something most people disagree with, and not feel that heat after, which I admire! Personally, I’ve grown to be prepared for people trying to come for me when I speak my mind (I know the Black female opinion isn’t popular), but I guess that’s the price we all pay when we tap into social media, but then again who really wants to defend themselves all the time when you have a huge following? When are we going to just let artists be people? I don’t think Azealia begs for fans, attention or for confirmation, she’s living in her truth and expressing herself; the good, the bad and the not so appreciated.
Written by Brianna Aubry