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Azealia v. Azalea

The proliferation of “beefs” as marketing devices has damaged the cultural currency of what used to be very interesting lyrical fistfights. While Kanye West and 50-Cent’s “beef” of 2009 smacks of energetic PR wizardry, the more recent squabble between MCs Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks features enough violence in its rhetoric to suggest a genuine article.

In case you’ve missed the hype machine’s recent churnings, Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks have earned distinction in the past months as two of the hottest upcoming rappers in the game. Azalea scored a berth on XXL magazine’s 2012 Freshman Class and Banks’s singles have attracted Pitchfork.com’s Best New Music endorsement like a flashlight attracts moths. Banks is a bisexual who hails from Harlem, Azalea a white girl from Australia.

Problems began with the track “D.R.U.G.S.”, on which Azalea injudiciously referred to herself as a “runaway slave master”.

Circumstantial evidence (including sympathetic testimony from A$sap Rocky) suggests that Azalea suffers more from poor judgment than outright prejudice. However, her momentary lapse of character proved sufficient to raise of the ire of Azealia Banks, who, in retrospect, should top everyone’s master list of “Chicks Not to be F****ed With”.

Never a stranger to merciless turns of phrase, Banks dropped “F**** Up the Fun” not long after the arrival of “D.R.U.G.S.”. While Banks fails to specify which “n***as” she specifically plans to “smack in the face”, her public denunciations of Azalea leave little to the imagination.


Even as Azalea clumsily backpedals over her lyrical foibles, siding with the Australian MC looks an ever-more-difficult prospect. The pitch of Banks’s outrage at least gives it the appearance of authenticity, and her grievances make their own case with valiant aplomb. A conscious lack of self-censorship not only forms a large part of Banks’s appeal, it also serves as the MC’s ideological manifesto. Banks has spoken fearlessly about being bisexual, combative and legendarily concupiscent. In an environment in which offense is relegated to the realms of expediency, legitimate acrimony becomes worthy of attention in its own right. A willingness to say shit without fear as to its consequences makes Azealia Banks a compelling public figure and (more importantly) an irresistibly talented rapper.


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About the Author


Shane Danaher's affection for pop music has peppered his adult life with a variety of aesthetically rewarding and financially disastrous decisions. After moving to Portland, Oregon for college (because that's where he heard Modest Mouse was from) Shane has wound up participating in the music world in roles ranging from 'drummer' to 'promoter' to 'bathroom floor scrubber.' He has toured without money, written about almost every band ever to have come out of the Pacific Northwest, and one time traveled all the way to Los Angeles just to see a catch hip-hop show. He currently resides in Portland, where he writes about hip-hop, pop and rock music for a variety of publications. He still plays drums. He wants to meet Kanye West.

Posted in: Hip Hop Music


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