Hey RZA, Why is Azealia Banks “Erratic” When Ol’ Dirty Bastard Was “Misunderstood”
This post is not about your personal feelings for Azealia Banks.
But rather it’s about the tolerance, understand and dare if I say, glee we all seem to get when men behave badly versus when women do it.
If you haven’t heard, the unsigned hype got into a little tiff with Gladiator star Russell Crowe.
According to various reports, it started after Banks said something smart-alecky about Crowe’s music taste at a hotel party. And to make a long bit of drama short, the incident ended with Banks allegedly being manhandled, spit-on and called the N-word by Crowe after she was allegedly cursed and threatened with a bottle by another party-attendee.
Honestly, it is hard to say who is wrong or right. Everyone already knows about Banks’ long and sordid history of erratic behavior. But quite honestly, Crowe isn’t a saint either. And he too has a pretty long and sordid history of erratic and violent behavior of his own (Here is a list).
Therefore, I believe the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.
Still, what piqued my interest is what RZA had to say about the incident.
You see, he was at the party too. And after Banks called him out for failing to come to her defense – the same way the White woman came to Crowe’s defense, he decided to explain his side of the story.
Here is the post, but just in case FB takes it down, here is what he wrote:
Normally I don’t respond to negative social media attacks towards me. Yet in this case of Azealia Banks I’m compelled to respond.
Firstly I only wish the best for her and any struggling artist in this complex industry.
Azealia was brought to my attention while I was casting my next Film Coco. I heard the rumors of her problems in the industry but disregarded them with the rationality everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So my producer and I fought for her to be in the film and we succeeded. During the filming process things ran smooth and she delivered. Thus my only experience with her had been professional. The only brief social moment was at the wrap party. Therefore “I HAD NO REAL EXPERIENCE OF HER SOCIAL BEHAVIOR…”
A few weeks ago Azealia hit me up for some economic help and bong I gave a helping hand.
She then followed up asking me to help her get a record deal.
I called a friend and bong a record deal was on the table. The only clause my buddy gave was I be the filter because the word is “she is volatile”.
I called her and told her a deal was in the workings. She immediately, prematurely went to social media and claimed she signed a deal with RZA Yet no deal was signed.
I didn’t respond or comment to her post because I’m not the type to stop the hustle.
I actually wanted her to win.
I advised her to stay focus, leave social media and tabloids alone and let your music and art do your talking.
She then hits me for a ticket to LA to work and Bong I comply.
She then needs a place to stay and bong I put her in a hotel.
I returned to LA shortly after and we scheduled a meeting.
I invited her to meet me at the BHH Polo Lounge. Yet I head also planned on spending some time with my Buddy RC in his suite so I ask him can she join. He says “cool Bobby” so I invited her.
Before the night is over Azealia is insulting half the room she becomes loud and obnoxious.
There was nothing funny about her behavior. I felt a little embarrassed because she was my guest.
Still verbal abuse can be tolerated but when it goes physical…
Azealia threaten to cut a girl in the face with a glass, then actually grabs a glass and physically attacks for no logical reason.
Russell blocked the attack and expelled her from the suite.
Seeing is believing and I saw her behave as an obnoxious erratic individual and in the circles I frequent this was unprecedented. I was totally puzzles by her and thought maybe meds or booze or something had her zoned out.
Nevertheless I made sure she got home safe.
THIS IS NOT A RACE OR GENDER ISSUE.
I did not hear Russell call her a N::gg::::
I’m not trying to protect Russell from anything he is a man of his own Caliber.
My art, talent and success speaks for it self and Azealia’s recent slander of me and self victimization reflect’s the personality of the person that was in that room that night.
I have a wife, daughters, sisters and females on my staff so I protect women everyday.
I pray none of them ever behave the way I witnessed Azealia Banks behaved that night.
The RZA would elaborate further with TMZ, telling Harvey that while he did see Crowe spit on Banks, he still believes the actor to be justified in man-handling her.
But Kara Brown at Jezebel astutely noted in her recap of the incident, the RZA’s comments verge on paternalism and condescension, in particular “outlining the apparent many good deeds he’s done for Banks before blaming her squarely for the altercation.”
It’s hard to make it seem like Banks is some sort of charity case when he is also capitalizing off of her problematic image for his new film…
But besides that, what I find most odd about the RZA’s comments were how exceptional they were. He calls Banks “obnoxious” and “erratic” and claims embarrassment. As if this kind of behavior is new or foreign to him.
But he is also the same man who co-founded the Wu-Tang Clan with the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. A rapper who was notorious – and even respected – in the industry for exhibiting the same obnoxious and erratic behavior.
- Being arrested multiple times for failure to pay child support for his 13 children.
- Being convicted of second degree assault and attempted robbery in 1993.
- Getting shot in stomach in 1994 after an argument with another rapper.
- Pleading guilty to attempted assault in 1998 following a domestic altercation with his wife.
- Getting arrested in 1998 for shoplifting a $50 pair of shoes at a Virginia mall.
- Becoming a fugitive in 2000 after escaping from a drug treatment program
- And so forth and so on..
Ol’ Dirty would eventually succumb to drug addiction and pass away at the age of thirty-five.
But despite all of his erratic behavior, the “Like It Raw” rapper is often regarded as a misunderstood genius. As noted by this Huffington Post piece, which memorialized him on the 10th anniversary of his passing:
“Examining ODB, a fascinating personage in and of himself, also offers insights into institutions and logics that help shape black sociopolitical life — specifically, the welfare state and the criminal justice system on the one hand and, not unrelated, distrust of government and racial suspicion on the other. Although Dirt’s drug use and suspected mental illness obscured these insights, a critical inquiry into his life and archive highlights some of the unpleasant features of American race relations; it also illustrates the point that some of the most elucidating case studies are of those that we commonly dismiss as eccentric or “crazy.”
Or more relative, what the RZA had to say himself about the importance group’s co-founder (and his cousin):
“An apple tree just grows up as a tree first,” RZA says. “If you cut it down, it’s just wood. But if it continues to grow, it produces fruit, and then it grows even more and that fruit will fall off the tree and produce more trees. But somebody like ODB, Pac or Biggie were strong trees that were cut down early, so we didn’t get a chance to see the full blossom of what they would’ve done.”
Here’s the thing: I can totally understand that folks change. And perhaps after some growth, the RZA has decided he no longer wants to associate with certain kinds of behaviors he might have excused in his younger years.
But what is missing from the RZA’s response is empathy. The same kind, which allows him to look past and ignore ODB’s erratic behavior and remember him fondly. The same kind he will likely want us to have for ODB in the upcoming biopic he is producing.
Hip-Hop has long been home to mental illness, substance abuse and other eccentric behaviors and attitudes. Yet somehow these traits, which are seen as genius, entertaining, rockstar-ish and culturally reflective when wrapped in the skin of Black men, always becomes unacceptable when embodied by Black women.
Even as women like Banks hail from the same troubled and alienating communities and backgrounds as their male counterparts, and often speak their own truths of what it is like to be poor, Black and woman, their realities are rarely treated with respect – not by folks like Crowe. And not even by their own brothers like the RZA.
And while the RZA, through an all-cap retort, wants us to believe his throwing Banks under the bus, “ IS NOT A GENDER OR RACE ISSUE,” it totally is.
Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and the reigning queen of unpopular opinions. She is also from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit NineteenSeventy-Seven.com.