Azealia Banks Says Black Men In Music Get Far More Chances Than She Ever Did As A Black Woman
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Normally when we’ve mentioned Azealia Banks’ name, it’s usually attached to some wildly inappropriate or offensive comment she’s made. In all fairness, she did raise some excellent points during her interview with Ebro on Hot 97.
But after that there was her support of Trump, her anti-Arabic, anti-gay, anti-Black men sentiments. Also, the incidents of violence. She’s rubbed people the wrong way. But, as Charing Ball once argued, in the context of the offensive things male creatives have said and done, she’s far from the worst.
The only difference is she’s a Black woman. And when there is little love for meek and well-behaved Black women, there certainly isn’t any for an outspoken, in your face Harlemite who has made more than her fair share of mistakes.
In a recent interview with XXL, Banks addressed her comments, took responsibility for them and explained why she’s been frustrated and disenchanted with the music industry but why she’s determined to keep pushing. Check out a few of the highlights below.
XXL: Do you have people within the spheres of the music industry you used to be in who still support you, or do you feel like you’re kind of shut out from where you were now?
I’m definitely shut out from where I was, 100 percent. People are very scared to be associated with me because of, you know, the controversy, I guess the skin bleaching or the “sand nigger” or the “faggot” thing. I’m not sad about it, I’m not disappointed at the situation. I’m disappointed with myself for sure. I’m a little disappointed in them, but not really.
I guess the source of my disappointment comes from just watching lots of other men in hip-hop, just like male rappers, have their career setbacks and go through things. Or even when a Black male rapper misspeaks something… just seeing Black men go through the motions, seeing the Black mass just kind of seemingly accepting it as just an attribute of their artistry. So they’ll be like, “Kanye West is saying all that because he’s crazy” or “Okay, yeah, R. Kelly raped a girl but damn, he makes some good music.” I don’t feel like I ever got that kind of empathy. I never got those kinds of privileges, I never got those kinds of allowances, especially coming in the rap game without any real rap friends. I basically came in the building by myself. There was nobody to validate me, there was nobody to vouch for me or whatever, and I got mishandled a lot.
It made me really bitter for a very long time, very, very, very bitter, so bitter to the point that I would just kind of say things that I didn’t mean, like, “I hate Black men” and shit like that. I would just say things like that because I would just feel so misunderstood. It was all purposeful, like when T.I. was threatening me with physical violence or when Jim Jones was threatening me with physical violence. Come on, hip-hop should have said something about it, and nobody said anything about it.
Even now, you guys have this guy XXXTentacion on the [XXL] Freshman cover, but he’s tweeted about how he thinks Black women are roaches and that we should die and how dark people are roaches and we should die and sh*t like that. It’s discouraging, and I’m not afraid to cry about it or afraid to admit that it hurts me now, rather than just going about things the wrong way and trying to fight fire with fire.
Hip-hop often feeds into the gimmicks its given by marketing people or label people.
It turns into a huge fucking problem, because you see the culture and you see these great artists kind of die very early artistic deaths because they’re getting into the business of being the best impression of themselves. And that’s what’s happened to Kanye West, that’s what’s happened to JAY-Z, that’s what’s happened to a lot of rappers. That’s what’s happened to Nicki Minaj. Drake is doing his best impression of himself time and time again.
I love Eminem. Eminem gets it. When he doesn’t have anything to say, he doesn’t say anything at all. He doesn’t cloud the hip-hop music hemisphere, he doesn’t use his socioeconomic methods to cloud this sphere with himself just because he wants to kill whatever up next, popping thing is happening. You see Kanye do it all the time. He uses his socioeconomic leverage to latch on to some other young act when it’s like… you know, it doesn’t help culture go, because what you have is these same 10 faces at the front of every cultural movement. It’s not healthy.
XXL: There was a lot of controversy around your skin-bleaching.
Well, I actually do have one skin lightening soap. It’s called Miss Amor, but that’s not the whole point of the Miss Amor movie, it’s a completely different thing. Skin lightening products can be used however you want to use them, you know? If you decide you want to take this skin-lightening bar and rub it all over your whole body then fine. Most people… it’s a treatment for things that are related to the detention of dead skin cells.
So some people who are overweight may have a black ring around their neck, and they’ll put the soap on their neck and the skin will come off, and then they won’t use it anymore. Or someone will maybe have bacne, black elbows or black underarms, and they’ll put it on their underarms and it will sloth off all the dead skin cells. Again, if somebody wants to take the soap and rub it all over their fuckin’ body, then that’s their prerogative. But the soaps are meant to be used as treatment, so you can use Miss Amor in your inner thighs. Some women have darkness in the inner thighs. Especially a lot of gay men, they feel really self-conscious about their genital area, like the butt, under the butt. In between the thighs they’ll have darkening from tight jeans rubbing, so they’ll wanna rub it in there and smooth the situation out.
For me, it’s not about changing the skin tone, it’s more about having uniformed skin. And when you saw me going through all the colors and the different skin tones, that was me testing the market myself. You need to test everything in the market, especially if you’re going to be doing this to kinda understand what the user experience is going to be like. I too have a little bit of a problem with acne flare-up due to a birth control I took, and my whole face just burst out. My face, my back, and I was just so desperate to get this shit off my face. So I started trying things. There were some things that made it worse, some things that made it better. But eventually, I just picked up an interest for it because I have my own problems to fix. And I started mixing things and making soaps, then I came up with these little formulas and I send them to a factory to have them made. A lot of people who are like, “Oh, you make your soap?” They think I’m putting fucking sugar and salt in my bathtub. I’m not… well, I did at first, but I didn’t sell any of my soap, I just had it made by a factory.
I have products for men. Especially a lot of Black men who have ingrown hairs on their chins or the back of their necks. I have peels for that. People have corns, bunions, stretch marks. Just anything that relates to the retention of dead skin cells, Cheapy XO has something for that. Next phase will be eczema and psoriasis.
XXL: What are some of the obstacles you find yourself facing in the music industry today?
Just the media itself ’cause clearly, everything is owned by White people—I’m tired of talking about White people. These media conglomerates have this socioeconomic leverage, and they can orchestrate any industry, and any story or any happening the way they want to. The music industry isn’t the only one that’s subjected to it. Hollywood is subjected to it, tech world, everybody. It’s just the media in general. I feel like it’s everyone’s biggest problem.
Even for people who are succeeding at playing the media game. They’re always crying about how they feel stifled and all that other shit. I think in the coming years, [the media] is gonna prove to be very detrimental to society’s social and psychological health.
I think the media does a lot to chastise people into… or just micro-manage people’s aggressions and chastise people into forming opinions. Especially in America, where the media is such a big part of our culture. Because we really drag ourselves down into Prozac nation on fucking steroids. But nobody cares, I’m just the Black bitch from fucking Harlem [laughs]. I’m just a Black b*tch from Harlem who only puts out one song a year. I’m joking.
You can read the rest of Azealia’s interview over at XXL.