Azealia Banks is one of hip hop’s lost talents. Most known for her 2011 smash-hit ‘212’, the rapper, who can sing and act as well, was one of the only rappers in the world who could rap over house music without sounding unauthentic or disingenuous. Banks was a true fan of house, knew house music and wasn’t just using it for fame.
However, one thing that the young 20-year-old Banks didn’t understand when she found fame is that when you find fame, you can’t unleash that inner-city fire on people because, unlike before, you now have millions of people watching you.
Many artists make this mistake and don’t reach as far as they should because they remain under the impression that they can still talk and act the way they did before they were famous, which is a complete falsehood. However, although at first, it seemed punk and rebellious in a cool sort of way, when the so-called radical statements started to include racial slurs, homophobic language and body shaming, the line was crossed. With no remorse shown, people instantly disengaged from Banks, her brand and her music.
However, she has evolved over the years and is far better at articulating her thoughts now than a decade ago when she was young and wild. Despite the fact that there were admittedly some expletives and unnecessary things said by the rapper, she hits home some uncomfortable truths every now and then, which is the case when she dissected Cardi B.
Cardi B is from the Bronx but was born to a Dominican father and a Trinidadian mother. However, many speculate whether the latter is true as she has never done anything but represent Latinx people. Cardi B is what many describe as “racially ambiguous”, which has become an uncomfortable political buzzword. However, in her interview with The Breakfast Club, Azealia Banks broke down the racial and gender double standards that have allowed people like Cardi B and Kanye West to succeed while she has stayed stagnant.
Azealia Banks labelled Cardi B an “uneducated, illiteral rat”, calling her a typical “Audobon Avenue b*tch” on Twitter. However, the crux of her beef with Cardi B is not only something that the majority of African-American women agree with. It is something they loathe which is Cardi B can behave in a vulgar, sexual and uneducated manner and get praised for it, whereas they know if it were a phenotypical black woman she would be looked down on.
Talking to DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God, Banks stated, “It’s this caricature of a black woman that black women themselves would never be able to get away with… like, if my spelling and grammar were that bad, I would be cancelled.” She continued, “I don’t understand the extreme lack of couth. I’ve never seen that at the forefront of female rap I didn’t think that the standards and the bar would be lowered so much”.
This hit home for many people, from having lyrical conscious people like Lauryn Hill at the forefront of rap making songs like ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ to having someone like Cardi B making ‘WAP’ is scary and somewhat concerning. Furthermore, there are many, many girls behaving and acting like Cardi B. Take, for example, Sukihana from Love And Hip Hop Miami. She is very similar in her behaviour, yet, she has not been offered the same opportunities as Cardi B.
Cardi B is known for having a ghost-writer by the name of Pardison Fontaine, who writes the majority of her rhymes. Knowing this, Banks detailed, “When you’re talking about this female rap thing, there are b*tches that really push their pen and [black] girls that live, sweat and breath this art thing, I just feel like this is unfair to the real institution of female rap!”
She closed up by revealing how the media responds differently to Cardi B than they do to her, detailing, “Cardi B and I are very similar, and we’ve made a lot of the same vulgar jokes and a lot of the same ignorant political comments. However, what I’ve noticed has happened is if I misspeak, then my rap [career] is invalid, but if she misspeaks, it’s just chalked up to her being a dumb b*tch….. it’s just more so how threatened these music industry folk are by actual people with actual talent.”
When music and race intersect, it is always tricky. It is always hard to deal with, but Banks is not the only person to highlight some sort of issue. Singer Amara La Negra hinted at the fact that it is strange how Cardi B has so easily been able to explode in Latin America and the US, while she can’t break the US as a dark-skinned Afro-Latin woman.
Lots of people have issues with Cardi B, and it’s going to continue. For now, Cardi will maybe have to accept that perhaps certain immutable characteristics have worked to her advantage and even recognise it.