When It Comes To Cardi B, Azealia Banks Couldn’t Have Said It Better
Why is the bar so low?
When you hear the name Azealia Banks — you might instinctively let out a sigh or even cringe at the reminder of her existence. She’s the young Black woman who fits the mold of the “angry” type who is so bitter about her “stalled career” — that she randomly lashes out with razor sharp vengeance.
There’s no doubt that one of the most talented rappers of her generation is also a complex and often times restless soul — who is comfortable with being mislabeled and even attacked for her outspokenness — which would be an enviable stance if she didn’t regrettably end up in muddy territory.
Her tirade against the LGBTQ community wasn’t received well and with good reason — and despite the swift apology — the damage was done as she succeeded in digging a deeper hole for herself after convincing a new crowd of haters that she deserves to retain her title as “the most hated Black woman rapper.”
There have been incidents of downright weirdness that have enveloped Banks even when she’s not looking for shit. Like that one time when she accused actor Russell Crowe of spitting in her face — among other things — during a reception that also included Wu Tang Clan member — RZA — who initially downplayed what happened to Banks — before finally co-signing her testimony.
The disturbing part of that debacle that turned into a spectacle — was the reaction from across the board — that was expectedly swayed against believing Banks was indeed attacked by a privileged White man who had no business being physically abusive to a guest at his own soiree.
The other aspect of it is how people were readily willing to bet that Azealia Banks absolutely must’ve done something to provoke Crowe — therefore arming him with permission to call her a “nigger” out loud before proceeding to choke her in full view of his guests.
It was shocking to witness the festival of memes and jokes that were meant to mock Banks and furthermore — celebrate her misfortune as if she had earned the displeasure of being unfairly treated as the punishment for her sins that will never be blotted from memory.
It’s somewhat miraculous that she was able to breakthrough the misogynistic world of rap — that is enraptured with the climate of colorism — that unfolds to reveal the preferences that still remain direly active.
Banks is whimsically artistic with imaginative tentacles — and the will to survive an industry that never deserved her. Like most creatives who actually create — thanks to the limitless catalog of gems that are stored in their web of genius — the Harlem-born songwriter hustled her way to recognition — and became the recording artist of her dreams.
But — dreams sometimes become nightmares — especially when the detour into oblivion showcases the virus of disdain that is directed towards Black women who are “too Black” — and boringly “regular.”
Lil’ Kim tried it and failed. As a Black woman trying to hold on to her crown that endorsed her prowess as a seasoned and respected rapper — there was more required of her that her male counterparts didn’t have to contend with — and it had everything to do with her physicality and how it measure up to the ideal.
After suffering from the humiliation of being discarded by the men in her life for the type of women that can’t ever be categorized as “regular” — Biggie’s long time love decided to amplify her assets by erasing the hue of her discontent and adopting the more acceptable replacement.
We see it everywhere in our culture. White women becoming the version of “Black” that notable Black men crave and yield to — while openly demonizing the women they were born to love and respect.
The Kardashian women have perfected the art of conturing their templates and maintaining a permanent tan that evokes the notion that we can validate their status as superstars who have the wealth and privilege to copy Rachel Dolezal’s sentiment without the nagging controversy of what that means — infringing on their freedom.
They’ve seamlessly extended the “Black treatment” to their biracial offspring with hiked up filters to ensure that the babies look darker than they really are.
Then you have Iggy Azalea — the Australian-born rapper who came to America to seek fame and fortune and since she’s White — she’s able to do exactly that with the help of Black male producers who can’t wait to help transform her into a real life Black Barbie Doll — who doesn’t have to be that dope at spewing out verses because her newly inflated lips and ass need room to thrash about.
Azealia Banks is a dark-skinned Black woman who is gorgeous enough to not give a fuck — but she has to be demonized and vilified because she’s pissed enough to know that no matter how flawless she is in front of the mic and beyond — she will be shunned for someone lighter and brighter who can barely construct a sentence and definitely can’t offer competitiveness on any level.
Enter Cardi B — the Bronx-born former stripper who found fame on VH1’s super hit — Love & Hip Hop: New York before charming the world-at-large with her “authenticity” and lyrical coverage.
The fairy-tale that is still ongoing has become divisive as the fans who think she’s the real deal and applaud her ability to proudly state her imperfections clash with gawkers like me — who can’t figure out how or why she exists in the realm of celebrity.
She’s everywhere — from the plush sofas of Ellen DeGeneres —to the glitzy nightly shows — and the idolization has garnered two thumbs up from an impressive stash of celebrities — including Denzel Washington and — punk band — Green Day.
You have to conclude that there is something up when everybody and their mama can’t get enough of something or someone that really isn’t all that special. No offense — but I can barely get through her shit because when I try (and believe me I have!) to submit to her track list — I end up with a banging headache.
My views on Cardi B line up with her newly-minted nemesis — as Azealia Banks who recently stopped by The Breakfast Club — didn’t hold back when asked about her summation of things:
“I’m just talking about this caricature of a black woman that black women themselves would never be able to get away with. Like if my spelling and grammar was that bad, I’d be canceled. If Nicki Minaj spelled like that, they’d just be ragging on her all day.”
This is so true. The mob mentality has taken hold and the grip is so tight that there’s no room for individualism — and this results in the unfortunate rise of mediocrity that is vigorously embraced as the religion of choice by those who know better.
Cardi B is the success story everyone wants a part of even though she represents the lowest bar possible.
If she were a dark-skinned Black woman — who spoke and acted like that — she would be ridiculed and cursed out by Black women — especially — who would view her as an utter embarrassment — while Black men would create demeaning memes to satisfy their constant cravings when it comes to publicly shitting on women who don’t fit the global requirement.
“I just don’t understand like the extreme lack of couth. I’ve never seen that at the forefront of female rap. I didn’t know that the bar would be lowered so much. It’s kind of like a culture shock. The bar went from Beyonce, Lemonade, this very extremely intelligent conversation…”
“When you’re talking about this female rap thing. B*tches that really push their pen. Girls that live, sweat, breathe this art thing. I just feel like it’s unfair to the real institution of female rap.”
Another truth. We’re currently inhabiting a system that accepts anything that trends as branded confetti — even if the delivery isn’t up to par. There’s no adherence to the hustle of yesteryears when artistry was birthed from vibrant dungeons of self-realization — and the freedom that comes when you release diamonds that are polished for the joy of actualization — that has nothing to do with the sickening adulation that trumpets minimal effort.
“I think that when it comes to this female rap thing that we have, I just don’t understand how we go from like…or just, not female rap thing, this black women’s culture thing, I just don’t understand how we go from Beyonce, Lemonade, Solange, Black Lives Matter, all these great conversations to….this.”
I actually do know how we got here and I’m sure Banks does too — she just won’t “go there.” It’s simple. Human nature is wrapped up in the need to belong and to be validated for the choices we make — and this translates into the intense desire to never abandon our membership to the circus of bullshit.
If Kanye releases his greatest hits about a topic that’s off limits if you say the wrong thing — then we must all slather ourselves at once — with the dishwashing liquid of responses that lather up to produce a slippery mess — that drowns us all and leaves the wrongdoer clean as a whistle.
It’s a movement that hasn’t been identified — despite the grandness of its mobility and how it drowns out the naysayers who refuse to be infected.
That’s why when it comes to Cardi B — Azealia Banks couldn’t have said it better.
Her manner of speaking may be harsher than most and downright offensive — but that doesn’t cancel out the fact that she not only looks good — but she sounds even better.
Her intelligence is not her undoing — it’s her weapon and she brandishes it with convenience and the peppering of bitterness that she’s earned the right to harbor — when you contemplate the scenes of her life and career and how it breeds foulness with unapologetic authority.
Perhaps — she knows that even if she were as sweet as pie with the temperament that’s reserved for women who aren’t dark and feisty — she would still be fucked over — so why not play into the narrative that is ceremoniously applied to her kind?
Is it fair to shame a fellow rapper for her illiteracy and “uncouthness” instead of congratulating her for rising above and “killing the game” — despite her glaring inefficiencies?
From my standpoint— I relish the refreshing talk from a young woman who still has a lot to learn but regardless of her shortcomings — she’s a fighter with a soft heart — who never considers diluting her messaging in order to pamper the lazy crowd that can’t wait to stone her for being the bitch they love to bitch about.
I don’t hate Cardi B — in fact I’m fascinated by her golden trajectory and where that will leave her in a year or two. I don’t think her good fortune could’ve happened two decades ago because she’s a product and not an artist.
I will never “cancel” Azealia Banks — even when she steps so far out out of the line of reason and deposits the zingers that even make me blush. As a Black woman who looks Black and comprehends how that’s assessed to our disadvantage — I have empathy for a young and thriving superwoman who will never substitute her powers for the thrill of being the valueless shiny mascot of the year.
We need the bar to be high again — and I’m betting on the one that nobody wants. I tend to vote that way.
Update: Response from Azealia Banks — which she later deleted — and I suspect it had to do with all the hate flowing on her Instagram page — but I could be wrong.