Why Azealia Banks Was Right In Her Critique of Lana Del Rey

I feel like having a little fun at the expense of two very talented young women, who recently provided much-appreciated distraction as they battled it out in full view of engrossed gawkers, who were paying close attention and diligently keeping score.

I’m not going to bore you with analytics because when it comes to who garnered the winning scores, you would have to base it on the results of the never-ending popularity contest, and as we all know, Lana Del Rey easily outranks Azealia Banks in the likability category, so that pretty much gives the “Summertime Sadness” singer a huge advantage.

But, as much of a fan as I am of Del Rey, my loyalty belongs to Banks, and it pretty much stays that way, even when I’m alone in my refusal to jump ship when the tide gets high, due to that tendency towards potent foulness.

There’s documentation to prove my unrelenting support for a woefully misunderstood artist, who is too damn brilliant for this shit, and who definitely harbors a lot of pain that manifests in ways that never allows for the flow of empathy that she rightly deserves.

As a young Black woman in her late twenties, who is kind of seasoned at this point, it’s outrageously criminal that Azealia Banks is still fighting to be acknowledged for her endless creativity, when you have knock offs like Iggy Azalea, getting “Fancy” with the fame that they bought with enhanced body parts and barely-there talent.

It’s no secret how the music industry, particularly the genre of hip-hop, treats female artists like props, with sky high expectations that encourage the urgency to distort features in an effort to produce a glisteningly bloated aesthetic — that’s supposed to give male producers the incentive to make ample investments.

This brings me to the crux of the disagreement between two women in the same business, who have experienced vastly different trajectories for reasons that don’t necessarily match the darker one’s individual pursuits.

Banks is feisty and abundantly creative, and like most who share her natural capabilities, there is a level of defiance and pride, that inflames the sensors whenever the signal for self-defense mechanisms are activated.

It’s brutal treatment when you’re shunned for more viable artists who happen to possess the desired measurements for the music videos that they frolic in to showcase the newly improved assets that have nothing to do with artistic prowess.

And when you happen to be a Black woman who actually looks Black, the odds are against you, and the landscape to navigate becomes treacherous as you fight like hell to claim a spot — that won’t leave you vulnerable to the elements — that include the lackluster reception that annoyingly stems from your inability to flawlessly prove how fuckable you are — across the board.

The media’s classic interpretation of Black woman rage vs. White woman victimhood

Lana Del Rey is a young White woman with an appealing self-chosen name, and a musical catalog that evokes a collection of influences that gives her the edginess of fluidity. Her privilege makes her entry and residency a seamless process that undoubtedly demands consistent hard work and dedication. And if she’s able to dutifully re-invent herself with the eager assistance of the best in the business — she can definitely enjoy the fruits of her labor without issue.

Azealia Banks possesses all the attributes that could elevate and be sustained under the tutelage of her beautiful mind and the mentorship from ready and willing veterans, who are driven by the gems she plants — and desperately want that part of her to flourish over the habitual combativeness that threatens to overrun her value.

Perhaps, as a Black woman who also looks Black — for better or worse — there’s an instinctual need to be protective of Banks, especially when she’s on the battlefield without any allies, and is forced to defend herself against the poisoned arrows of insults — that callously hit below the belt with vile references to her physicality — which is the standard default when it comes to Black women.

When French Montana was brilliantly shamed on Twitter by a Black girl who hilariously questioned his worth without using his handle — the rapper discovered the diss after searching himself on the platform, and proceeded to attack the user’s looks — by addressing her “nappiness.”

As disgusting as that tweet was, Banks has endured much worse with disturbing frequency, and, again, this isn’t an attempt to glaze over the active role she plays when it comes to being aggressively inappropriate — but we can’t pretend her targeted status isn’t soaked in the fun-loving tradition of demeaning Black woman — who rarely deserve the ceremonious verbal stoning.

It’s tough witnessing the hateful language from Black men, who can’t ever pass up the chance to let loose whenever Banks is on display. And the insults always hit too close to home, as I automatically internalize the rabid pummeling with familiarity and sorrowfulness.

I absolutely don’t cosign any of her deplorable antics, but I choose to look beyond them to unearth the sensibilities that are hidden in that layered rage, and that propels me to see her through the lens of humanness, as a Black woman who won’t allow her battered ally to simply sink to the bottom.

When she went head to head with longtime nemesis, Iggy Azalea, shit got so intense that Twitter decided to briefly silence Banks, as punishment for being unable to control her celebrated foulness.

That temporary ban is beyond ironic when you consider how CEO Jack Dorsey was vehemently against exacting swift disciplinary action against conspiracy theorist and America’s favorite bigot, Alex Jones — despite glaring evidence that highlighted the obvious.

And then there was the backlash she received for her eloquent summation of a genre that she demonstratively loves to the point of rightfully questioning how and why Cardi B is able to receive the kind of adulation, that should be reserved for artists that represent what we’re tragically losing at rapid speed.

The worst has to be the disaster that erupted during the press tour for the movie that Banks starred in alongside Wu-Tang’s RZA and actor Russell Crowe — who hosted a private party that ended badly after he allegedly assaulted Banks and even spat in her face.

As the harrowing details emerged, both men relied on the narrative of the “angry Black woman,” who has a history of trifling behavior, and therefore doesn’t warrant any amount of empathy since she’s perfected the ability to coerce the truth to fit her outlandish tales of woe.

But it turned out that Crowe also has a rap sheet that paints him in the same light as the likes of fellow Aussie, Mel Gibson, and this revelation made Banks a credible witness and victim — especially when her side of the story was eventually confirmed by none other than RZA, who initially abandoned her with a public crucifixion.

And now that Kanye West is the cultural icon on everybody’s shit list, the tension has reached the expected tempo, as opinions intermingle to create the tapestry of competitive fury.

Lana Del Rey joined the party via an Instagram post, where she blasted “Ye” for rejecting his Black side in favor of a murkier hue.

“Trump becoming our president was a loss for the country but your support of him is a loss for the culture,” she wrote. “I can only assume you relate to his personality on some level. Delusions of Grandeur, extreme issues of narcissism — none of which would be a talking point if we weren’t speaking about the man leading our country.

“If you think it’s alright to support someone who believes it’s OK to grab a woman by the p**** just because he’s famous-then you need an intervention as much as he does — something so many narcissists will never get because there just isn’t enough help for the issue.”

Azealia Banks responded with:

Del Rey came back swinging, days later, and the back and forth commenced with the blatant ugliness that gives Twitter its designated reputation.

As a casual observer, I got more laughs from the vibrant arrangement of reactions to the epic girl fight of the year, than the main scuffle itself— but then the hilarity stopped when Del Rey unleashed this:

While it’s hard to not fault Banks for fucking up her grind by not having the discipline to stay out of her own way — it’s pretty unbearable to hear a privileged White woman publicly call out a Black woman in such a manner — particularly when the backstory isn’t so black and white (no pun intended).

First off, Banks’ initial critique of Del Rey was spot on because it effectively expressed the infuriating delusions and shortcomings of White feminism — that permits White women to insert themselves in the ongoing threads of activism — whenever they’re ready to awaken their inner “wokeness.”

Taylor Swift is the surprise heroine of the moment, thanks to her heartfelt Instagram post , that supposedly mobilized a ton of sleepyheads out of their slumber and into voting booths. And Del Rey, who hasn’t made much of a dent when it comes to vocalizing her disdain for police brutality against Black people, was somehow moved by Ye’s latest snafu — and felt the need to share her disappointment.

That kind of allyship is routine and suspect, and when I peeped it, I felt the exact same way Banks did.

Also, the part about her being “the greatest female rapper alive” is correct, but saying that Banks “blew it,” might’ve been a bit much when you take into account that the struggle for White women in the industry is minimal compared to their Black counterparts.

Azealia Banks is the prime example of an exceptional talent who can’t be celebrated for her “bad girl” behavior as well as her uncanny ability to unleash the level of dopeness that excuses her legendary temper tantrums.

Male artists are able to ride that wave with ease, but women aren’t permitted to indulge, and Black women are absolutely not gifted the same amount of flexibility when it comes to being haughtily hot — unless their templates are prototypes of Bey, RiRi and Nicki.

When Del Rey put all the blame on a Black woman who has been unfairly blacklisted, even though her ongoing predicament features a wide range of factors that are responsible for the toxic climate that threatens to suffocate those who refuse to play by the stringent rules — it felt like an attack from a White woman who feels privileged enough to venture in the unfamiliar territory that she’s too entitled to imagine.

Yes, the hatefest that surrounds Azealia Banks is the event that will never end, but for those of us who dare to care — it’s always necessary to sort out her wins in the midst of the frequent wars that try and fail to bury her.

This time, my track record of defending the guilty as charged subject remains consistently predictable — and luckily I have nothing to lose — so let the “dragging” begin!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store