I have a confession to make. Until recently, I’d only heard one Azealia Banks song.
Her upbeat, dance groove, “212,” was all I had to go on musically, but I still loved her. The grainy video had her looking all schoolgirl fresh in pigtails and glistening black skin and Micky Mouse shirt innocently hugging her curves. But her lyrics were unmistakably raw. She was a paradox in action, playing with the images of innocence while talking so dirty. It was fun to watch.
But my love for Azealia didn’t spring out of her music. It came from her take-no-shorts attitude. Banks is a female rapper on an island. Unlike other women who are shepherded into the game under the protective wing of an established male rapper, Azealia burst on the scene on her own terms, often taking shots at her peers—both male and female alike.
Earlier this year she got into a kerfuffle with T.I. after criticizing his artist Iggy Azalea’s inclusion on XXL’s Freshman Class cover, she’s beefed with both Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim, and she’s called Jim Jones out for being too much of a Harlem dude. Seemingly overnight, Azealia has had ish to say about everybody in the game, and as much as the gatekeepers try to minimize her shine, she just continues to rise.
Based on her mixtape, the sheer will of her arrogance, and IDGAF attitude Azelia Banks has become the industry’s it girl.
Just in the past few months Banks has scored magazine covers from Dazed and Confused and Spin, to Paper and Vibe, signaling that she’s the next big thing. The fashion world has also taken notice of the brown-skinned beauty and she’s popped up front and center at New York Fashion Week, and has been dressed by both establish and upstart fashion houses.
But will Banks be able to parlay her sassy attitude, undeniable talent, and signature style into a Kanye-esque career or will folks get tired of her in-your-face stance and cast her aside like all of the other women who don’t seem to seek their approval?