Until recently I hadn’t paid much attention to Azealia Banks. I knew her better as the girl who was always beefing on Twitter than as an emcee.
But then, in December, the Harlem rapper did a completely politically incorrect interview with New York City radio station Hot 97, where she went off about race, racism and cultural appropriation. It was similar to Kanye West in his early years when his outbursts were more purposeful (like when he said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people" on live TV) than ridiculously childish (like any recent interview, particularly the post-Grammy rant on Beck).
That interview turned 23-year-old Banks into a media darling. And not just black media. Banks is on the cover of the latest issue of Playboy. I didn’t see that move coming, but apparently it was only a matter of time.
"I love getting naked,” Banks explained in the interview. "It’s so funny, every time my manager arranges a photo shoot, I’m like, ‘Let’s do a nude photo!’ And everyone’s like, ‘Oh, Azealia, you’re always trying to bring your butt out.’
“Posing for Playboy was a no-brainer,” she continued. “I was like, ‘Yes! They want to see me naked.’”
Anyway, Banks is all dressed up—or, rather, undressed—for Playboy, apparently channeling Eartha Kitt’s and Halle Berry’s versions of Catwoman, replete with balls of yarn, dominatrix masks and black cats. When she’s covered up, it’s Halloween-meets-haute. Given Banks’ tell-it-like-it-is history, her latest interview is as no-holds-barred as her bottom is bare. (If you’re more interested in what she shows than in what she says, the issue hits newsstands Friday.)
Some of the interview is politically incorrect genius, and other parts make you wonder, where is her publicist and what was she thinking? (The f-bombs? The rant on “fat, white Americans”?) Love her or hate her, that’s Banks in a nutshell. Here are the top five most profound (or outrageous) comments from her latest interview:
Banks on “misogynoir”:
It’s always about race. [Singer] Lorde can run her mouth and talk s—t … but y’all aren’t saying she’s angry. If I have something to say, I get pushed into the corner.
Banks on being unapologetically black:
I am black, and I am a pain in your ass. But I’m not really talking to [white people,] and that’s what makes those people mad. You’re not invited to this conversation. This is not about you.
Banks on American education:
The history textbooks in the U.S. are the worst if you’re not white. “The white man gave you the vote. He Christianized you and taught you how to speak English. If it weren’t for him, you’d still be living in a hut.” I could write a book about why black people shouldn’t be Christians. Young black kids should have their own special curriculum that doesn’t start from the boat ride over from Africa. All you know as a black kid is we came over here on a boat, we didn’t have anything and we still don’t have anything. But what was happening in Africa? What culture were we pulled away from? That information is vital to the survival of a young black soul.
Banks on reparations (one of her favorite topics):
Why do I have to explain this to y’all? My little white fans will be like, “Why do you want reparations for work you didn’t do?” Well, you got handed down your grandfather’s estate and you got to keep your grandmother’s diamonds and pearls and s—t.
Banks on being the next Jay Z:
In American society, the game is to be a nonthreatening black person. That’s why you have Pharrell [Williams] or Kendrick Lamar saying, “How can we expect people to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves?” He’s playing that nonthreatening black man s—t, and that gets all the white soccer moms going, “We love him.” Even Kanye West plays a little bit of that game: “Please accept me, white world.” Jay Z hasn’t played any of those games, and that’s what I like.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. Follow her on Twitter.