You ask why Hip hop needs Azealia Banks. The question might be better put to say, why would a genre of music which at its core is based on bravado and boasting to a beat need someone who doesn’t follow the “rules” and moves to her own rhythms and thoughts.
Hip Hop needs Azealia because Azealia needs Hip Hop. Azealia uses Hip Hop to express her thoughts, origins and where she dreams of going. In much the way Rock needed people like Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, Axel Rose and Kurt Corbain. They said what they said what they needed to say and sometimes what we didn’t want to hear. In music beef/battles are common and sometimes expected and even orchestrated event. When Kendrick Lamar was asked to join Big Sean and Jay Electronica on the Control track http://rapgenius.com/Big-sean-control-lyrics he took it upon himself not only to diss the guys who were on the record with him but everybody else in the industry. (Notably he didn’t call out Nas, Kanye, TI or Jay Z.) He got unanimous praise it from the insiders and opinion makers who said it was a great ‘career’ move and great for Hip Hop. One pundit went so far as to say that the Kendrick verse was “proof” that Hip Hop wasn’t dead.
Jay Z made a huge name for himself by lyrically bragging about sleeping with the mother of Nas’ baby and “throwing the used condom into the baby’s car seat afterward.” http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/jayz/superugly.html of course Nas’ response is legendary in the rap game and their rivalry is literally Hip Hop mythology. Even usually mild mannered Drizzy Drake went on twitter to call out the Grammy winner Macklemore. He expressed the sentiments of many and has yet to get threatened with a trip down a flight of stairs for it. If you notice in rap battles/beefs there are outright insults, personal attacks and most importantly questions about how “real” the other artist is.
A couple of years ago Azealia Banks brought up legitimate concerns about racialized imagery in the work of some on who happens to be named Amethyst Amelia Kelly (aka Iggy Azeala). Instead of defending her words she sent her producer/promoter TI to speak for her and his basic defense against this charge was to tell Azealia that since she’s a “female” she has no right to speak to him and until she has a man to speak for her she should be quiet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WluS8FuqvM So maybe when AB looks up one day and sees that same person rapping about how he doesn’t accept mediocre women http://rapgenius.com/Ti-no-mediocre-lyrics she tweeted what a LOT of people thought …”Tiny ain’t no ten” in the words of my cousin. LLCoolJ famously touted the benefits and homegrown beauty of an ‘around the way girl’ because he’s married to one. He wasn’t out here saying that he only likes super models and strippers. He was keeping it real, which is (or used to be) a key ingredient in the culture that is being increasingly watered down by carnival acts and snake oil salesmen. As a lifelong fan Hip Hop used to be a place I could find myself, my neighborhood and the experiences of friends and family. Now there are more people pretending to be Hip Hop than living it.
Azealia may not be your first choice when it comes to music but there’s no denying that she is Hip Hop. The violence of TI’s response and the assertion that Azealia Banks “has no right” to talk about/to him is not Hip Hop that’s just entitlement and the mistaken belief that success means your above reproach and more importantly it wasn’t even clever or lyrical.
A Hip Hop Fan
On a personal and completely subjective note as a girl, woman and “female” who likes Hip Hop I love the fact that instead of bending over and selling it and/or defending it AB is just comfortable talkin’ shit, and I like it!
photo credit: www.thedailybeast.com