Azealia Banks. Iggy Azalea. Both well-known names in the music industry today. And both embroiled in a very public, very heated feud.
Because they’re both named after the same kind of flower, the idealist in me happily expected them to form some kind of BFF bond and maybe even do some sort of collaboration, although sadly, the situation has been quite the opposite, and has been this way for about two years now.
The feud first entered public light when Iggy was featured on the cover of XXL Freshman along with rappers like Danny Brown, French Montana, Macklemore, Machine Gun Kelly, Kid Ink, and Hopsin.
Azealia was very adamantly against this, tweeting about how XXL was endorsing Iggy, who had referred to herself in a track called D.R.U.G.S as a “runaway slave-master” (side note: Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino also covered the same beat, in the songs “Look Out for Detox” and “You Know Me”, respectively).
Rapper TI then became involved in the feud, defending Iggy and telling Azealia to mind her own business, This caused a sub-feud between TI and Azealia in late 2012.
This is not the only public feud Azealia has had. In fact, she is well known for speaking her mind about anyone or anything she has been insulted by, instigating various feuds between her and performers such as Kreayshawn, Lil Kim, Baaeur, Diplo, Rita Ora, Asap Rocky, and Pharell.
While Azaelia was busy having feuds with everyone else, things between her and Iggy cooled for a while, until early this month when Azealia, referencing many of the events surrounding police killings in Ferguson and New York, tweeted: "its funny to see people Like Igloo Australia silent when these things happen…Black Culture is cool, but black issues sure aren’t huh?“, and went on to make further jabs at Iggy and even one to T.I. Banks then went on to give an emotional interview with radio station Hot 97, in which she accused Iggy of "smudging black culture”, saying:
“That Macklemore album wasn’t better than the Drake record. That Iggy Azalea shit isn’t better than any fucking black girl that’s rapping today…The Grammys are supposed to be accolades of artistic excellence. Iggy Azalea is not excellent…When they give these Grammys out, all it says to white kids is: oh yeah you’re great, you’re amazing, you can do whatever you put your mind to. And it says to black kids: you don’t have shit. You don’t own shit, not even the shit you created for yourself, and it makes me upset”.
Iggy, usually unresponsive towards Azealia’s beef with her, apparently found this to be the last straw, as she then proceeded to blast Azealia over twitter, calling her “poisonous”, “miserable”, a “bigot” and a “bully” and finally saying: “There are many black artists succeeding in all genres. The reason you haven’t is because of your piss poor attitude”.
Other artists have gotten involved in this feud as well. Will.i.am defended Iggy, thanking her for “contributing and spreading our culture positively” and saying that it upset him that “people are making a big deal about race in hiphop and not ethics”, finally telling Iggy to “do what you love” and “stay #fancy”.
However, on the flip side, rapper Q-Tip seemed to take offence to one of Iggy’s tweets. In direct response to Azealia, Iggy said “Now! rant, Make it racial! make it political! Make it whatever but I guarantee it won’t make you likable & THATS why ur crying on the radio”. Q-Tip disagreed with Iggy, citing the fact that hip-hop/rap is what it is today due to racial and socio-political issues. (You can see all of Q-Tip’s tweetsherehttp://www.buzzfeed.com/claudiakoerner/q-tip-teaches-iggy-azalea-some-hip-hop-history#.khr2ZvlE9, as well as the entire chronology of the Azealia vs Azalea feud here:http://www.buzzfeed.com/tanyachen/azealia-azalea#.ytk0VZwA5)
In a feud that is as drawn-out as this one, there are no winners, losers, or right answers.
To Azealia Banks: You are right to be passionate about how you view your race and culture, but you need to change the way you express yourself. This past year has proven that you are no stranger to feuding with people and speaking your mind, and while you should be commended for your courage to stand up to others as well as your passion to keep integrity in the rap/hip-hop community, you should be doing so in a more positive light. For one thing, using the police killings in Ferguson and New York is, understandably, something you are passionate about, but if you really care about this issue, then you should not use it as leverage in a fight against another rapper. Instead, you should be honouring these men’s lives and respecting their memories as well as their families and what they are dealing with at this moment. Secondly, you are a talented artist and obviously have a lot to say, so why not use your music to advocate for your beliefs? This is surely a more positive way to go about it , and will also have a more effective impact on people who listen to your music, as well as how people perceive you on the whole.
To Iggy Azalea: Recognize that as a white female, you are a minority in the rap/hip-hop industry, and that your presence, along with others, has helped to ensure a more integrated community. However, rapping about how you’re a “runaway slave master” works in the exact opposite way, as it separates you from your community and those in it. And I think it goes without saying that ANY type of oppression should not be glorified (yes there are many other examples of glorified oppression in music but I will not be getting into those right now). Also, as I said before, your presence in the industry is indicative of progress, but progress cannot be achieved without first understanding where you have come from. Failing to recognize the social, political, and cultural roots of the community you have identified yourself with is not appropriate behaviour and merits not belonging to that community at all. You cannot pick and choose certain parts of a community as you see fit. You must better educate yourself in this situation.
To other artists getting involved in this feud: This is not your fight to fight, and should not be anyone’s fight at all. Picking and choosing sides further creates division in what is supposed to be a community, and it is your job as artists to try and uphold this community in a positive way.
With that said, here’s to hoping that these two artists are able to work out their differences.