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Azealia Banks Bum

Azealia Banks has something she’d like to tell us

Rap’s most divisive voice on why she will come for your head if she has a problem with you

For an album that was three years, $2 million and one widely publicised label wrangle in the making, Broke With Expensive Taste’s arrival out of the blue last week was exquisitely timed.

Somewhere along the line from the release of “212”, excitement for Harlem rapper Azealia Banks ’ debut got buried under a landslide of false starts, bad blood with her former label, Interscope/Polydor, and a seemingly endless parade of Twitter ‘beefs’, many of which Banks insists weren’t really beefs at all.

But recently, we’ve seen the stirrings of a backlash against the backlash. Ariel Pink called her “hands down one of the most insane and talented individuals I have ever known” on Twitter, and Kele Okereke, himself no stranger to being used for a punchline by the press, was even more pointed in his praise: “It seems like nobody is rooting for her,” he wrote for Noisey back in April. “But I am.”

Most importantly, Broke With Expensive Taste is a blast from start to finish, going some or even all of the way towards reacquainting people with the Azealia Banks they fell in love with (Vulture saw fit to spin their review with the clickbait-tastic “Azealia Banks’s record is good enough to make you care about her again”). Fun, filthy and stuffed full of great productions from the likes of Lone, MJ Cole and Machinedrum, the record finds Banks in full, luxuriant flow, even busting out a superlative verse in Spanish (on “Gimme a Chance”), which she claims to have learned as a kid from her Dominican babysitters.

But what of Azealia herself? Has the whole messy saga surrounding her record’s release left her feeling less combative than before? Chastened, even? Not a bit of it: Banks is unbowed, unbroken and unpossessed to the tune of two fucks to give about what anyone thinks of her. Here’s her take on the record, her career to date, and a few of the bumps along the way: 

On Broke With Expensive Taste: 

“I feel like if my album had been released a year earlier people wouldn’t have been ready for it. I’ve made myself this really polarising figure, in my opinions and in doing all this stuff. I had this huge hype and then people started to hate me, so people started to expect my album to be bad, you know? And I kind of feel like that helped, because it was actually the exact opposite… I worked real fucking hard to get this album out, and it’s so fucking amazing! It’s like, anything I’ve ever said or done is like explained by the record. People are like, ‘We get it. She’s crazy! This album is crazy.’ When I read the reviews it’s always like ‘Azealia Banks must have ADHD or something! Like, what the fuck is going on with this thing?!’” 

“I didn’t want to be Kanye West’s artist because I plan to be better than Kanye West” – Azealia Banks

On career regrets: 

“If I could do things differently I would have signed with Jay Z, probably. A lot of meetings I wouldn’t take (before signing) ’cos I was just like, ‘I don’t want to be with a male rapper.’ But (looking back) I think it would have been nice to have that male support and cosign in the rap world. Kanye wanted to sign me, but I just felt like, ‘I don’t want to be Kanye West’s artist because I plan to be better than Kanye West. So I can’t possibly be his artist. It’s not going to work out that way.’” 

On Eminem’s lyric about Lana Del Rey: 

“It made me angry! Don’t you tell Lana Del Rey that you’re going to fucking punch in her face! What the fuck is wrong with you, you fucking idiot! What about Lana Del Rey would evoke anger? Like, do you get angry when you listen to Lana Del Rey? Does she make you angry? It’s like, you’re fortysomething now and you have a daughter whose like a teenager now (Eminem's daughter is 18). You know, come on! It’s not fair! 

On her favourite Twitter feud: 

“Probably TI. He’s just dumb. TI’s dumb. He jumped into the middle of a girl fight a couple of years ago (with Iggy Azalea) and said some stupid shit, and then I said something back and he said, ‘She actually has no right to talk to me. She needs to go and get her man to talk to me.’ And I was just like, ‘You’re such a fucking dumbass. He is sooo dumb. So. Dumb. And since you came at me out of the blue I will always have a problem with you and I will always fucking come at your head. And that’s it.” 

On what her career would be like without social media: 

“It wouldn’t exist! My music existed in a very small corner of Alphabet City. But (through the internet) I became like a personality. Even when people say they don’t care (about what I say) they’ll still fucking write about it. People care what I’m saying. They care what I think.” 

On her Pharrell collab ‘ATM Jam’ (instigated by her then-label Interscope/Polydor): 

“The whole time I was working on the song Pharrell was acting ‘mad brand new’. You know what it means to act ‘mad brand new’? It’s when someone’s acting like they’re too good for you. You know, he was acting brand new. This was before ‘Happy’. And I was like, ‘Why the fuck is he acting like this?’ Listen. I don’t want to rap on this track. They’re making me rap on this track. And it really pissed me off, because this was exactly what I didn’t come here to do. It was like, ‘I don’t do this!’ I have too much pride. I have way too much pride.” 

“Pharrell was acting ‘mad brand new’. You know what it means to act ‘mad brand new’? It’s when someone’s acting like they’re too good for you”

On “JFK”, a song on the record which it’s been alleged takes pot shots at Lady Gaga: 

“It’s not about Lady Gaga! ‘JFK’ is about what it feels like to be a new artist and have a bigger artist steal something from you. It’s like, ‘Bitch! You have everything at your fucking disposal. Why do you want to steal my little thing? You’re getting all your ideas from me.’ But it’s not talking about anyone specific. It could be taken anyway, you know... Actually, it is talking about someone specific. But it’s not Lady Gaga, I promise you. Her little fanbase, they’re crazy. They want everything to be about Lady Gaga. But it’s not about fucking Lady Gaga. I’m sorry, honey. And to be honest it’s like… trust me, I don’t even know what she be up to. You only hear about her when she’s dressing up or she’s doing some crazy shit or whatever. I exist in like cool, artful, hipster world; I’m in this hipster snob world where people don’t listen to Lady Gaga.” 

On Ariel Pink, whose “Nude Beach A-Go-Go” she samples on a track of the same name on her record: 

“Stink Pink? I love Stink Pink! He’s like my little like (makes high pitched squeak). He’s like my little hairy old friend.” 

On the fashion industry: 

“The fashion community has been really, really supportive of me. There was one interview I did where I was saying I spent a lot of time pleasing the fashion world and I didn’t get to finish my music and stuff like that… Because fashion is a very fickle industry, you know, it turns like this (clicks her fingers). One day you’re in, next day you’re out. It is what it is, but the media were like, ‘Azealia Banks disses the fashion industry!’ And I wasn’t fucking dissing it, I was saying something very matter of fact. But actually the fashion industry has been great. It’s been great.” 

On her favourite new artists: 

“I really like FKA twigs right now. I really like her vibe and I really like her face, too. She looks like a little baby’s doll. I also like SZA. She’s prett-ayyy! She’s kind of in the same vein as twigs, you know: sexy, dark, weird, industrial-sounding stuff. But SZA has this hair which is just fucking amazing.” 

On London: 

“White boys do eat pussy better than everyone else, though, I will say that”

“I’d like to move to London, but I’d have to find a British man first. Stiff upper lip? Yeah, and you know what that’s good for, right? White boys do eat pussy better than everyone else, though, I will say that. Maybe it’s those thin white-boy lips!”

Broke With Expensive Taste is out now.