The perceived complexities of Azealia Banks do one of two things: draw people in or push them away. That's the common diagnosis for being unapologetically expressive.
In the years after her brilliant debut, 2012's Fantasea, the Harlem-bred rapper has seen her career derail into a hodgepodge of issues, whether they be label drama, music delays or well-documented feuds on social media. The spotlight has sure shifted since the days of entering the music scene. Still, despite all the drama that surrounds her name, Banks continues to lead on the trail uncharted. These days, she is whisking away those dark clouds for a little sunshine, which will soon arrive on her upcoming album Fantasea II: The Second Wave. Due out in July, the album is preceded by the single "Anna Wintour," a bubbly vogue track (get it?) that gives off the seapunk vibes that fans have been impatiently awaiting.
With new music on the way, Banks ushered in this new era on The Breakfast Club this morning (May 11), making her long-awaited debut. As you can imagine, no stone went unturned. Weighing in on everything from her perception by the media to her infamous Twitter comments, Banks, as she only can, sharpened her unapologetic voicebox to share a clearer look at the miseducation of Azealia Banks.
On being perceived as the "hip-hop industry bad girl": No, I don't [feel like that]. I feel like the art school...I don't know, I just feel like that dorky black girl who everyone thinks is kind of weird. Like sometimes when I show up to the urban club, they're just like, who's this girl?
On her Cardi B remarks: I feel like maybe two years ago, the conversation surrounding black women culture was at an all-time high and really discussing our power amongst ourselves. Beyoncé came out with Lemonade and there was just this really, really, really intelligent conversation going on nationally. Then everything just kind of changed, and then it was, like, Cardi B. I'm just talking about this caricature of a black woman that black women themselves would never be able to get away with. Like if my spelling and grammar was that bad, I'd be cancelled. If Nicki Minaj spelled like that, we'd be ragging on her all day. I think that when it comes to this black women culture thing, I don't understand how we go from Beyoncé and Lemonade, Solange, Black Lives Matter, and then this. I just don't understand the extreme lack of couth.
On her early support of Donald Trump before the 2016 election: It was more so about the tax break. The system's the same on both sides, no matter who you're voting for. "The American Dream," it rests on a systemically oppressed underclass, be it black people, Latino people, people in jail, Chinese, either way you go, somebody is getting f—ked.
On her opinions of Trump now: You're just cheapening the presidency. You're being sloppy. He reminds me so much of Eric Cartman. And just as an American who loves to fucking eat McDonald's and watch reality TV and dumb bullshit. I will admit that I enjoy watching the bullshit.
On not wanting to vote for Hillary Clinton: A big part of the reason why I didn't want to vote for Hillary Clinton is because I felt like her movement was shrouded in so much, like, white feminism. It just seemed like [people were like], 'We're just gonna get this woman to the presidency and completely ignore the fact that her and her husband [Bill Clinton] are the reason so many black families are divided now — the 1994 Crime Bill. People going to jail for a bag of weed and dumb shit like that. We're forgetting that this woman called us super-predators. She's blatantly tried to compel to us and talk about she got hot sauce in her bag and all type of shit — like, literally talking to us like we're idiots. I always say that I like my racists racist, I don't like any of that covert shit. I don't like any of that politically-correct bullshit. And yeah, I feel this way about feminism, too. I feel like the feminist conversation is always very white female-centric. I just felt like if Hillary Clinton won, that was just going to be a win for white women and more losses for black women. That was just going to give them more of an excuse not to deal with any intersectionality and all of the different—all of the other women that fall under that feminist banner. We seen it with the Suffrage Movement, you know. Black women helped white women get the right to vote and they just kind of left us to fend for ourselves. We were the last American citizens to get the right to vote. I guess it's a bit about realizing that history can and will repeat itself.
On experiencing racism outside of the country: I can't go back to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv was just a bit intense. It was really intense. At the same time, I'm an American, I've experienced racism going to K-Mart. It's nothing new, but I guess it's just like, shit, this is a new kind of racism. Everywhere I went, there were looks. We only ate in one restaurant. The other restaurants we went to, I had to suck it up because I was hungry, but every other restaurant the people were just like, 'ugh.' The people working for the airline was just clearly giving me and my security a hard time. Just the vibe I got was very unwelcoming. It kind of just gets to a point where you're just like, 'Fuck, shit, I'm a nigger here too?'
On being misunderstood as an artist: A lot of hip-hop heads will be like, 'Oh, she makes music for white, gay people.' Not knowing that house music was invented by black and Latino kids. So I get offended whenever I'm kind of accused of not being black enough for that reason. I'm offended by the ignorance and just kind of offended by the fact that another black person thinks they have control or authority over my blackness. That annoys me but hopefully as time goes on, and people have access to the internet and start doing research, maybe they'll understand.
On upcoming album, Fantasea II: I'm dropping an album in July. It is the second installment of the first Fantasea project. It's called Fantasea II: The Second Wave. So I'm going back in my whole Mermaid vibes and doing the seapunk thing.