Azealia Banks dropped her long awaited debut LP “Broke With Expensive Taste” as a surprise for fans last Thursday. Pitchfork’s Jeremy Gordon was there the next day to talk with the rapper/singer about the tortured road she’s taken since 2011, when she seemed primed for mainstream success only to flounder under Interscope for the next three years and get into a series of high profile Twitter fights.
Banks always has a lot to say about being a black woman in the industry. In June, shortly before she was dropped from Interscope, she begged to be let go, writing on Twitter, “I’m tired of having to consult a group of old white guys about my black girl craft.” She was no less forthcoming with Pitchfork noting that even though some of her mess was of her own making, she got very little help cleaning it up.
Pitchfork: Two years ago, you told Spin that signing to a major label would be your one chance.
Azealia Banks: At that point, I was really young and surrounded by a lot of older men who were working with me, that I was dating–a lot of older people I had to deal with. And having the male co-sign is something that people talk about a lot, especially with female rappers. Having been rejected by so many different people, I was just like, “Oh my God, I’m back in with these guys, this is my last chance.” But now I know how much it costs to go in the studio–I could make a thousand dollars and record for 12 hours and do whatever I need to fucking do. I don’t need these major label guys. These people are not my last shot. I know how to do this. I can do this. And thanks to Twitter, I can do it my own way, too.
She then goes in on the mainstream industry at large saying that having to deal with the career pressures and living in the digital public eye is “making me insane.”
Or it’ll be like, “We’re gonna pop off the white-girl rapper,” so we’ll have Gwen Stefani and Fergie, and then it’ll get worse and worse and worse. And you’re just like, “What the fuck is this?” The whole trend of white girls appropriating black culture was so corny–it was more corny than it was offensive. Trust me, I’m not offended: All the things I’m trying to run away from in my black American experience are all the things that they’re celebrating. So if they fuckin’ want them, have them; if they want to be considered oversexualized and ignorant every time they open their fucking mouth, then fucking take it. But more than that, the art is not good. These songs are not good. It’s like, “Oh my God, you’re doing this black woman impression, is that what the fuck you think of me, bitch? I need to meet the black woman that you’re imitating because I’ve never met any black woman who acts that bizarre.” It’s crazy that this becomes mainstream culture. All of America is celebrating shit like that. It’s so weird.