Female rap wars are no new concept to hip-hop, oddly enough, considering the art-form is mostly dominated by males. The latest feud between Australian-born Iggy Azalea and Harlemite Azealia Banks has been a brewing storm since Iggy’s gracing of 2012’s highly anticipated XXL Magazine Freshman cover. While both women show promise, it seems as though the beef has become more significant than the music and stardom they’re trying to attain.
The controversy first came to a head when Iggy Azalea, along with a gang of upcoming emcees, posed for 2012’s XXL coveted Freshmen 10 cover. The most vocal on the subject of Iggy’s appearance was Azealia Banks, whose single “212” has almost reached 12 million views on Youtube. She was very honest about her disdain for XXL’s cover tweeting, “Iggy Azalea on the XXL freshman list is all wrong…How can you endorse a white woman who called herself a ‘runaway slave master’?…Sorry guys. But I’m pro black girl. I’m not anti white girl, but I’m also not here for any1 outside of my culture trying to trivialize very serious aspects of it.” The song Banks is referring to is Iggy’s remake of Kendrick Lamar’s “Look Out For Detox” where she spits her verse on the song, but flips his verse saying, “ When the relay starts I’m a runaway slave…master.”
Rumors have surfaced that the catalyst behind this entire feud was through relationships that both women had with members of Harlem’s A$AP Crew. Since we’ve been hearing about Iggy Azalea, there’s always been a connection to A$AP Rocky, including the fact that she has a finger tattoo of their “Live Love A$AP” mantra, even though Rocky has been quiet as kept about their relationship. According to A$AP Rocky, Azealia Banks was in a relationship with A$AP AV, a lesser known member of the clique, and that’s the reason behind the tiff. In an interview with Punchbowl TV, A$AP Rocky said,
“Shout out to Azealia, she’s probably mad at us, though. Her boyfriend was A$AP AV, we know her and we talk about that. In response to Banks’ comments he said, “ They gotta cut it out, that’s some bullshit. Iggy is not racist. Trust me, trust me. That’s some bullshit. I think that’s petty for Azealia because.. c’mon don’t pick on [Iggy] because she’s white. That’s a low blow.”
Though it seems like it could just be a cat fight about one women not liking another, Azealia Banks comments on twitter unveil the issue of white-rappers in hip-hop, which has also been a constant battle. Alongside the struggles for female representation in hip-hop.
The bulk of the criticism against Iggy Azalea references her questionable southern accent and overall authenticity as an artist. It’s an argument that T.I. has spoken about after signing Iggy to Grand Hustle in March. During an interview with DJ Drama during that same month, T.I. bashed Azealia Banks saying “ Strategically if she really cares about a freshmen cover maybe she could hope that she’ll suck enough to get shelved and then next year when the freshmen cover comes back around, maybe she’ll still be a freshman.”
There’s something unsettling about the current slew of white females in hip-hop including Kreashawn, V-nasty, and Iggy Azalea. The main problem is they speak the slang and act like African-Americans but they don’t all share the same story. And when they aren’t careful about what they represent to middle class white America, hip-hop culture becomes the butt of a joke. Hip-hop wouldn’t thrive as much as it has without participation from other races, but it’s another thing to use that tool in a way that degrades a culture and influences a stereotype of a black person. For an artist of Azealia Banks caliber to step up and speak her mind, it takes an immense amount of character and, don’t forget, balls. She hasn’t asked anyone to choose sides either.
Being from a place like the Trap in Atlanta, one would think that an artist credibility would be the first thing T.I. checked before signing them. If Iggy’s “Pussy” video, set in the hood territory of L.A. didn’t make him question Iggy’s street cred, what will? Is he in this situation purely because he sees monetary gain behind Iggy or does he see an actual talent? Iggy’s climb isn’t as much of an issue about race but rather an issue of authenticity. XXL cosigning Azalea forces one to second guess the intentions of certain other white artists who have earned their stripes in hip-hop. Lets be fair, she can rap. But in order to win over black folks as fans maybe you shouldn’t call yourself a slave master.
After the T.I went on DJ Drama’s show to defend Azalea, Banks fired back on twitter:
“Lol I NEVER needed the next nigga to sit up on a radio show with me and defend me,” tweeted Banks. “Furthermore, niggas r sitting up here trying to mask/defend what homegirl said. Fuck outta here…Come on T.I…. Niggas is not scared of u and whatever shit u got to say on some radio show. … LMFAOO how u a grown man commenting on what’s going on between two girls. Come on son. Stop it.”
Iggy Azalea responded via twitter but has opted to be less confrontational about the matter citing the fact that she was chosen by fans to be on the XXL Freshman cover. Monday, on a Chicago radio interview, the drama was re-visited when radio hosts brought up Azealia Banks snarky remarks towards T.I.’s twitter account. He responded, “That’s bitch shit. I’m a man… You get a man to address me and we’ll handle that.” T.I.’s response further shows hip-hops problem with equality between genders. Azealia Banks spoke to him but he won’t respond because she’s a woman. With spectacles like this it gets more difficult to focus on the music.
Just a couple hours after T.I.’s interview, Banks fired back at TIP’s twitter account tweeting, “@tip funny how you have plenty of time to address me but have nothing to say to the dudes who been calling u at as a snitch forever.”
Both Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks have experienced similar success in their young careers. Banks recently performed at this year’s Coachella Music Festival. She reportedly signed a deal with Lady Gaga’s manager and is still preparing for her debut project, 1991. Iggy Azalea is working on a new EP entitled Glory before her debut album, The New Classic drops on Interscope. With both artist dropping projects soon, it’s unclear whether this situation will overshadow their careers or if their work will speak for itself.