The end of 2014 brought about some lovely surprises. D’Angelo dropped a soulful/message tinged album that gave us hope for r&b music, the Ferguson protestors defiantly declared “it won’t be business as usual” and continued their marches/die-ins throughout the holidays, and Azealia Banks called out the erasing of black women artists in a no-holds-barred interview.
I remember the buzz on Banks years ago. Now that I’m older, my ears can’t take too much rap music, but I did share about her upcoming music with my younger women of color friends. Then Banks disappeared from the scene. We would later learn she was having problems with her management/record label and wanted desperately to be an independent artist. She stated, “I’m tired of having to consult a group of old white guys about my black girl craft.”
In the controversial interview this past December, Banks continued her criticism of Australian rapper Iggy Azalea and the overall “smudging” of black creativity in the current music scene. Many folks dismissed Banks as being bitter and jealous of Iggy’s success. Banks (who is very astute and intelligent) articulated the fact that she knew people saw her as “an angry black woman.” One of the stereotypes that tends to be heaped on black women who don’t smile, shut up, and accept how they are being (mis)treated.
Also many (white folks) tried to claim that Banks/black folks who rejected Iggy were being “reverse racists.” Actually, the black community tends to be very welcoming of white artists. From George Michael, Michael McDonald, and of course the late “soul sista” Teena Marie.
A few years ago, I saw Marie in concert. President Obama had just been elected for his first stint in office. Marie gave him a shout out and started grooving to her song “Hit Me Where I Live” giving another shout out to “chocolate city.” She was off the hook. My favorite cut from Marie will always be “Square Biz.”
The reason why a white woman like Marie was embraced (or at the very least tolerated by black folks) was because she stayed in her damn lane. Marie (George Michael and the rest) never tried to put themselves above the black musicians in the r&b/soul music genre. They always gave props, honor, and respect to the black artists who came before them. Iggy doesn’t do this and this is why she gets dragged. It’s probably because she is young, but it’s also due to her white arrogance, white privilege, and white supremacist thought.
I recently listened to Banks new album “Broke with Expensive Taste” and it’s solid from start to finish. I can understand her frustration. She’s very talented and wants her voice to be acknowledged. It’s hard due to the current music industry which is determined to make white women the new black women, all the while forcing black women artists to play into rigid white standards of beauty and sing/rap about nothing. Banks wants to be free to be herself and you can’t be mad at her about that.
This is one of my jams from the album. Banks has an interesting story behind the song “Idle Delilah.”
“Idle Delilah’s father is a famed slave owner in the early 1900’s (America). Delilah is his favorite child. Delilah’s mother Lillith knew of the hatred her father had created for himself in the town by a pro-slavery activist. One day, the white man’s slaves grow tired of his bad treatment and decide to kill his favorite daughter Delilah as payback.“