Do you know who Azealia Banks is?
The 24 year old former student of the “Fame” school in Manhattan is well known in selective social demographics as being a firecracker. The native New Yorker attended the Laguardia High School of Performing Arts to study musical theater, but dropped out at the age of 17 to focus on rapping. Banks then made a MySpace page to share her tracks in 2008, a venue where she became popular enough to get a recording deal with XL Records not too long after. The fruits of that deal were never to be tasted, and Banks was set free of her contract. Banks then set up a Twitter account later in life, and began her arguable brand of self promotion resembling a kind of theater of the internet.
Since that first tweet in 2010, the aspiring rapper has found herself being the common denominator in Twitter wars with Kryeashawn, T.I., Iggy Azalea (whom Banks believes reappropriated her name as well as black culture, referring to her in tweets as “Igloo Australia”), Lil’ Kim, Jim Jones, Nicki Minaj and even independent contemporary Angel Haze. The concept of beef is no stranger to the hip-hop community. The 90’s proved that a battle between East and West could end lives too soon and sell millions of records. Banks, intention aside, found herself in tweet wars (this isn’t the 90’s) up until the release of her heavily hyped debut album, and she’s been battle tweeting ever since and well after her music has silenced in the clubs of New York.
I think the case of Azealia Banks offers a lot to think about in regards to how we define the current point of entry to what being famous means. As recently as this week, Banks was flying domestic on a Delta flight when she got in a physical tiff with a flight attendant. In 2015, two hundred cameras were on board the flight and the footage made its way to online paparazzi outfit TMZ before being spread to the blogs that represent Banks’ particular fan base – blogs for gay men and hip-hop fans. In the video, Banks can be heard calling the flight attendant a bad word for gay flight attendants. Banks temporality deleted her fabled Twitter account after the flight, only to come back to the site to issue some defensive statements and an apology to the people that like her music. Banks’ first album was called Broke with Expensive Taste, and it’s true – she has only had one hit and currently has no contract with a major label. By traditional standards, Banks is not famous to mainstream audiences. But she does have 568,000 followers on Twitter – a big group of people ready and waiting for her statements. Banks provides a case study, as well, for how small the amount of time between an action and a reaction has become in the age of social media. If you have ever been let go from your job or perhaps your relationship and taken to social media to avenge yourself to your followers, Banks may be your hero.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Natasha Aftandilians