As light travels faster than sound, I saw Azealia Banks before I heard her.
In the black and white video for her debut single 212 she is all smiling eyes and cheekbones and carefree charm and serious charisma. And then the delightful nastiness of her lyrics hit, her lips fill the frame and she is pretty much chanting the word c–t.
Azealia Banks is one of this year’s hot young things: The most highly ranked female on the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll, she was invited to tour the UK by NME with other musical up and comers. She’s sung at Karl Lagerfeld’s house and the Chanel big wig recently asked her to perform at an exhibit in Tokyo. She has just collaborated with wearily well prolific producer Diplo on a new song “F— Up The Fun,” and is rumored to be working with a host of other heat generating humans including M.I.A., Lana Del Rey and Kanye West.
Every time I listen to her or read or watch an interview I feel better, relieved somehow. I just like her. I like that Azealia is even out there for me to like. I like that she seems a little reckless. I like her languid cover of Interpol’s “Slow Hands”. And I like that in the Iggy Azealia XXL magazine cover kerfuffle she defined herself as a ‘pro-black girl’.
I like the picture of Azealia sitting on Mulberry’s front row at London’s 2012 fashion week. It feels political somehow that the Harlem-born, La Guardia-educated rapper in the throng of it girls is the only person of color; she’s the only one whose public image isn’t of sweet compliance, and is the only one you can imagine using the word c–t, as a term of endearment, no less.
I like to like black women who have the audacity to be creative. Because audacity isn’t easy, but it is exactly what it takes for black women to get things done, made and presented in their image without compromise.
I think about creative black women a lot.