Azealia Banks and Black Female Audacity

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012


I wonder about them and worry about them. I feel hyper protective of them and all their audacity. I think of Black Female Audacity as its own thing with hard and loose rules:

  • Create on your own terms
  • Understand what it means to be a black woman and the implications of being a black woman and choosing to create on your own terms
  • Do not pretend it is easy for you to get things done just because it’ll make others feel comfortable
  • Do not shy away from vulnerability although you understand that vulnerability isn’t art in and of itself
  • Do not explain yourself

The musical artists I’ve loved the most have all been black and female and had oodles of audacity.

Nina Simone always bold as brass, whether damning the state of Mississippi, or facing down a lover foolish enough to leave. And Grace Jones whose music was full of sounds my 8-year-old self found so pleasingly complicated. I remember looking at her album covers and becoming transfixed. She was black like me, my mum and my aunts, but looked different in a way that I felt different.

When I was a teenager it was Lil’ Kim’s lewdness that meant the most, because it never felt like a for-the-sake-of-it endeavour, but always as though she was making a point about femininity and strength. More recently it is the lyrics of the delightfully uncategorizable Santigold that I play over and over again in my head when I’m feeling fearful and my brain needs an infusion of courage. On the way to work, I sing to myself, “I know someday they’ll make a martyr out of me.”

I wouldn’t put Azealia Banks is in the same league as these ladies who are my personal hall of famers—she is too young in age and career, and I have no idea where she’ll go or if she’ll be more than that one rude hit wonder. But more than any artist new artist she interests me. Azealia Banks vibrates with energy and brims with playful audacity, and I can’t help but root for her.

– Sara Bivigou

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