In the past week, Azealia Banks has loudly split from Lady Gaga‘s manager Troy Carter (implying that his ego was a factor in the decision), deleted her Twitter account (which helped bring her to prominence in the first place) and denounced the “rap game,” claiming that she now wants to be considered a “vocalist.” This kind of behavior is something you’d expect from a more established artist like Nicki Minaj, not a 21-year-old who has yet to release a mixtape in completion.
That said, Banks has had quite a year: When Banks burst onto the scene nine months ago with the vulgar and outrageously catchy “212,” she captivated an audience in dire need of female rap representation. While Minaj had previously held the title of the hipster fashionista’s favorite hip-hop chanteuse, her pop music submergence has started to turn off her original supporters. While Banks may seem poised to take over her position, she still still has to earn her stripes, even if the fashion industry has convinced her otherwise (Alexander Wang invited her as his date to the Met Gala, and Prada commissioned her to perform at their after party).
As StyleCaster’s “What’s Next” editor Susie G puts it, “Azealia Banks’ rise to fame and Internet stardom is a product of the YouTube Generation we live in. Her lyrics and beats are easy to comprehend, along with her ‘this is who I am, deal with it, bitch’ attitude.”
Susie was also quick to note the fact that even prior to the release of her EP 1991, she was performing a set at Coachella. It’s hard not to compare Banks to another artist who recently blew up thanks to viral videos, the approval of fashion folk, and high-profile appearances: Lana Del Rey. Del Rey’s now infamous SNL blunder would have stunted anyone’s career ten years ago, but it just made people hungrier for more.
I rejected Banks at first. Candidly, I found her cavalier attitude and age off-putting, but I quickly retracted my negative feelings after hearing some of her songs (they’re great). However, now I feel like I’m back where I started. While her recent media stunts may make her fan base even stronger, they actually just come off as spoiled and ungrateful. A four song EP and a Karl Lagerfeld endorsement may get you plenty of gifted tweed to pair with your high-top sneakers, but it does not a career make.
What Azealia has proven thus far is that anyone with a pretty face, foul mouth and lively Internet personality can get famous. What she needs to prove is that they can stay famous for the right reasons.