Your interview with Ebro, your beef with Kendrick, T.I. and Iggy, and your public Twitter war with Lupe piqued my curiosity and compelled me to reach out to you directly. You’re everywhere these days. Half of the posts on my Facebook timeline are about you. Music blogs report every little thing you say and everything you tweet, hyping up the drama, but overlooking the deeper points you make. As a Hip Hop culture critic and writer, I’m much more interested in those deeper points that cornball bloggers and dime-a-dozen racists seem to gloss over.
Truth is, I didn’t know much about your music except for that “212” joint you dropped a few years ago. It wasn’t really my thing. I’m more of a traditionalist so if it’s not Boom Bap Hip Hop, heavy on dusty chopped up samples and grimy kicks and snares, it usually doesn’t resonate with me. But out of fairness, I decided to check out your latest project before writing this letter and sharing my unsolicited 2 cents. While your album didn’t really move me, as someone who grew up with House music, I respect what you’re doing and recognize that it’s light years ahead of the trash on the radio. But at the end of the day, I’m just not the audience for it.
With that said, after having read countless comments from people calling you crazy, a bitch, a dumb hoe, and other derogatory terms for simply voicing your mind, I want to let you know that I’m proud of you for boldly speaking up about the bullshit plaguing mainstream rap music. Too many popular rappers use their platform to spread mindless gossip rather than sharing thought-provoking ideas. Everything you’ve been saying about Iggy, cultural misappropriation, and the state of Black culture is worthy of public discourse and likely to motivate your fans to do some research…even if the part about Black people being “Naturally Born Seers, Diviners, Witches and Wizards” may confuse a whole lot of folks.
While your delivery may be “rough around the edges”, given a little bit of time and experience, I trust you’ll be able to express your views in a much more polished manner. Still, I agree with your stance on Iggy. I agree with your perspective on the watering-down of rap music. I agree with everything you said regarding Black culture around the world being erased. This shit has been going on for a long time. And for many years now, rap artists have been silenced, muted, neutered, and verbally castrated by mainstream media for speaking about social issues and challenging the status quo . It’s good to know that things are changing with artists like you leading the way.
Surprisingly, your music doesn’t reflect your social awareness…or maybe I’m missing something. However, now that you have the world’s attention, it’s the perfect time to infuse some of your insight and socially relevant themes into your music. While promoting your new album, it would be dope to release a few free joints on the side, basically speaking on the issues you seem passionate about (i.e. reparations, African traditions, etc). It would be a perfect opportunity to educate your younger listeners, and even adults who may not always understand what you’re talking about on Twitter or your various radio interviews.
We’re at a point in Hip Hop right now, at least in the mainstream world, where rappers with meaningful content are becoming more accepted. I hate to bring up the same rappers that everyone keeps naming but Kendrick Lamar and J Cole are two artists who are definitely at the forefront of bringing lyricism back to mainstream rap. Of course, I know you’re not feeling Kendrick but it’s hard to deny the fact that he’s impacted popular rap in a big way…even if you feel he’s a sellout. Bottom line is, the world is sick and tired of hearing the same garbage that commercial rap has been selling us for the past 15 years. That’s why I think it’s a perfect time for you to rap about the issues you unapologetically express outside your music. I’m sure you’re probably tired of hearing people giving you their opinion about what they think you should do, but please believe me when I tell you that I have your best interest at heart.
Even though some people have ridiculed you for being emotional during your interview with Ebro and Rosenberg, I really felt your spirit, and I was happy to see you being so open and unafraid to be who you are. With all of these frontin’ ass rappers out here, talking loud and saying nothing, your vulnerability was a breath of fresh air and proved that you have a bigger heart than most of these industry clowns. In a world where artists, especially rappers, are being constantly dehumanized, it’s refreshing to see someone who isn’t afraid to be human. Don’t let the industry ever take that away from you.
This article is also published at http://raprehab.com/open-letter-azaleia-banks/