Harlem-bred rapper Azealia Banks has been one of the most buzzed about artists in the past couple of years. With her Twitter beefs, losing endorsement deals for using a gay slur, her purple hair and wild antics, she’s always a subject of hipster conversation. But in a new interview with London’s Sunday Times, she’s opening up about some pretty harrowing and dark times of her young life.
But before we share those tidbit with you, we want to draw attention to the fact that in the sub-headline of the story, the paper’s writer calls Azealia, “pops hottest ho”…… NOT OKAY! Shame on you Sunday Times! Black women with talent and active sex lives are not hoes!!!!!
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Read the excerpts of the interview below.
On when she knew she wanted to become a rapper:
[Azealia] would sleep with people she thought might help her to escape home and get to the top. She eventually persuaded one of her boyfriends to give a tape to the producer Diplo and, to her astonishment, he got in touch. “Of course, I thought, I’m going to take over the world,” she says. “I’m the new Lil’ Kim.” The only problem was that her raps were “sh-t”. For a long time, nobody wanted to work with her. She had to record 212 in someone’s bedroom. She made the video for $30 in a dirty top on the street. She thought nothing would come of it, but when she put the track on the internet, she got nearly 60m hits. “I was like, sh-t! I’m famous,” she shrieks. “I’m rich. I’m famous.” The first thing she did was fire everyone. “You’re fired, and you’re fired, and you’re fired,” she says. “You didn’t wanna ride with me when I didn’t have no hair weave and a dirty Mickey Mouse sweater on,” she says. “Go ahead. Kiss my ass.” She is now by far the most frightening thing in pop.
On her upcoming debut album
The subject of her album is her “quest for womanhood” and the fact that Banks now carries “a proper purse, I shave my legs, and I have co-workers and authority and stuff like that. I need to stop daydreaming and talking about stupid stuff,” she says. She has been working on the album for five years, ever since she retired from acting at 16.
The new album, she promises, will mark a transition from “loud girl running her mouth” to something, she claims, more grown-up. “I want guys to think I’m sexy. I want guys to think I’m someone to take out. I am a pretty lady and I want people to know I’m a pretty lady. No one knows I’m a pretty lady.” So why does she pick fights? “I can’t look like a p-ssy,” she says.
On working at the strip club at age 17:
The best thing about fame, however, is the money. She was “mad broke” until just over a year ago. At one point, she was so poor, she worked at a strip club and had her boyfriend pay the rent. He would drop by her house while she “smoked weed” all day, until one day she noticed a man sitting in a car outside, “and I’d be like, who is this? What is he doing there? He’d just stare at me.” The man was a private detective, hired after his wife found out about their relationship.
“My boyfriend had started on me, like, ‘I don’t love you any more’, just hurtful stuff, and, of course, my young dumb-ass started sending his wife emails. And I was psycho, and all of a sudden the same man popped up at my door with $10,000 and was like, ‘If you want this $10,000, you need to give me all your phones and computers.’ ” He wanted to get rid of “anything I could send his wife”. She was so desperate for money, she took “two seconds” to say yes. “Being young and in love is crazy,” she shrieks. “Being young and in love with an older man is crazier. It was just a mess.”
On white men and sex :
She loves white men. She has written songs about how much she likes “marshmallows”. She is also frank about her “daddy issues”. She was constantly pestered for sex by older men when she started out, responding, she says, by having sex with “some of them”. And did she enjoy it? “Of course I enjoyed it. Girl! That is the best thing, you already know.” Sometimes she cries if she hasn’t had enough sex. She has slept with “like, 25 or 30” people in total. “I’m not even ashamed of it,” she says. She thinks about sex “all the time. Like, oh, please.”
On the oldest man she’s ever slept with:
The oldest man she has dated was 56. He used to come in and flirt with her when she was working in Starbucks, “and he was really rich, of course. When I was little, I had a radar for that.” He would take her to dinner in Chelsea, “and we’d be in some fancy restaurant and I’d be there with my sweat suit on”. He thought it was “the funniest thing ever. He really got off on it.” What was it like, being 17 and sleeping with a 56-year-old? “It’s like f****** an old man,” she says.
She has since set herself boundaries. “I’m not dating any men over the age of 37.” She has a huge crush on Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, “and I met him in Portugal recently and it was really awkward”.
On her sexuality :
She can also see herself having relationships with women now. She first knew she liked girls when she was 10. “I had this friend named Nicole who was so fresh,” she says. “She would always have mascara and wear gloss and would have padded bras, and we’d have these slumber parties. I think all kids do gay stuff, but we got to the point in childhood where I was like, oooh, sign me up.” She didn’t talk about being bisexual until she was 19 though, partly because of her mother, who threw her sister out of the house when she came out. She thought that Lakimba would “go to hell”. “She’d be like, ‘Don’t have that bitch in that house.’ ” Her mother thought “gay stuff” was “evil” and dismissed all men as gay. “She was like, ‘Oh no, he’s got a watch on his right arm. That’s the gay arm.’ She called Aids ‘the Aids’. I was like, ‘Ma, it’s not 1974. It’s 2013. Just relax.’ ”
On her not-so-normal childhood :
Banks grew up in Harlem with her mother and two sisters. Her father died of pancreatic cancer when she was two, “from red meat, coffee, cocaine and Courvoisier”. He was a cokehead, she says with a note of pride, “till 63”. Her mother “lost her mind” a few years after he died. Banks claims she became physically and verbally abusive. She had fistfights with her daughters, sometimes attacking them with baseball bats, Banks says. She once beat up a Mexican limo driver in the street after he hit Banks with a bag of rubbish. When her mother found out one of their boyfriends had cheated, she went round and hammered on his door, saying she would “cut his dick off and put it in a pan with some onions and peppers”. “She’s crazy,” says Banks.
As a child, she would dream of escape, “that I would become famous and be on Nickelodeon and have all these handlers and then I’d never have to deal with my mother. She would beat me and abuse me, but then buy me stuff.” Her room was filled with “parakeets and hamsters” and games consoles, “but I was such an unhappy kid”. She was sent to an expensive Catholic girls’ school because her mother “didn’t want me to go to a school with all the dirty kids on the block”, but when she turned up, she was the only black girl and “all the Dominican girls were b-tches”. She got into fights “all the time, whipping people’s asses”, and eventually had to leave, enrolling at a performing-arts high school instead. The plan was that she would become an actress, but she was often too stoned to read scripts.
She started smoking at 15 because she was “sad”. She was “always a sad little girl”, and is in many ways “still sad now”. She bursts into tears. “A lot of the time, I feel really attacked by the world,” she wails. Even when she got famous, her mother couldn’t be happy for her. She is “jealous”, says Banks, “but she can’t act weird with me now, because she’s going to ask for stuff. You want a new TV, you want a new washing machine?” She cries hard for two or three minutes. “It suuuucks,” she sobs. [<—-sad!]
On her twitter beefs :
The only problem is that Banks seems to find these fights so exciting. She happily lays into Miley Cyrus, saying she is “ignorant” and “uninspired”. She doesn’t regret calling Lily Allen a “cokehead” in an online spat with the LDN singer a few months ago — “I’m from New York City. I’m sure she’s a big thing in the UK, but I don’t know who she is” — although she is sorry she called Perez Hilton a “******”, because she lost her deal with Mac. “Thirty minutes of laughter cost me my contract,” she sighs.