Role Models / Trashy Tributes

Role Model: Azealia Banks (A Mostly Screenshot Tribute)

Dearest Filthy Dreams readers, I’m coming out…as a Kunt. Yes, with a K not a C (though that word has also been lobbed at me. I’ll accept it). But today, I want to come out of the soap door as a member of the Kunt Brigade, those rabid fans of the underrated and under-appreciated rapper, singer, soap entrepreneur, insult master Azealia Banks.

Yes, fellow Kunts, I love Azealia with the unwavering, undying love of a true frenzied fanatic. And sure, I know some of you naysayers will be complaining: But what about her recent conspiracy-driven rant against PrEP, in reference to Frank Ocean’s ill-advised and poorly considered, nostalgic “queer” (without many queers) party PrEP+? What about when she slandered our blessed mother Lana? What about when she insulted _____________ (add any number of names here)? What about when she kept using the word “faggot”? Look, I get it, pearl-clutchers. But true love means accepting your beloved for who they are. I don’t make the rules.

As many of you faithful Filthy Dreams readers know, I curated a group show Idol Worship, which opens next Saturday at Smack Mellon. And well, I feel compelled to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I’m not like these other academically inclined curators looking with a remove and critical distance at their chosen show theme. Bores. Instead, I’m curating a show on unhinged obsession because well, like John Waters, I thrive off of it. And the person who takes up probably the most of my mental space on a daily basis is Azealia Banks.

This June, I even waited (drinking) for five hours in order to see her perform for Pride at 3 Dollar Bill in Williamsburg, arriving early in the hopes that AB would make good on her promise to cook a “BBQ by Azealia,” including chicken sandwiches and jalapeño cornbread drizzled with stomach-churning but probably quite good strawberry sauce. Spoiler alert: she didn’t. She was doing more important things like dying her extensive wig a rainbow spectrum in honor of Pride. Clearly, it was worth it.

When did I first discover my Azealia frenzy? Truthfully, it was probably lying dormant for years, ever since her iconic songs like “212” and “1991,” as well as a video scrubbing a blood and feather-splattered chicken slaughtering closet in her New York apartment (all you fakers buying spell packets in Bushwick witchcraft stores can’t compete). However, my adoration kicked into high gear last year when Azealia was stranded at space boy Elon Musk’s complex waiting for his elfin girlfriend Grimes, with whom she was supposed to collaborate. Drinking red wine and trying to scrounge for food, Azealia roasted Musk inside his own home, describing his “pork skin” and “froggy eyelids.” It’s what they deserved. Though it is a shame Grimes and Azealia never collaborated on some A.I. cyborg duet–I bet it would have been an instant intergalactic classic.

But even without that duet, Azealia’s musical talent is unrivaled in hip-hop, despite the lack of recognition she seems to receive (mostly because the press loves covering a shit storm of drama). Her songs resemble 90s house on acid, and she’s revolutionized sea punk, mermaid aesthetics, penned a song with the lyric “surfer Billy bing bong,” and made Anna Wintour seem, not just human, but role model-worthy. Plus, she’s versatile as hell: she sings, she raps, she screams, she moans, she growls, she yells about setting men on fire. Okay. Those last few are from Azealia’s recently released mixtape Yung Rapunxel II, a shocking, nearly unlistenable yet I’d argue, genius sonic techno assault. It’s akin to being bludgeoned by a first listen of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in 1978. Those audience members weren’t ready to hear Lydia Lunch screeching about “little orphans running through the bloody snow” either. But, now, it’s a legendary sound. I feel the same way about YRII.

Beyond her music, Azealia is an entrepreneur, with her brand CheapyXO, best known for the butthole “lighten and tighten” soap Bussyboy (not to be confused with Pussypop). Basically, Azealia went through, as she terms, “the soap door,” and your fave could never. And while, sure, lots of celebrities have make-up or beauty brands, none of them post startling before and after shots of balloon knots on social media to prove the efficacy of their recipe. She has the asshole results! I want to see Rihanna do that.

AB is also an avid cook, whose unique culinary creations frequently grace her Instagram stories. Marion and I have fantasized for years about creating our own cooking show in which we progressively get drunker and drunker as we craft our meal and eventually, just devolve so much that we forget about our food–or being hungry–all together. Well, I’m jealous to say, Azealia beat us to it yet again. Like Azealia, we also would have viewers screaming at us to close the refrigerator door as we leave it open to cool the room. Cooking gets hot! Every so often, Azealia mentions wanting to create a cookbook and I want to say formally here: I will do anything and everything in my power to help make that happen, Azealia. Need a writer? The first taste of this cookbook might be my favorite blog post of all time, which gives tasteful wine and snack pairings. What pairs best with Merlot, you ask? Of course, Corn Pops! Don’t knock it till you try it!

A book would make sense because Azealia, even beyond her music, has a way with words, namely insults. Look. A good insult is an art form, and Azealia is the master. She has a method of cutting deep in unexpected and envy-inducing ways, from naming Elon “Apartheid Clyde” to describing Grimes as “Pabst blue pussy.” Genius. And her insults aren’t only restricted to people. While her prodigious list of public feuds on Wikipedia is legendary, she’s gone after entire countries from Ireland to Sweden (while in both countries). And I know, these feuds make her “controversial” or a “problematic fave.” But, in 2019, with respectability politics weighing so heavy, particularly on Black women, to have someone like Azealia not give a fuck is inspiring and revolutionary, even if you don’t like what she says. And don’t imagine for a second that if she wasn’t a Black woman, it would have affected her career in the same way it has.

And there’s simply nothing like the thrill of seeing that Azealia updated her Instagram stories, and the feed looks like a series of ellipses “…………………………………..” as if someone fell asleep on their keyboard. That excitable manic moment drives me to take numerous screenshots of her stories, preserving them in my phone’s camera roll for some unknown reason and for some unknown goal. Well, I’ve finally found it: showing them to all of you and hopefully sparking your own AB fanaticism (presented without comment, for a change):

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