Female Emcees – Part II Azaelia Banks
Azealia Banks identifies with a “Queer” culture and uses this culture, particularly “Queer” culture associated with gay men of color (voguing, reading, fashion, drag, etc.), to have a large presence within her music. Since rap as a genre and hip hop as a culture that has historically excluded homosexual participation, she brings something new to the table.
One of my girlfriends joined in the conversation and commented that: “some may argue that Banks fetishizes this gay [black] culture, just as she participates in the perpetuation of hyper-sexualized [rapper] femininity. In spite of this, she has opened the door for femininity and “Queer-ness” as a female rapper in such a way that no one has dared to, but in order to gain a broader and more enriched perspective of both homosexuality and femininity within hip hop we need to hear more voices…different voices.” Despite this, she still believes that there’s is a hyper-sexualization of black femininity, especially those who are a part of the rap genre.
But Banks has made headlines for more than just her sexy lyrics: she was at the eye of the hurricane after having called Perez Hilton a “messy faggot” back in January. According to the crunk feminist collective, “our society subscribes to an insidiously misogynistic sociocultural paradigm, to insult someone, notwithstanding gender, is to invoke the feminine. So what better way for Banks to cut Hilton down to size than to call his masculinity into question? The Banks/Hilton feud had absolutely nothing to do with sexual identity (read: homophobia), but rather, gender power dynamics (read: femmephobia). Azealia calling Perez a “messy faggot” suggests an attempt to assert her status as a no-nonsense, hard ass femcee in a largely masculine dominated hip-hop industry.
Should Azalia and other young artists be rapping about other things besides our sexual desires? Should they portray a more “masculine” approach to their songs just because hip-hop is a male dominated domain? On another hand, why should they if men are extremely open about talking about their own sexual pleasure or their sexual identity? Female emcees might be representing womanhood in general more than just themselves contrary to how male rappers get to say almost anything and not be critiqued -
at least not as much.