About That Azealia Banks and Angel Haze Feud

Azealia Banks and Angel Haze. Photos courtesy of Facebook.

It’s telling of the early-January news drought and of hip-hop hand-waving freakoutery — particularly when women are involved — that the first big music story of 2013 has become a Twitter microfeud between two rappers: Azealia Banks, who broke out in 2011 with “212” and who, thanks to a couple other microfeuds, has a gaffe count also somewhere around 212, and Angel Haze, whose Reservation EP won her best-of-the-year accolades alongside Banks just last year. If this sounds familiar, it should — arguments like these have a way of leaving Twitter and encroaching upon the real world, and of drawing a certain kind of attention from people who don’t otherwise follow promising rappers’ careers. We can probably all agree that this is regrettable — if perhaps not for the same reasons.

The details, removed from OMG! immediacy, become mundane: Banks tweeted on Thursday that people not born in NYC shouldn’t identify as New Yorkers, and Haze, who was born in Detroit but later moved to New York, took offense. (Banks and Haze, like countless rappers before them, trade on regional pride in their breakout tracks — Banks, who is from Harlem, with “212” [Manhattan’s area code], and Haze with “New York”) This prompted a war of slurs, with various degrees of spite and homophobia/transphobia. Both artists are bisexual, and both have significant gay fanbases — particularly Banks, whose subcultural omnivorism includes ball culture. As such, much of the backlash has come from the gay community, including GLAAD. There was quick remorse: Haze apologizing for a colorist tweet, Banks sorta-apologizing for calling Perez Hilton, involved for some reason, a f*ggot (then justifying it with various “I knew what I said” and “it’s not really about a gay male”s.) There were three diss tracks, also quick: recorded in hours and alternatively slick (Banks, with a serviceable Machinedrum backing track and bent closer to “I’m hot” than “you’re not”) and scrappy (Haze’s, practically freestyled; she claimed this was on purpose, not wanting to “waste studio time.”) There was the sense that the tracks themselves were almost beside the point, despite their most quoted lines calling people out for being solely “Internet goon[s], Twitter personalities” (Haze, on “Shut the Fuck Up,”) or boasting about going for “profit not gossip” (Banks, on “No Problems.”) There was the creeping uncomfortable sense that the press would have the wrong sort of field day with the whole mess.

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