Twitter Beef: Rihanna vs. Azealia Banks | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Twitter Beef: Rihanna vs. Azealia Banks

Luke Charnley tells us why Rihanna's online fracas with Azealia Banks is nothing but a damp squib

Music feuds are no uncommon thing. For some, the spectacle of 2 or more prominent showbiz figures taking pot-shots at each other, be it through song or the Twittersphere, is a source of endless entertainment. Others actively steer away from discussing it, believing that airing personal disagreements in front of hundreds of thousands of people is more often than not a mere popularity ploy. More often than not this seems the case: there are many examples of rivalries that focus around one having greater sales figures than the other (see Blur vs. Oasis, Kanye West vs. 50 Cent). In the recent case of Rihanna vs. Azealia Banks, however, I feel that the reasons behind it are far more juvenile and pathetic.

In the recent case of Rihanna vs. Azealia Banks, however, I feel that the reasons behind it are far more juvenile and pathetic

The dispute began as a political one after the White House executive order preventing citizens of 7 Muslim-majority nations access to the US sparked worldwide protests and condemnation from dozens of prominent public figures. It was Rihanna’s public condemnation of the ban that drew scorn from New York hip-hop artist Azealia Banks, who has previously voiced support for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Banks denounced the criticism of Trump before pointing out Rihanna’s own Bajan background. From there, the argument descended into a series of indirect Instagram posts, the details of which are unimportant. What I did find noteworthy however was how this debacle reflects a disturbing trend in Bank’s behaviour.

Despite only dropping her debut EP 1991 less than 5 years ago, Azealia Banks has enjoyed significant critical acclaim both for the aforementioned EP and her first full length Broke with Expensive Taste. She has also championed African-American civil rights, encouraging young African-Americans to get involved in politics. All this seems to have changed in a matter of a few short years, however, as the artist has become embroiled in a number of controversies. The highest profile controversy was her racist and homophobic tirade against Zayn Malik which resulted in her being dropped from the line-up of a UK festival and having her Twitter suspended. Additionally, she has been involved in numerous nightclub altercations and admitted to performing the ritual sacrifice of animals in her home. Needless to say, she is in dire need of a PR manager.

Banks has often cited Rihanna as an influence, so it seems rather contradictory that she would attempt to start a rivalry with her. That is, of course, until you step back and take a look at the freefall it appears Bank’s career is in. The artist has had several struggles with record labels that have prevented her from releasing music, and it appears her most recent project has suffered a setback. What better way to try to stay in the media spotlight than to create controversy? This is the tried and tested method employed by outspoken celebrities (Kanye West) throughout the years, but in the case of Azealia Banks it feels like a stab at publicity rather than a marker of her actual personality.

What better way to try to stay in the media spotlight than to create controversy?

As ‘controversies’ go, this is a weak one: a tabloid-baiting attempt at relevance by an artist arguably more known for her contrarian outbursts than for her music at this point. A desperate attempt to piggyback on a humanitarian crisis that has only served to further discredit herself. The sad, inevitable thing is that it won’t be the last time we have to hear from Azealia Banks.

Second year English student. Interests include music, film and books. (@lukechazza97)



Published

12th February 2017 at 12:26 pm



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