Between all her various feuds and controversies, it’s easy to forget that Azealia Banks is first and foremost a recording artist, but she is. And today, she reminded us of that fact by releasing a new song. A cover of The Strokes‘ “Barely Legal” off their seminal 2001 album Is This It, to be exact. Listen to it here:
She makes the song her own by singing it in her trademark style, and it oozes with that ineffably cool quality that made her a blog darling in the first place. (The Strokes X Azealia Banks = exponential coolness explosion.) Which makes me wonder: are we over her little f-word episode enough to enjoy this single with a clean conscience?
Here’s the thing: I do not believe Azealia Banks to be a homophobe. I just think that she, like the dudes of Odd Future, has decided to vocally disagree with the common liberal tenet that “words matter.” I think she really has thought about this, and I think she has come to the wrong conclusion. No one who is not a gay man is allowed to repurpose the word “faggot.” However, I do believe she hit upon some essential liberal hypocrisies by pointing out that some offensive words are tolerated, while others are not.
I also think this whole thing is the result of a performer appearing to share some of the liberal blogosphere’s values (she’s smart, seemingly gay friendly, and progressive, and also, she likes indie rock!) but not others (politically correct language). You don’t hear people getting on Lil’ Wayne for calling women bitches and hoes, and that’s because they never thought he was “one of us” to begin with. If you think I am implying the liberal blogosphere to be tacitly elitist in ways that have to do with class, race, and social capital, you are correct.
In the end, I had a similar reaction to Azealia’s f-word debacle to many, but I’m willing to look at the reaction in a critical way than some and concede that it might also have revealed some of my own shortcomings. Which is all to say: the new single is great, I will keep listening to Azealia’s music until she gives me a real reason not to.