As she speaks her eyes grow wider and she becomes more and more passionate as she lets loose on the growing canon of artists who, she feels at least, rely on her for half-baked inspiration. “You have no respect for the fact that I’m suffering here. You have no respect for the fact that I’m really, really fighting for what I have. And the main reason I’m anti-pop is not because it’s popular but it’s because the art gets so watered down and diluted by the time it gets out that you… you know that there’s a trickledown theory of economics? I feel like there’s a fucked-up theory of music, you know? These artists just suck shit up,” she says as she mimics the action of hoovering up coke into her nasal cavity. “They suck your blood,” she rasps. “They try to take your image and your essence and everything and the next thing you know, the bitch is painting her eyes so that her
face can be shaped like yours.”
Banks’ detest for imitation extends beyond her own work, as she lays into what she sees as a homogenous, leech-filled industry. “It’s like ‘Yeezus’ and the Death Grips. You have the Death Grips, who are phenomenal, phenomenal – avant garde, that’s the real energy. And then you have ‘Yeezus’, which is good, but it’s a knock-off of the Death Grips. I am anti-pop because I don’t think it’s conducive to cultural progression.” In fact, Banks’ take on the current state of culture is more than gloomy. “I feel like since blue jeans and Coca Cola, we’ve just been kind of going down,” she says. “Like, after jazz, after the 60s. Once disco hit, that’s when I feel like it really started getting bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Even politicians back in the day, the words they would use and everything. Culture was so more interesting then because the people were more interested. Now everybody’s blocked out by fast food and fucking Twitter. All these vlogs trying to tell you who’s dating who and who has all this money. You’re worried about how much money this person has? They’re never gonna give you any of it, you know?” She seems to have forgotten where the conversation started as she turns her temper on the record industry at large. “It’s just a really dry, stupid way to live. You make all these personal sacrifices for what? To sit at a table with a bunch of other niggas who don’t fucking like you and that you don’t fucking like. That’s how it is, but whatever.”
Amidst all of the background noise, Azealia Banks is trying, she says, to stay on her own path. “I think success for me is just making sure I’m enjoying everything that I’m doing. I feel like there are things that seem really nice to me, but I don’t know if I’m really ready to – not kiss asses or anything like that.” She pauses. “But I dunno, I feel like, especially in today’s industry and its musical accolades, there’s this whole holding your tongue, this shtick that you do, like, ‘Oh my god I love my fans,’ and this fakeness that people run off.”
This preoccupation with authenticity leads us on to another facet of Banks’ life, which has been less than simple; her relationship with the press. The mere mention of music journalism as a practice is enough to set her off (“Journalism is an art form in itself; I don’t need you to report what has happened.”), and when we touch on how the Disclosure argument was portrayed in the press, she is firm in her assertion that she has been labelled wholly incorrectly by a prejudiced press who are keen to exploit her position as a black female to construct a fictionalised figure that relies on lazy stereotypes.
“I know this is really fucked up to keep making it about race but look, I’m telling you,” she says. “The only reason they’re trying to paint me like that is because I’m a black woman. They always try to paint you to be some angry black woman when I know that I’m not. I’m just passionate. I speak at a certain volume because that’s the way I’m genetically made. I’m not angry, I promise you. I’m just speaking my mind. And then there’ll be another white female celebrity and she’ll say what she has to say about something and they’ll report it very matter of fact, but whenever it’s me they’ll try to hype it up like I’m some angry black bitch. It just makes me want to play into it. Y’all want angry black bitch, I’m gonna give you angry black bitch. But it’s got to the point where I can’t defend myself anymore. I don’t have time to explain myself; I have my life to live.” She breathes in and repeats another mantra-like declaration. “I have my life to live.”
And so she does. Putting the spats with the UK’s most-loved dance duo aside, forgetting the (fairly constant) Iggy Azalea-bating and the record company bust-ups, the big topic for the final Loud And Quiet of the year is how Azealia Banks plans to spend her Christmas. For all the controversy around her, the answer, it should be said, is sadly prosaic. “I’m probably going to stay in my apartment. I’ll put up a Christmas tree but it’s really for my nieces and nephews. We’ll just put up a Christmas tree and we’ll probably make something fun to eat and watch movies and open gifts. I’ll probably be in bed by 5pm on Christmas.” The thought doesn’t last long before a mischievous twinkle flashes in her eyes. “Or maybe there’ll be a party to go to!”