Lessons of the Grind: What AZEALIA BANKS’ Grind Afforded Her With FORBES (and Beyond)…


Hold on to your pocketbooks, and wigs ‘cause I’m about to split’em with this news here. So without further adieu, allow me to introduce you to Forbes’ 2014 Hip-Hop Cash Princess. They [Forbes] want people like me to introduce her to you in case you didn’t know about this news (or in case you didn’t know her):

First Name: Azealia.

Last name: (places people laugh all the way too after being the underdog, ridiculed or being kept underground, or from front and center commercial success): Banks.

 images (73) That’s right, Azealia Banks is her name.

When it comes to music, literature, or most any creative art form; most of the time, all it takes is the massive (commercial) success of ONE piece of work and it can change the artist’s life. For rapper Azealia Banks, that song was “2-1-2”-a raucous and vulgar, yet-versatile, unique, “triologue” of a rap sang over a kind of house music, tom-drum inspired beat that attached itself like a drug to the ears and headphones of millions in 2011.  

It was originally released free online where in the video [for it] Banks spit expletives like darts yet, and by contrast, was wearing a Mickey Mouse sweater [in the black and white video]. It went viral, and as the buzz got around about the song, unfortunately, the song’s original producer: Lazy Jay put the clamp down on the party by demanding it be ceased to exist going forward. All copies and traces of the song were taken down under protection of copyright infringement laws.

Whatever their frayed ends were [then] got mended. Lazy Jay and Azealia played nice with one another and the single “2-1-2” went on to sell $200,000.

Two and a half years later, according to Forbes, Banks is the only female on the first-ever “Hip-Hop Cash Princes” list   . She may not have much radio success but she had been on her grind. Not everybody that grinds just as hard (and sometimes makes just as much money or more) will be lucky enough to leap into radio and television/commercial success. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious about their craft any less. Azealia Banks has been performing around the world-playing festivals large and small from Coachella to Reading to Glastonbury-getting the world familiar with who she is, even if the television and radio never does. She proved that getting people familiar with who you are is not limited to radio and television.

She utilized her resources to get that accomplished in ways far beyond the Internet, even. She’s doing that old-fashioned, grass roots, hustle that a Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook follower count (put together) could never amount to, replace, (or put the lights out on like it can to the new age-three): Hustling on the asphalt-chasing pavement, and through it; creating a buzz and letting the gossiping benefit of good old-fashioned word of mouth do all the marketing, advertising and promoting for her.

images (61) Pay attention.

images (64) There’s something to be said for that, and this girl: She did it the underdog way, yet, she made the Forbes list before some of the biggest competitors that you hear and see night and day-all day over radio and tv.

Like any other awards (or Forbes list) there is a start date and cut-off date in which the work (or dividends) created or earned from the work must have began and ended and at end, it is determined whether or not the recipient (30 and under) will receive the deserved accolade or praise.

That scoring period for Forbes’ [2014] Cash Kings/Hip-Hop Cash Princes list was June 2012-June 2013 and in that period of time, Azealia Banks, 22, raked in over $1 million dollars –mostly via live shows and surprisingly has YET to release a full-length record, but don’t rest on your loins with that much longer, the rapper who says of herself: “Azealia Banks’ album is the Internet’s favorite joke” …will soon be proving the joke was on them. She is putting the finishing touches her much-anticipated, long-awaited album titled “Broke with Expensive” while she says she sits back and laugh at her naysayers.

download (35) One would wonder why Banks made the list over the likes of rappers such as the sharp-tongued download (34)Angel Haze, 20, who leaked her very own album “Dirty Gold” which, in turn, forced her label to rush-release it [which turned back disappointing sales when all was rushed and done].

images (55)  One would wonder why Banks made the list over the likes (and literal “Likes”) of rappers like the popular, sassy, Aussy-bred brazen rapper Iggy Azaleadownload (33)  Iggy, who, since 2013, has been signed to a major label: Def jam Australian and single titled “Work” ranked in over 30 million You Tube views, yet, she didn’t even make the list.

images (53)  Wonder no more.

The Hip-Hop Cash Princes list gives nods to then to rap’s most commercially successful rising stars who have the best chance of making the list in the near future. It is Bank’s touring power (despite of not much radio and tv press) that makes her a force to be reckoned with. According to PollstarPro, her shows reportedly gross $21,000 a night. That got Forbes’ judging panels attention.

    images (68)    In addition to her touring grind, what distinguishes her from her rapping peers is first: images (65)her distinctive sound, tailored-made for her by forward-thinking electronic producing powerhouses [Machinedrum and Hudson Mohawke] who, although Banks raps with the same vulgarity and bravado as her peers, it’s done over production unlike her peers’ [typical/street/usual “niche” production style behind the their lyrics].

  images (63)    Banks’ house music, dance influenced, high-energy style of production got worldwide attention via one mixtape and EP drop in 2012 and sold approximately 32,000 copies in the U.S.

images (72) It can’t be denied that Banks’ Twitter feuds rank as well. Even she can admit:

I really just feel like nowadays this generation of kids…16-25 year olds…have the Internet in our hands. We’re obsessively communicating with each other. I’m in that demographic and I’ve been able to really connect with people just by being myself. I’m really lucky that my personality is something that people are interested in.”

images (60) To know of, (or have heard of her) leaves one with opinions about her that ultimately are left up the eye of the beholder: She is either that of being [on her way to being famous—for her talent, or her infamy proceeds her—her online feuds put the focus on her talent to the back and falls by the wayside, or soon will]. It depends on who you ask.

download (45)   download (44)   download (43)   download (42)    download (41)   download (40)           images (69)  images (58)   images (57)   download (45)    images (66) images (67)

images (70)  The fact of the matter is, her rap act is no punk-it’s no gimmick-and she can beast. So despite her feuds-a-plenty, her grind and gristle and images (71)  forces to be reckoned with (despite her beef). 0x600 She remains determined to shift the focus back on that fact between and underneath it all, and so far, that’s been working out really well for her fortunately (for the craft/the art)–and fortunately +literally0x600 (1) (the payoff for the grind).

images (81)      download (51) It’s ironic that Banks’ fellow LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts classmate Nicki Minajimages (74) (who too, Azealia Banks has Twitter feuded with)      download (49) download (48) download (47) download (46) …is the only other female on Forbes’ Cash Kings List.

It’s also ironic that-like I just wrote in a recent article here at Other Side of the Fame-the scarcity of female rappers in the game right now is well: Scarce.

Although I feel I have the remedy and answer for reversing it, ironically, Banks is aware of the same damned thing, but asserts and answers it by saying this:

download (50)Because there aren’t that many good female rappers, it’s really that simple. There are certain things in society that are gender-oriented – it’s such an anomaly to be a female rapper. Feminine strength is the most superior strength and that’s why female rappers are more exciting because it’s like: ‘Oh sh!t, a girl’s doing something a man can do and she’s stronger and better and feminine and beautiful, too.’”

images (75) It’s been reported that Banks’ the long-awaited, breath-baited, pre-critically acclaimed album is set for a 2014 summer release. With no exact date reported as yet, and with a grind so hard no less different than it’s always been; whatever, or whenever it gets done-it’s obviously going to be at her own pace, on her own time and by her own maverick, as she asserts (and means): “Vagina power is like, power of the world.” 

images (80) Well, Azealia Banks’ grind ‘aint no punk and no pu$$y. It’s should serve as inspiration to you as it is proof-positive that it’s real-and something for all the world to see and know what can happen far beyond the superficial [Twitters, Instagrams, Facebooks, and ability to be a “press darling” of radio and television]. It goes back to what I said in my write up: If what you do, or have is really any good, unique, and in its own lane; they aint got no CHOICE but to wait. images (89)Because when your sh!t is really real & rare; you call your own shots (even if you fire those shots)…

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But what you CAN’T DO…is call the shots once you start playing THEIR GAME, Records sales make you temporarily popular. Record sales don’t necessarily you money, but touring sure as heavens does. Remember?


The truth is. She doesn’t really HAVE to do a whole full-length album if she doesn’t want to. She’s reached levels that even her [rivals-the Nicki Minaj’s-with countless albums] have reached and with far less media press, and Internet popularity.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that the Nicki Minaj’s grind are less than Banks’-no, not by a long shot.

images (86) Everybody’s grind is exclusive to their own story, their access-and what, and whom they have access to.

Banks works hers-her way.

The Nicki Minaj’s works theirs-their way.

You, me, and everybody else works ours-our way-all….Still: Exclusive to our own individual stories, and whom and what we have access to (and what we are working with).

THIS story is just a lesson in the grind of the underdog:

images (90) It aint always the size of the dog, but it’s the bite of it-the fight of it. Azealia Banks is kicking ass and taking down names (love her or hate her).

images (84)  When you’re great, and what made you great still gives people in your field a run for their money…people like to challenge you with stepping out of your realm of greatness and your own formula about what made you “You” and great.

When they can’t compete with your greatness (outside of “popularity games”) they look to challenge you with the popularity games-the “norm” status quo like:

  • -how many FULL-LENGTH albums you can sell
  • -how many Grammy’s/BET/MTV/Awards/American Music Awards you got or are nominated for
  • -how many Twitter/Instagram/FB followers you got
  • -how many You Tube views you got etc.

…(all in comparison to theirs) JUST so they can stand back and see if they can knock you off your square (when you play into their popularity games).

images (83)  But when you’re great, they can’t hang. They can’t beat your greatness. They can’t even challenge it. Your greatness outlasts popularity. Unlike popularity, greatness it has no expiration date. Greatness has no “ridiculous quotient” to keep jumping up and down trying down to measure up to in order to remain popularity (that’s definitely going to meet its expiry date).

All that (those bullets listed above) have EVERYTHING to do with popularity and publicity: (Who got the vagina shot out this week? Who threw the titty out this week? Whose sex tape came out? Who said the most racially charged sh!t that got them some publicity today?) –all KINDS of sh!t that sends people who don’t THINK…mounting up [on people who play that game]’s popularity (keeping them temporarily popular).

None of that has to do with their craft, skill, talent, art or greatness.

When you play their game and get pressured into adhering to their challenges, when you’re great, you have to be smart.

You have to know that adhering to those “challenges” are only in hopes that you (in all your uniqueness and greatness) can fail at the “norm.”

Your formula gets diluted.

images (87) Concentration leaves you.

And you become [like] them: All the same ole “thems”-doing the same ole sh!t to stay “popular” (not GREAT)…but stay “popular.”

Adhering to their challenges (of an album or whatever is foreign to your formula of greatness that made you great) is only a challenge to be in the position to point the finger and be able to say (via popularity numbers)-you were “lackluster” at the “norm”—only in and effort to dispel your greatness (not because they truly give a fu(k about your talent and greatness or you), but to knock you off your square to come DOWN and play with THEM.

Don’t do it.

Doing a full-length album (or whatever is foreign to your formula of greatness that made you great) is just a “challenge” of the wolves waiting to laugh and point fingers.  

Sometimes, when you’re great and what made you great is working for you-you have to make a decision sometimes to tune out “those people,” and stick with the formula that works for YOU, the people who made you what you are, and those truly love you and what you do.

What would Angie do?

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I’d be THE SAME single-dropping, tour clocking, mouth poppin,’ show-rocking, images (88)“pu$$y poppin,’ ” Internet video-droppin ‘ biatch that I’ve been since I hit the gate.

And then when I feel like it…out of all my singles I would personally pick + allow my fans to pick the ones to make THAT-their choices-for my “full length album” …and may the best picks win. I’d thenrelease THAT (as an album).

You see, her grind (“as-is”) is her own formula, her genius, her uniqueness, her rare gem. And her formula is the backside of the norm /the UN-“like the every body else’s.”

It keeps her successful, unique, and away from the silly little pressures they are all fighting to maintain (which eventually pushes ‘em into oblivion anyways)…it breaks their spirit, and tampers with the CRAFT-their art: Their greatness.

Azealia Banks’ grind is unique to her persona, her style, and everything else about her. And when you’re REALLY that good, you don’t NEED a “date” (to album drop). Just keep doing what you do-how you do it. Because those who REALLY love you will be there (regardless) the hurry up [and wait].

The Moral of the Story?

Stay “like you” so you do have to be “like them.” It’s over-crowded down there (beneath your square)…

Because once you’re like them, you become concentrated on, and are doing more than your art–to maintain be “liked” (like them). And the next “big thing” or the next “new what’s happening” can come and knock you off your square (like what happens to them)…It’s guaranteed.

images (85) So in order (for the next new “what’s happening”) to get like YOU…in YOUR lane, they’ve got to get behind you-in your lane…And the fact of the matter is: They’ve got to grind (like you did…JUST LIKE YOU DID..YOUR FORMULA) in order to even BE there (in your lane).

And well..who can do that like you?

So when Azealia Banks says: “Azealia Banks’ album is the Internet’s favorite joke.”  As long as she keeps her formula, it maintains her uniqueness, her greatness. And the joke is actually on THEM.

 Most people that you no longer see, or hear from–it’s not because their talent isn’t any good anymore. It’s because the upkeep of popularity and bullsh!t overwhelmed their talent (AFTER THEY FELL INTO THE TRAPPINGS OF THE POPULARITY GAME). But one thing about talent + uniqueness: If you don’t fall into the popularity trappings, you’ll always be in style and wining. No one’s “popularity” can compete with your talent or your unique formula. NO ONE.

images (61) Pay attention. There’s a special kind of pace, and peace when it’s all you-all yours.

images (79)Let them do “them” while you keep doing “You.” Laugh back at “them” only if they laugh at you. Because at the beginning (and end of every single day) those JOKE is actually on them, not on you.


Source: Natalie Robehmed

Author: OSFMagWriter

Spitfire . Media Maestro . Writing Rhinoceros .