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Azealia Banks's “212”: Black Female Identity and the White Gaze in Contemporary Hip-Hop



Azealia Banks's 2011 hit single “212” established her as one of hip-hop's rising stars, with critics highlighting the song's provocative lyrics and Banks's ability as an MC as standout qualities. Banks would later receive attention for her public dispute with white rapper Iggy Azalea, whom she accused of exploiting black musical culture. This article integrates an analysis of “212” with a discussion of Banks's recent public rhetoric in order to examine the ways in which Banks rearticulates the figure of the black female rapper and criticizes white fascination with black female sexuality and black cultural forms. I conclude by situating this discussion within the broader context of contemporary “post-racial” politics, in which the political elements of hip-hop and the systemic racial inequalities they address have become increasingly marginalized in favor of “color-blind” conceptions of United States society and popular culture.

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