Whether you love her or hate her, Azealia Banks‘ no-holds-barred interview for Playboy Magazine may be one of the most interesting you’ll ever read.
The polarizing and outspoken Harlem rapper, who released her brilliant debut Broke With Expensive Taste last fall, covers the magazine’s “Music Issue.”
Lensed by famed photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, the 23-year-old takes on a mischievous black kitty persona while posing in leopard print or nude with both real and fake black cats.
For her cover story titled “Hip-hop’s Fierce Queen Is Ready To Roar,” she speaks on a myriad of topics including creative freedom, race and sex.
Check out a few of the non-nude shots, behind-the scenes video and snippets from the interview below. The issue hits newsstands on Friday, March 20th.
On being free from label control:
“Even though I’ve always made really cool stuff, I did it with a little bit of a pop sensibility because I was signed to a major label. That’s why you have songs like ‘ATM Jam’ and ‘Chasing Time’ that are more pop. But now I don’t have a label to answer to. All the ideas I’m having are fucking cool and abstract and crazy and dope.”
On why she’s always discussing race:
“Because y’all motherfuckers still owe me reparations! [laughs] That’s why it’s still about race. Really, the generational effects of Jim Crow and poverty linger on. As long as I have my money, I’m getting the fuck out of here and I’m gonna leave y’all to your own devices.”
“I get annoyed with the fact that I’m even asked to explain myself. Why do I have to explain this to y’all? My little white fans will be like, ‘Why do you want reparations for work you didn’t do?’ Well, you got handed down your grandfather’s estate and you got to keep your grandmother’s diamonds and pearls and shit.”
On whose career she’d like to emulate and “New Blacks“:
“Jay Z. That’s the only person I have my eye set on. The race thing always comes up, but I want to get there being very black and proud and boisterous about it. You get what I mean? A lot of times when you’re a black woman and you’re proud, that’s why people don’t like you. In American society, the game is to be a nonthreatening black person. That’s why you have Pharrell or Kendrick Lamar saying, ‘How can we expect people to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves?’ He’s playing that nonthreatening black man shit, and that gets all the white soccer moms going, “We love him.” Even Kanye West plays a little bit of that game—’Please accept me, white world.’ Jay Z hasn’t played any of those games, and that’s what I like.”
On wanting to leave the U.S.:
“I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms. Those little teenage girls who work at Kmart and have a racist grandma—that’s really America.”
On other reasons she’s disliked:
“There’s misogyny, and then there’s something called misogynoir [a term coined by writer Moya Bailey to describe ‘the unique ways in which black women are pathologized in popular culture’]. We have all these stereotypes in society: The gay man is a faggot and he’s over-the-top, or you’re an untrustworthy cracker, or you’re a loud black bitch. All these things exist for a reason, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, I am loud and boisterous.”
“And I am black, and I am a pain in your ass. But I’m not really talking to you, and that’s what makes those people mad. You’re not invited to this conversation. This is not about you.”
On how her rants are seen as angry in comparison to Lorde’s:
“It’s always about race. Lorde can run her mouth and talk shit about all these other bitches, but y’all aren’t saying she’s angry. If I have something to say, I get pushed into the corner.”
On how her “black female problems” ruin dates:
“I should be getting dick all the time. I like to fuck. [laughs] But I can’t just meet a guy and fuck him. I’m too afraid of getting herpes or some shit. I like to feel them out, and then I start talking about my black female problems, and we get into a conversation about race, and then we disagree and don’t have another date. Whatever. I’ll just hang out with my mother. It’s okay, because pussy is way more sacred than penis.”