American rapper, actor, and provocateur extraordinaire Azealia Banks is a uniquely controversial figure.
A hugely talented writer and performer – her debut single 212 went viral online and jumped its way up the charts before Banks had even been signed to a label – she has nevertheless developed a reputation for wild online spats that’s made the ‘controversies’ section the beefiest part of her Wikipedia page.
Unflinchingly frank about the legacy of racism faced by Black Americans yet perfectly willing to throw racialised insults at other musicians, and often coming under fire for using homophobic slurs despite being open about her own bisexuality – Banks’ public persona is a mixed-bag of contradictions.
In honour of Banks being banned from Twitter again – this time for a homophobic video-rant aimed at queer musician Frank Ocean – we’ve rounded up Azealia Banks’ five most bizarre scandals.
Number 5: When she was publicly horny for President Obama
Look, we all have strange and inappropriate crushes from time to time.
But Banks’ remarks about then-POTUS – and married man – Barack Obama were strange to say the least.
Despite later clarifying that she’d thought her ‘joking’ comments were off the record, Banks did tell a Billboard reporter that she’d like to sleep with the president because of his particularly attractive “big-*ss white teeth” and large ears.
Billboard ran with it and Banks was left to defend her crush on Twitter.
Number 4: When she alienated literally all of her Australian fans
It takes a certain amount of bravery to respond to one’s rocky relationship with an entire country of music fans by doubling down on the insults, but that’s exactly what Azealia Banks chose to do in 2015.
After undercutting her own comments about the treatment of Indigenous people in Australia and racism in Australian hip-hop – with her notable beef with Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea and generalisations about the country as a whole – Banks was already on rocky ground.
Responding to a tweet poking fun at her tendency to bow out mid-set by calling Australian audiences “violent”, “belligerent”, and “terrible to play for” was probably not the best next move.
— Browny (@brownypaul) July 27, 2015
Tweeting “but I love my fans and will do anything to make them happy” shortly after unfortunately just came across as inauthentic.
Number 3: Calling Lilly Allen’s children ugly on Twitter
Continuing her trend of taking Twitter beef too far, this 2013 feud started with Banks – seemingly out of nowhere – alleging drug use on the part of the British singer and ended with her publicly calling Allen’s two children ugly.
Lilly Allen didn’t take the insults lying down and responded by calling Banks a “one hit wonder.”
At the time Banks had not yet released her studio album Broke with Expensive Taste.
And while insulting children is certainly a step too far, this particularly entertaining feud did give us Allen’s amusingly weak attempt at a rejoinder after Banks compared her husband Sam Cooper to “a thumb.”
Ps we all need thumbs
— LILY ALLEN 2.0 (@lilyallen) July 11, 2013
Number 2: Airing out Elon Musk’s business during a feud with Grimes
This one is so high on the list because it’s just so weird.
Between noted eccentric electronic artist Grimes, her boyfriend – the also-eccentric billionaire and owner of tech company Tesla – Elon Musk, and Ms. Banks herself, this one includes a stellar cast of characters.
In fact, one of the only reasons this feud is public is because a judge ordered Grimes and Banks to preserve their correspondence due to a separate-but-related lawsuit between Elon Musk – Grimes’ boyfriend – and Tesla investors.
It all started when Grimes failed to show up to a planned writing session with Banks at Musk’s house, allegedly leaving Banks there for a whole weekend with only Musk – and staff, probably – for company.
Banks responded by calling the experience “a real life episode of Get Out” and airing out Musk’s business practices, leading to a marked drop in Tesla shares and a text spat in which Banks called Grimes a “brittleboned methhead” and other such colourful insults.
Number 1: The time she was thrown in jail… for biting a woman’s boob?
Finally, we reach number one.
While the Banks vs Grimes and Musk fiasco is certainly weirder, this one takes out the top spot simply because it’s about the most creative way a celebrity has tried to physically fight someone in recent memory.
Azealia Banks was arrested in 2015 for physically and verbally assaulting a female bouncer after she was denied entry to a club for not having an entry stamp.
She spent a night in jail and was convicted of misdemeanour assault, but the charge was later reduced to disorderly conduct and she was ordered to undertake an anger management program.
Even with no shortage of famous people getting into physical scuffles on drunken nights out, something about this one sticks with you.
It’s probably the lingering thought of someone biting another woman’s breast in a fit of drunken rage while ranting that she is famous, actually, because she was going to be featured on Rihanna’s upcoming album Anti.
This track, for the record, never appeared on the album.
Image by Lucas Binns