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On Kanye West, Azealia Banks, and Feeding Trolls Versus Reporting News

On Kanye West, Azealia Banks, and Feeding Trolls Versus Reporting News

azealia-banks-bike On a similar note, one of the more controversial artists of our recent times is unquestionably staunch Harlemite Azealia Banks. To many, she is the definition of a troll—someone who remains as inflammatory as humanly possible without ever breaking character. She is also the type of music personality who gets more attention and coverage for her opinionated ways as opposed to her actual music. There’s a good reason for that, of course, as her songs, mixtapes, EPs, and videos cannot match the pageviews of her Twitter rants. If you run a website that covers Banks, go ahead and look at your analytics: the clicks you received for her recent (surprisingly good) cover of the Strokes’ “Barely Legal” pale in comparison to anything disorderly string of tweets she sent out one afternoon.

Banks’ troll-esque ways have been front and center these past few months as she struggled to maintain a release date for her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, and remained in the public eye for all the wrong reasons. We remained on the other side of the fence in terms of covering her until a breaking point was reached in February. This was when she dropped her remix of Baauer’s increasingly popular “Harlem Shake” single, which he and his label (Mad Decent) had promptly removed from Soundcloud.

As expected, this led to a series of angry tweets from Banks, many of which were homophobic, ridiculously insulting, and, as a fan of both Banks and Baauer, infuriating. Here was someone we covered regularly for her music (and beef with Angel Haze) throwing herself into the depths of idiocy. It got to the point where I seriously considered all of it to be a cheap publicity stunt to keep her in the spotlight amid album delays. Also, you’re kidding yourself if you think she dropped her “Harlem Shake” remix for any reason other than capitalizing on its viral hit status.

But is the coverage of her ranting necessary? Absolutely. As I mentioned, she was getting into it with someone else we post on a regular basis and she was throwing slurs around while trying to explain why we’re all wrong in opposing that. Rather than post our own take-down column of her actions, fellow Potholesian Mallory Pickard gathered relevant tweets exposing the errs of Banks’ comments. Like clockwork, some of our readers were quick to note that they were tired of us covering the situation and that we were “feeding a troll.” Duly noted, y’all, but if you read the tweets that we highlighted, it would have been clear that we aimed to spark a conversation about Banks, her career, and what she was saying. It was also a follow-up story about everything that went down with another producer, Munchi, months earlier.

So, where do we draw the line? Should we write about each and every rant, sideways tweet, and Facebook diatribe in existence? Of course not. If there is a clear and present topic related to you coverage zone, then go for it. But where we all start to fall into a pit of traffic-fueled despair is when we rush to get the FIRSTIES!!! gold star. Granted, no website is innocent of this, but when your gossip coverage outweighs your contribution to the culture at large, you’re failing no matter how many hits and advertising dollars you receive.

Some will argue that a site is simply reacting to what they believe their readers want—true journalists are supposed to mirror society, so if this is society, then what else are we supposed to do? That doesn’t mean, however, that the focus should be on hate/angst-fueled clicks. There needs to be a balance, though that’s admittedly nearly impossible to achieve given the nearly infinite amount of music sites/blogs. With that in mind, it’s up to everyone from the biggest to the smallest blogs/sites to bear some semblance of responsibility. Too often, the jump is made from attempting to be a taste-maker to attempting to be a catch-all, posting about everything in your Internet cross-hairs.

I know what I’m about to type is a Utopian concept, but damn: exercise your judgment, y’all, and try to start a debate or a conversation through intelligent means. It’s OK to talk your sh*t every so often and let your hair down, so to speak, but don’t let it cloud why you might have gotten into all of this in the first place.

RELATED: On RiFF RAFF, Krispy Kreme and If Trolling Is a Viable Career Option

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11 Comments

  1. Atiba Taylor
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 18:20:00

    the absurdity of the community is that the comments and rants of the kingpins at the top often influence the thinking of those at the bottom Zach, good or bad, like its if you can’t be them or be like them them get with them. on point bro

  2. Atiba Taylor
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 18:17:00

    the funny thing is the audience , many of us the readers, live and thrive off what the Gods of the music industry are saying, in a world economy where your freedom is not a state of mind but how much money you earn or how much you can command at the gate. An incredible talent to create hits, or remix, or rap does not equate to a grand insight on the daily reality of billions of people just trying to get by and find interesting music to listen to.

  3. William Minty
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 15:01:00

    Well put. I browse this site religiously making sure to tick off each article from my RSS feed. I might fall into the category of people that see some of this as gossip, but if I feel like indulging it, then I check it out. If I don’t, I leave it.

    I dont usually comment, though I drop the lazy like on a few in the comment section. Thats for two reasons. 1) I’ve become accustomed to not voicing an opinion due to seeing war waged in the YouTube nature of generic thoughtless and classic hater-like comments. And 2) because you guys aren’t slipping in the slightest.

    I barely stray from here to get my music fix. You guys do a fantastic job, keep it up.

  4. Andrew Martin
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 14:23:00

    perfect

  5. Andrew Martin
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 14:23:00

    thanks!

  6. Andrew Martin
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 14:23:00

    thank you!

  7. Andrew Martin
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 14:23:00

    Thanks man.

  8. Zach Moldof
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 14:08:00

    well said Andrew. i think, for whatever reason, the internet generation does not abide by “if I don’t like it I will not pay attention to it.” Folks have this much more childish and petty demeanor of, “if you didn’t want me to react negatively you shouldn’t have put it on the internet.” Internet comments provide an oddly democratized playing field where people give in to just about any impulse without thought or censorship be it racist, idiotic, self-obsessed, sexist, just plain hateful or otherwise.

    As far as the validity of these rants and outbursts, they carry an additional importance as well. These are, for better or for worse, some of the most visible characters within the society of young contemporary American musicians and music-involved individuals. Whether we like it or not, all of us identify with Azealia and Kanye at some level. These are 2 figures whom very many people identify with as musicians, or music-involved individuals. Coverage like this is in many ways the basis of a community.

  9. St8us
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 12:55:00

    thumbs up

  10. GUMSHIP
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 11:24:00

    jyeah (c) mc eiht

  11. Ix AP xI
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 10:34:00

    Well said. If people don’t want to read posts about Banks beef or Kanye’s ridiculousness, there’s plenty of other links to good music/news on the homepage that they can choose from.

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