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.