The thing to giggle about on the Internet today is a brand-new Twitter feud between two people who, at first glance, have a lot in common: Kreayshawn and Azealia Banks. Both owe their fame to a single song that’s blown up on YouTube, and neither has put out a full-length album yet. And, of course, they’re both women who have found some early success in a hip-hop world so male-dominated that The New York Times can publish an article that equates black masculinity with genre authenticity and likens white female rappers to “a cat walking on its hind legs” without anyone batting a false eyelash.
Anyway, the details of this fight are pretty inconsequential: It all started when the XXX site Pornhub’s Twitter feed took a break from promoting “MILFY” videos and asking followers about the grossest food they’ve used in “sex play” to endorse Banks’ hit “212” (and, in particular, an especially explicit lyric). Kreayshawn retweeted the link, and Banks took offense, writing: “@KREAYSHAWN You’re a dumb bitch. And you can’t rap. I’ll sit on your face. … Fall back slut.” Apparently, Kreayshawn didn’t mean to offend Banks, replying, “I’ve been listening to your music all month” and lamenting that she “got smashed on twitter because I was supporting another female.” Both sides eventually cooled off, but we’re left with the impression that, while Kreayshawn has lots of respect for Banks, the esteem isn’t mutual.
From an artistic standpoint, that’s perfectly fine. We’re much more excited about what we’ve heard from Banks so far than what we’ve heard from Kreayshawn, too. What’s actually troubling about the exchange is the way it perpetuates a long, depressing history of female rivalries in hip-hop. While Jay-Z and Kanye West, both at the top of their game, are making album-length tributes to their bromance, we can’t think of two famous women rappers who have ever actually gotten along, much less collaborated. In fact, the only commercially successful lady rapper of the past few years, Nicki Minaj, has spent her entire career trading barbs with Lil’ Kim, who claims Minaj stole her schtick. Back when Kim was relevant, in the mid-’90s, she had a different rival: Foxy Brown.
The point here isn’t that Azealia Banks has to love Kreayshawn or that Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim should set aside their differences to make the girlie version of Watch the Throne; it’s that, in 2012, it’s freaking depressing that women in hip-hop continue to interact as though they’re locked in a death match to become the only pair of X chromosomes in the game. But in a culture that still sees female rappers as a novelty, who can even blame them for maintaining the kind of siege mentality that will only end up harming everyone?