Azealia Banks has sparked some strong reactions and a wave of discourse about Austraila’s musical exports, after sharing an essay length post to her Instagram Stories in which she called Australia “one of the most culturally stale white nations on the planet.”
In the stories, the New York rapper said Australia’s creative output “isn’t exactly heralded by the heads of government or anyone in the world as a coveted cultural export”. She continued: “I don’t think they realize how unimportant they are as far as music culture goes because they’re deluded with the idea that their whiteness makes Australia an A market, when it’s truly a C-D market.”
Banks: Australia Has an “Extreme Dearth of Internationally Appetizing Talent”
Banks went on to say that Australia has an “extreme dearth of internationally appetizing talent”, with the exception of Kylie Minogue, INXS and AC/DC. Tame Impala is “just cheesy” to her, Wolfmother are apparently “excellent – but clearly an American rock tribute band.”
“Australia doesn’t really have many music acts that anyone truly cares about on a global scale because they’re in a vacuum of off-brand British culture,” she continued. “Could be to do with it being geographically so out of the way and how aggressive, barbaric, oppressive and violent they have been in regards to the very existence of native Black peoples that they’ve actually systematically stomped out their country’s own ability to develop its own music/arts culture.”
Banks accused Australia of looking to England and the US for “ideas to regurgitate”, and creating “one of the most culturally stale white nations on the planet.” She went on: “The fact that these Aussie music execs are completely overlooking the correlation between the government’s purposeful ethnic cleansing of native peoples and their inability to produce music anyone anywhere cares about is fucking comedy.
“Someone has got to tell the Australian music industry that absolutely no one on earth takes it seriously. Like, they have to understand how untalented/uncultured and unneeded they are to the greater global arts community, realize musical talent is just not in the gene pool, and redirect those funds to the Aboriginal peoples of the continent and just pack their shit up and go back to Europe. Y’all stomped all the blackness out of Australia – which is why your music expoets suck, and we don’t feel bad for you.”
Multiple Australian artists have since reacted to Banks’ comments. “AB is throwing out straight BARS rn and anyone that’s moody about it probably has a vested interest in the music climate staying bland,” tweeted Kira Puru, while Lonelyspeck called Banks “the natural balancing force for an industry where real critique is frowned upon.”
“Azealia banks needs to hear genesis owusu,” tweeted producer Ninajirachi. Ben Lee, now based in the States, said Banks was “spot on about the insidious nature of Australia’s mistreatment of its Indigenous people” but was simultaneously “emobdying the values of American cultural imperialism” in her post.
Banks’ comments about Australia don’t come without some personal prejudice. Last year, the singer vowed never to return to the country after a chaotic tour that included visa issues, a cancelled Brisbane show, the Melbourne date being rescheduled, and Banks accusing the tour’s promoters of running a “scam”.
“This place makes me utterly miserable and I’m too Black and beautiful to have a bunch of white people in my face playing with me over their WEAK ASS CURRENCY,” Banks said at one point during the tour. She accused the promoters of having “slave-like” structures in their contracts, and arguing she was “not just a charity for fuckin Australia.”
Promoters Point Productions and Bizarro both released their own statements refuting Banks’ claims. Point Productions called Banks’ allegations against them “untrue”. They added: “We can confidently say that we did everything possible to meet Ms Banks’ expectations, and to create an accommodating and safe experience for her, her fans and everyone involved at the shows and on tour.”
Bizarro issued a lengthier statement laying the blame on Banks, saying they put in “hours of desperate work” to make the shows go ahead with an artist who was seemingly doing her best to sabotage them. They cited Banks’ “willingness to burn down every show of the run”, her “lack of care and appreciation for her fans”, and refuted claims that she had not been adequately paid.