Music

Azealia Banks Takes Aim at Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Album Cover & Title

The cover art for Beyoncé‘s upcoming album Cowboy Carter has stirred up some interesting discussions, most recently and notably from Harlem rapper Azealia Banks. The opinionated MC took to Instagram Stories on Tuesday to give us all a little lesson in cultural criticism.

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First, Banks takes aim at the album’s title, writing, “Wow we didn’t even try to put even a little effort into a more artistic title?” Now, to be fair, we don’t know what Beyonce’s thinking is as it pertains to the title. Some fans believe it’s a play on words. Obviously, Carter is her last name through marriage to rapper/businessman Sean Carter, aka Jay-Z, but it’s also the last name of the family widely seen as the first family of country music. It could be anything or nothing at all. The only person who knows is Cowboy Carter herself.

@beysus.christ

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♬ original sound – Little Debbie

Banks then takes issue with the cover’s overall aesthetic, asking, “how u switch from baobab trees and black parade to this literal pick me stuff,” referring to the Grammy Award-winning single from The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack Beyoncé executive produced back in 2019. It seems all the Americana imagery is too on the nose for Banks and misses the mark, as she accuses Beyonce of being in “white woman cosplay” and “reinforcing the false rhetoric that country music is a post civil war white art form. And subsequently reinforcing the idea that there is no racism, segregation, slavery, violence, theft, massacres, plagues, manifest destiny craziness that form the bedrock of epithets like ‘proud to be an American,’ or ‘god bless the usa.’”

As if that weren’t enough, Banks also brought up the 2016 CMA Awards performance Beyoncé did with The Chicks (then called The Dixie Chicks), writing, “u do lame stuff like bring out some black listed white women (Dixie Chicks) at the country music awards and they would never ever do the same for you.”

It’s all…a lot. You can check out all of what she wrote below. But it’s interesting to see Banks read so much into the album title and cover when Beyoncé herself took to Instagram on Tuesday to explain to fans why she decided to make Cowboy Carter.

Beyoncé didn’t mention the 2016 CMA Awards specifically, but she did write that the album “was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed.” And while Banks believes Beyoncé is unaware of the genre’s history, Bey explained that after the experience of not feeling welcomed she did “a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive.” Similar to 2022’s Renaissance, on which she worked to reclaim Dance music, many feel she will be doing the same with country on this project. But hey, like she said in her IG post, “This ain’t a Country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album.”

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