31-year-old rapper Azealia Banks is no stranger to controversy. The singer, who rose to fame in the 2010s thanks to hits like ‘Luxury’ and TikTok indie sleaze favourite ‘212’, has found herself in the middle of some pretty scathing feuds since her debut all those years ago.
You could argue that the constant social media battles she finds herself in have almost become part of her brand as an artist. It’s not only individuals like Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga that Banks has beef with—she’s even found herself at arms with the nation of Sweden and the entire African diaspora. Yep, you read that right.
Banks has a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder, something that does help to contextualise some of her more impulsive tirades, and a mental health illness that’s also played a role in the highly divisive rhetoric of rapper Kanye West. That being said, one’s own illness only excuses your actions so far, and the lengths her social media altercations can go, often cross all reasonable boundaries.
Let’s unpack some of the most controversial events, infamous spats, and pettiest tantrums attached to one of our generation’s most highly complex artists, Miss Banks.
While some may have heard of Iggy Azalea for the 2014 Clueless-inspired bop ‘Fancy’, a lot of people will be familiar with the Australian-based rapper because of her run-in with Azealia. It all started when Banks accused Iggy of persistent cultural appropriation, to use a phrase coined by the artist, Iggy is a master in “culturally smudging.”
A surprisingly salient point from Banks in a TikTok from 2021 shows the ‘212’ singer criticising Iggy for calling herself a “runaway slave master” on her 2013 song ‘D.R.U.G.S.’.
Their feud further escalated thanks to Banks’ tendency to tweet first and ask questions later. In 2018, she ripped into the ‘Problem’ singer for stealing her name and then subsequently trolled her for losing a record deal. Furious tweets were launched from both sides, but it was clear that Banks had gotten under Iggy’s skin as the rapper turned to sound off with a resounding “shut the f*ck up!”
Let’s finish off this section with perhaps one of the most out-there and bizarre celebrity-beef tweets I’ve ever seen posted on a public platform. Only the infamous Fantasea artist could put out something so poetic and memorable.
Bank’s disagreements with Lady Gaga began when it was alleged that Gaga had stolen the track name ‘Red Flame’ from the rapper after she’d sent the ‘Just Dance’ singer a demo tape in 2013. The she-said/she-said spat led to one of the funniest Instagram posts in the history of the app.
When Gaga’s dogs were stolen back in 2021, the singer shared a post offering $500,000 for the safe return of her beloved pets. Banks sought to beat her reward—evidently in an attempt to get the upper hand in their battle—and posted that she would offer $750,000 for the dogs. “Bring me the dogs” closed out Banks’ story post. Cruel or hilarious? You decide.
Now, this particular saga began in August 2018, when Banks claimed to have been trapped inside Twitter fanatic Elon Musk’s mansion. Grimes had invited the artist over to collaborate, but when Banks arrived she was left almost entirely by herself while Grimes had to coddle the billionaire, who was freaking out after taking a psychedelic. What followed was a falling out between the two singers. Banks claimed she barely saw Musk and Grimes—Who Banks once said “smells like a roll of nickels”—for the three days she was “trapped” in the mansion.
The tweet in question was Musk sharing with the world that he planned to “take Tesla private at $420.” The highly juvenile reference to weed resulted in federal investigators opening an inquiry into Tesla for fraudulent conduct. This later led to the texts between Banks and Grimes being used as evidence in court. You’ve got to see the receipts on this one.
I think I find this one so hilarious because it allows us to picture the Tesla CEO having a meltdown on acid, but we can only imagine how strange an experience this was for Banks.
Okay, brace yourself, this one is really strange. In 2021, the self-proclaimed witch took to Instagram to show fans a video of her digging up her recently-deceased cat, and subsequently boiling its body for the bones. I warned you.
While many accused her of eating the poor animal, Banks tried to clear up the confusion, casually stating that the unearthing was simply part of a spiritual process, and that she planned to make jewellery from the animal’s bones. Some people have astrology, others, bone jewellery.
So, Iggy, Gaga, Musk—who’s next? Oh, just two entire nations. In a damning Instagram story post from 2019, Banks slammed Sweden for its socialist structure, bland food options, and inherent racism. One very kind Swede took to Quora to dispel some of what the artist was claiming.
Despite its progressive values, Sweden is far from a socialist state, and the claim that Swedes avoid her gaze simply because of her ethnicity may have been a result of Swedish people being famously reserved and non-confrontational. We can’t say for certain, but it’s certainly clear that she didn’t enjoy her time in the European country. Most likely just her venting, this feud was important enough to be listed on her since-trimmed ‘controversy’ section on Wikipedia.
In 2015, The Independent highlighted the reasons why the rapper has an issue with Australia. After playing one of her biggest shows at the famous Splendour in the Grass festival, radio DJ Paul Brown tweeted out a congratulatory message to Banks for completing a full show in Australia, allegedly in reference to her previously being booed off stage and having cans thrown at her.
Naturally, the singer fired back by saying she felt that Australian fans were “terrible” to play for and that the audiences attending her performance had been “violent and belligerent.” Banks finished her argument by stating she would not put herself in danger but that she would do anything for her fans. A slightly confusing sentiment but nothing new when it comes to Banks’ public outbursts.
While most of Banks’ controversies poke fun at the absurdity of celebrity beef, and act more in her favour than anything else, the singer’s comments on the queer community do not inspire the same feelings of light-hearted internet trolling that the rest of her antics do.
This rabbit hole first began in 2014 when the performer took to social media to drag PrEP, a drug that prevents the transmission of HIV. The pills are widely used in the LGBTQIA+ community and have acted as a life-saving measure as well as a preventative aid. In a rant that Banks later deleted, she discredited PrEP and claimed that it was promiscuous lifestyles—as well as other STIs—that were destroying communities.
Only one year later, Banks was highly criticised by the media for comparing the LGBTQIA+ community to the “white, gay KKK.” The shocking statements came after the rapper was seen hurling homophobic abuse at a flight attendant, which spiralled into—you guessed it—further social media rants and tirades.
Banks has since posted that she has bid “adieu” to the gay community, being unable to abide by their standards and attitudes. I can’t imagine they’re desperately missing her.
Although a lot of fans in the queer space have turned the other cheek in regard to these events—potentially in light of the strength of Banks’ music, and the nature of her mental illness—this next attack may have been the final straw for some.
In 2021, Banks claimed that she had remarried and that she was now Jewish. When it was pointed out to her on Twitter that that wasn’t exactly how it works, Banks chose to make a comparison between the journey that trans women face and her own ‘transition’ into the Judaic faith—arguing that the “mental gymnastics” were no different.
Be it impulsive tweeting or Instagram trolling, calling Banks controversial is putting it lightly. The uncancelable singer seems to evade concrete consequences regardless of what she does. And while her social media accounts may come and go, just know that no country is safe from the wrath of Azealia Banks.
As a publication that takes pride in the extensive research into the (sadly) numerous problematic individuals who have yet to be banished from their respective industries—more prominently, music and film—and held accountable for the predatory behaviour, we couldn’t go any longer without mentioning Chris Brown. If you thought that Drake and Machine Gun Kelly were gross, wait until you read all there is to know about the R&B singer-songwriter. We’re talking Jared Leto-level of repulsive here.
First things first, let’s give you a quick refresh on who Brown is and how he first gained popularity. Brown is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, graffiti artist and actor. To this day, and according to Billboard, he remains one of the most influential and successful R&B singers ever, with several putting him alongside the likes of Usher and R. Kelly—oopsie, would you look at that, another disgusting man. In terms of Brown’s musical style, many would agree that his approach to R&B includes several influences from other genres, mainly hip hop and pop music. And as expected when it comes to the rhythm and blues category, his lyrics often revolve predominantly around themes of sex, romance, ‘fast life’, desire, regret and emotional conflict. Cry us a river, Christopher.
Brown went from choir boy to getting signed with Jive Records in 2004, leading him to release his self-titled debut studio album the following year, which sold 154,000 copies in the first week and became certified triple platinum. As stated on his Wikipedia page, “With his first single ‘Run It!’ peaking atop the Billboard Hot 100, Brown became the first male artist since 1995 to have his debut single top the chart.”
His second album, Exclusive, reached an even bigger commercial success worldwide and from there, Brown’s popularity never diminished. All this to say that the artist, despite the long list of accusations he still faces today, has had his career and reputation remain intact all because critics once compared him to Michael Jackson—leading him to, much like Leto, gain a cult-like following from his fans.
Okay, this one’s probably the most obvious piece of evidence you’ve already heard of yet somehow managed to put aside? Don’t feel too guilty just yet though, it seems like mainstream society unanimously decided to do so. From 2007 to 2009, Brown dated singer and absolute icon Rihanna. Aged 19 at the time, the R&B prodigy’s public image had been pretty clean until the vicious fight between him and Riri made headlines.
As recounted by Rolling Stone, “the night before the  Grammy Awards, where the couple had been nominated for two awards each, the pair had left a pre-Grammy party [in Los Angeles] and got into a public altercation. Rihanna’s face and arms had been covered in visible contusions and bruises.”
Shortly after the incident, police sources told TMZ that when they arrived at the Hancock Park crime scene, they took photos of the singer’s injuries, which they called “horrific.” There were reportedly major contusions on both sides of Rihanna’s face, and her lip was split and nose was bloody. There was also “serious swelling and bruising,” as well as several bite marks on her arm and several fingers.
Brown was charged with battery following his former girlfriend’s hospitalisation. The photos taken of Rihanna after the assault—if you somehow haven’t seen them already—were described as “devastating proof of abuse.” TMZ also reported that Rihanna told the police her assailant did the damage solely with his fists and did not have any weapons. Grim.
On 22 June 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony and accepted a plea deal of five years of probation. He was also ordered to attend one year of domestic violence counselling and undergo six months of community service. The judge retained a five-year restraining order on Brown, which required him to remain 50 yards (45.72 metres) away from Rihanna, reduced to 10 yards at public events.
In September of that same year, Brown spoke about what had happened in a pre-recorded Larry King Live interview, his first public interview on the matter. He discussed growing up in a household with his mother being repeatedly assaulted by his stepfather and when asked about hearing details of his assault on Rihanna, said: “I’m in shock, because, first of all, that’s not who I am as a person and that’s not who I promise I want to be.”
That same year was the release of Brown’s third album, Graffiti, which was widely considered to be a commercial failure in comparison to his previous works. While performing a Michael Jackson tribute at the 2010 BET Awards, the R&B artist started to cry and fell to his knees while singing ‘Man in the Mirror’. The performance and his ‘emotional turmoil’ resonated with several celebrities present at the ceremony—it was as if crying on stage was enough performative guilt for the industry. “He left his heart on the stage. He gave genuine emotion. I was proud of him and I was happy for him for having that moment,” said Trey Songz.
Later during the award ceremony, Brown stated, “I let y’all down before, but I won’t do it again… I promise.” And guess what? He didn’t keep his loose promise… But not to worry, we’ll get into that very soon. This attitude was short-lived however, as only two years after being charged with battery, while doing an interview for Good Morning America and after being asked about the domestic abuse case, the singer reportedly stormed off the set. It was also alleged that he had broken a window in his dressing room. Feeling guilty much?
While still on probation for assaulting Rihanna, Brown risked spending time in prison after being accused of stealing a woman’s phone in February 2012. As reported by The Guardian at the time of the incident, the victim, Christal Spann, went to Miami Beach police complaining of an altercation with Brown outside a nightclub.
Spann claimed she snapped a photo of the celebrity as he came out of the club and climbed into a black Bentley. The R&B star then “reached through his car window and snatched her phone from her hands,” according to a police report. As the car pulled away, Brown allegedly sneered, “Bitch, you ain’t going to put that [photo] on no website.”
Though Brown ended up not getting charged, this incident was yet further proof of his erratic and downright violent behaviour. But things were far from over for him when it comes to club-related occurrences…
In June 2012, a scuffle broke out at around 4am between Drake’s entourage and Brown’s at a New York club called W.I.P. Several conflicting reports were released as to what caused the fight, including an alleged argument over Rihanna. Five people were injured in the melee, including NBA star Tony Parker, with Brown receiving a cut on the chin.
A spokesman for the NYPD also said that witnesses reported hearing gunshots inside the club during the scuffle, though no one seemed to have seen the weapon. Brown’s attorney alleged Drake was the instigator. The ‘With You’ singer himself even tweeted about the incident and publicly criticised the Toronto-born rapper just weeks later.
In January 2013, Los Angeles police responded to a call of six men fighting over a parking space at a recording studio, according to witnesses. Authorities did not name the man whom witnesses say Brown punched, but Frank Ocean ended up tweeting that it was him.
“Got jumped by Chris and a couple guys. lol. I only wish Everest was there,” Ocean wrote that night. “Cut my finger now I can’t play w[ith] two hands at the Grammys,” he continued. Everest is the singer-songwriter’s dog.
According to the sheriff’s department, and as previously reported on CNN, the fight ended after the men were separated, with Brown and his camp disappearing by the time deputies arrived. Although Ocean alleged that Brown had threatened to shoot him, he said he would not press charges.
Fellow artist Sean Kingston who was present at the scene alleged that Ocean and his cousin instigated the incident and were at fault. Brown later sued Ocean and his cousin for the incident and the matter was eventually settled out of court.
When it comes to this specific accusation, it’s important to note that the claims made by the alleged victim, Deanna Gines, were never confirmed to be true by the police and were, of course, denied by the singer’s legal team. Brown’s representative, Nicole Perna, told TMZ, “I’m unaware of the incident, as is Chris’ lawyer and his entire team. He was in a great mood after Powerhouse. None of this makes sense.”
Gines, who was 24 in June 2013, claimed that after seeing Brown perform at the club, she approached him and tried to kiss him—which is by no means okay—resulting in the artist violently pushing her to the ground. Gines further told TMZ that she went to the hospital where doctors told her she had torn ligaments in her right knee.
In September 2015, a woman made allegations that suggested Brown had assaulted her. According to reporting at the time, the woman pressed charges for reportedly being thrown off of the bus. The alleged assault took place outside a Gentlemen’s Club in Denver where Brown, French Montana and Fetty Wap were in the process of shooting a new music video.
The third-degree assault charges were filed when the woman refused to hand over her mobile phone on the production set in line with the shoot’s regulations.
Addressing the story on Twitter, the singer tweeted:
He followed his initial tweet with a second one that read, “Let’s shine the light on real fucking criminals. People looking for a come up. Hilarious!” Somehow, Brown avoided facing the music once more.
Not to make a joke out of Brown’s worrying behaviour, but we’re seeing a pattern here that mainly consists of violence against women and phone grabbing. Though the artist ended up not getting charged in the alleged assault due to lack of evidence, in January 2016, he was involved in an alleged assault that occurred following the singer’s concert in Las Vegas.
The day after his performance, the Las Vegas police department confirmed to The Associated Press that they were investigating Brown as a suspect in an alleged battery. While the police would not discuss any details of the ongoing investigation, TMZ—with permission from the alleged victim—reported that the incident involved a woman named Liziane Gutierrez.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Brown’s representative denied the allegations. “Making false accusations seems to be a pattern of behaviour for Ms. Gutierrez. Whatever her motives, her statements are unequivocally untrue,” the singer’s rep said. Heard this before?
According to Gutierrez’s version of the events however, as told to TMZ, Brown assaulted her after she snuck her cellphone into the singer’s suite and took a photo, angering him, and leading him to yell at her and punch her in the eye. Gutierrez claimed she then left the party and, a few hours later, called the police. She did not seek medical attention at a hospital.
In August 2012, Brown began working with Mike G—real name Michael Guirguis—who became his personal manager at a time when the singer’s career was not at its best. The suit, obtained by USA TODAY, stated, “no one else was interested in Brown—after his sickening and gruesome attack on then-girlfriend Rihanna and while Brown was on probation and in rehab (Brown was later asked to leave the rehab facility)—Mike G agreed to work as Brown’s personal manager.”
In June 2016, Mike G filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against his former client, claiming Brown “viciously attacked” him and that his injuries sent him to the hospital. “Days before Brown was set to leave for a much-anticipated and highly lucrative European tour, [he] turned his (drug-fueled) rage on Mike G,” the suit further stated. “What Mike G assumed would be a run-of-the-mill conversation about the upcoming tour turned into Brown shutting [him] alone into a room with him and brutally attacking him—punching him four times in the face and neck.”
The singer’s ex-manager sued Brown for assault, false imprisonment, intention to inflict emotional distress and breach of contract. At the time, the artist responded with an Instagram video from his tour in Europe in which he was heard saying: “Ok, you knew it was coming… Shit is getting mad and filing lawsuits because I fired them because they’re stealing money! You’re stealing money, pal. So. You’re mad because you’re no longer existent. It’s alright. I’m going to keep pushing. God bless you. Wish you the best of luck.”
In 2019, it was reported that Brown and Mike G had agreed to work out a deal between themselves instead of going to court as initially planned. However, following these accusations, the singer’s tour manager, Nancy Ghosh, also claimed that he had threatened a similar attack against her and cut ties with the performer.
According to Complex, Ghosh allegedly quit on the spot after a drug-fuelled outburst from Brown left her feeling unsafe back in May 2016. She claimed that the supposed ‘King of R&B’ cursed her out over the terms of her employment, which led her to jump off the tour bus and quit the job altogether.
Ghosh reportedly then emailed Brown’s entire team to explain what went down and claimed that she felt unsafe because the artist was “irrational and high on drugs.” She also claimed he referenced “what he did to Mike G” and threatened to do the same to her, which is why she decided it was in the best interest of her safety to get off the tour bus immediately.
In August 2016, Brown was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after a woman, Baylee Curran, told police he had threatened her with a gun. As reported by the BBC, Curran told the LA Times that Brown had pointed the gun at her face after she had been admiring his friend’s jewellery.
The woman also revealed that she had gone to the singer’s house with a friend, as well as a business associate, on Monday evening. She added that she had been admiring the diamond necklace of a man who had been showing off his jewellery when the man got angry and told her to back away. That’s when she claims the ‘Breezy’ artist pulled out a gun, pointed it at her face and told her to get out.
The next day, Brown was arrested with his lawyer later tweeting that his client had been freed, adding that the accusations were—you know the drill by now—“demonstrably false.” The R&B vocalist was released on $250,000 (£190,000) bail.
However, Brown later sued the accuser for defamation, winning the lawsuit after an investigation proved that the defendant brought to court false and defamatory statements about the singer, through her incriminating text messages where she said “don’t you know this freak Chris Brown is kicking me out of his house because I called his friend jewellery fake can you come get me my Uber is messing up if not I’m going to set him up and call the cops and say that he tried to shoot me and that will teach him a lesson I’m going to set his ass up.”
Though the accusation came out in January 2022, the alleged assault reportedly took place on a yacht on 30 December 2020 in Miami, Florida. Once again, he took to social media to respond to the serious claims, suggesting on his Instagram Story that he is only being sued because he’s releasing new music.
“I HOPE YALL SEE THIS PATTERN… whenever im releasing music or projects,” he wrote. The lawsuit has been filed by an unidentified professional dancer and musician who is named only as ‘Jane Doe’ in legal documents, according to the BBC.
The documents detail five separate accusations against the singer—sexual assault, violation of the Gender Violence Statute, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. Any of these sound familiar?
The victim claims she now “fears for her life and career” following an invitation to a yacht at a property owned by rapper and producer Diddy, where the alleged incident is said to have taken place. She went on to state in court documents that she was offered drinks by Brown after arriving, and later felt “a sudden, unexplained change in consciousness.”
She became “disoriented, physically unstable, and started to fall in and out of sleep,” before being led to a bedroom where Brown allegedly undressed and raped her. The singer is said to have contacted the woman the following day, telling her to take an emergency contraceptive. This certainly wasn’t the first time the Grammy winner has faced such an accusation.
In January 2019, the artist was released without charge in Paris, France after being questioned on suspicion of rape. The star and two other men had been arrested after a 24-year-old woman alleged she was assaulted in a hotel in the city earlier that month. After his release, Brown denied once more any wrongdoing on Instagram.
Even if it turns out true that a few of the many accusations listed just above were unfounded, the simple fact that the artist has such a long history of violence towards women is enough to justify just how urgent it is for the music industry to realise Brown must face repercussions for his actions.
Ever since his attack on Rihanna, Brown has been tied to a long list of alleged assaults and violent incidents. Not to mention his ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran was granted a restraining order against him citing physical violence during their relationship and menacing behaviour after their split, including threatening to kill her.
How does someone with multiple alleged violent assaults against both intimate partners and complete strangers continue to be widely celebrated by fans and other artists? Sure, the man benefits from expensive legal representation as well as a crisis management team and influential allies. But while celebrities are perfect targets for those who want to see the rich and famous punished for their crimes, too often, we’ve come to realise that specific personalities aren’t treated like the rest of the ones in the public eye.
As we start to witness a slow yet growing online movement calling for Leto’s predatory behaviour to be exposed, we hope the same light will finally be shed on Brown’s history of violence.