Before They Were Beefing, Azealia Banks And Lana Del Rey Were Actually Good Friends

Hip-Hop Editor

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It’s one of the oldest cliches in the book: Two young women who have been fast friends for years are suddenly, dramatically torn apart by a the arrival of a man. However, this time around, there’s are a few intriguing twists; the man in question is Kanye West, the women are Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks and the motivation for their beef isn’t love — at least, not either of their love for Kanye, but Kanye’s love for offensive hats, praising kooky conservative talking heads, and sending poorly-worded tweets about sensitive subjects. Their opposing responses were the catalyst for the dissolution of their surprising, long-time friendship.

Unsurprisingly, the relationship between the two women formed out of mutual business. In 2011, both released huge breakthrough singles (“212” for Banks, “Video Games” for Del Rey) which catapulted them into the spotlight and lucrative contracts at Interscope Records. They shared an A&R in Larry Jackson, who was then an executive vice president at the label and signed both for similar reasons. In a 2012 Banks profile in Spin, Jackson said Interscope “signed Banks for who she was, rather than for what they thought she could be.” A similar rationale propelled the signing of Del Rey, with Jackson quoting in a separate profile of the singer in Spin: “We sat for an hour and talked, without her playing any of her music. Just conversation, honing in on the philosophy of what she was doing, what she saw for herself — I was captured. It was a totally unorthodox meeting, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this.’”

Of course, from there, the two women’s respective careers spun off in wildly different directions. To date, Lana Del Rey has sold over 15 million albums worldwide, with two Billboard 200 no. 1 albums (2014’s Ultraviolence and 2017’s Lust For Life), and multiple Grammy nominations. The pair also collaborated exactly once, on an electro dance remix of Lana’s single “Blue Jeans.” Banks’ biggest achievement so far may have been the lasting career sabotage she executed on similarly-named rival rapper Iggy Azalea, whom she regularly dragged with accusations of cultural appropriation. Her one Interscope album, 2014’s Broke With Expensive Taste, peaked at No. 30 and disappointed Banks’ creative expectations, causing the eventual dissolution of her Interscope contract.

Since then, it’s been a non-stop bridge-burning tour, as she’s become more well known for picking Twitter fights than for releasing music, taking shots at Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Disney Channel star Skai Jackson, Erykah Badu, Remy Ma, RZA, MIA, Rihanna, and more — although she’s apparently since patched things up with Iggy Azalea, with whom she reportedly recorded a new song that has yet to be released.

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