On Valentine's Day, contentious Harlem rapper Azealia Banks once again found herself in the middle of a Twitter battle, this time due to a remix of trap producer Baauer's "Harlem Shake."
Over the last two weeks, Baauer's 2012 single has encouraged office video interpretations at the rate of 4,000 fan uploads a day, racking up well over 44 million total YouTube views, and inspiring Azealia to release a downloadable freestyle over his beat.
The 23-year-old Brooklyn producer was less than enthusiastic about the unsolicited remix, which she posted yesterday, and had the freestyle removed from Azealia's SoundCloud, resulting in a Twitter tirade from the confrontational MC.
"@baauer why you cockblockin tho? Lmaoo," Azealia wrote (and deleted).
"@AZEALIABANKS because it's not your song lol," the producer, who is signed to Diplo's Mad Decent label, tweeted back.
In typical fashion, Azealia responded by revoking Baauer's rap card, writing "you're a pussy. You don't belong in hip hop ... you don't even know what a fucking Harlem Shake even is."
Unfortunately, Azealia, who recently traded jabs with Perez Hilton over her insistent use of the word "faggot," regained Hilton's attention when she began responding to Baauer supporters with the diplomatic instruction that they "drown in faggotry."
We'll spare you the details, but that exchange resulted in Azealia referring to the celebrity blogger as an "evil faggot," and tastefully inquiring "What does my pussy taste like perez?"
Meanwhile, Baauer went back to enjoying his astonishing recent success, selling out shows and watching his single suddenly inspire "Gangnam Style" comparisons, almost a year after its May, 2012 release.
Azealia's various beefs aside, Baauer's removal of her song brings up an interesting question: Given trap music's emergent popularity as a largely instrumental EDM sub-genre with roots in Southern rap, why is "Harlem Shake" off limits to a Harlem MC?
"If you don't want me to rap on ur shit then don't put it out n---- ... For real. Shit ain't safe. I'll piss on ur lawn," Azealia tweeted at Baauer, in response to her freestyle's removal from SoundCloud.
Hip-hop was created by DJs repeating sections of a disco or funk song while an MC rhymed over the beat. However, very few rappers, Ghostface aside, rap over entire tracks. Is that where the distinction lies?
Azealia has built a rep rapping over bass-inspired production by Jacques Greene and Machinedrum, introducing their music to a new audience, while scoring acclaim for her production choices within the electronic music community.
To further complicate matters, Baauer's trap anthem refers to a repeated phrase in the song instructing listeners to do '90's hip-hop dance move "the Harlem Shake," but his version itself contains an (at the time) unlicensed sample of early 2000's rap Philly rap crew Plastic Little's "Miller Time."
Former Plastic Little rapper Jayson Musson called attention to this fact in an instagram post, revealing his exchange with Baauer, who happily admitted that he had "cut up those little vocal bits, just for fun, and used them in a track, having absolutely no idea Harlem Shake would do what it did!"
Essentially, Azealia Banks has been barred from rapping over a song containing an unlicensed sample, "because it's not your song lol."
If rap followed that rationale, some of our favorite mixtape rappers might never have "risen" through the Roc-a-Fella, Dipset or MMG ranks. Is trap really so removed from hip-hop that a buzz-rapper is forbidden from tossing out an unofficial freestyle?
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