Azealia Banks lands on the cover of Paper Mag's Summer 2012 Music Issue. In the interview, the 21-year-old rapper chats about a wide range of topics including the reason for writing '212', the music industry, celebrity and the word of wisdom she received from legendary Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine.

Azealia Banks lands on the cover of Paper Mag's Summer 2012 Music Issue. In the interview, the 21-year-old rapper chats with the magazine about a wide range of topics including the reason for writing '212'.
"Nobody was listening to my music," she recalls. "I had been dropped from [the English record label] XL. My manager dropped me. My boyfriend left me. I was starting to accept that my career was never gonna happen. So the song was just me, like, 'F**k y'all. Y'all not gonna help me? I'm gonna get it myself.'"

Banks grew up in New York City taking classes at LaGuardia Arts High School and performing in off-Broadway musicals. The rapper told Paper Mag that her generation was the one learning not just from doing musical theater but also from the internet. "My generation, that's just what we're into," she says. "When we got home from school, that's how we kept up with each other: AOL, Zynga, Angelfire, Napster, sh*t like that."
Banks told the magazine that her family got its first Internet connection when she was 9 or 10. "You'd be on there and you'd go to, like, sex.com!" She laughs. "You're mad obvious with it when you're a kid. You know how many times they probably sold sex.com? It's like the go-to URL."[Ed.'s Note: it is extremely NSFW!]

Azealia Banks Covers Paper Mag Summer 2012 Music Issue

Azealia Banks Covers Paper Mag Summer 2012 Music Issue Azealia Banks Covers Paper Mag Summer 2012 Music Issue

Banks wanted to become a recording artist so at 17 she switched from musicals to rapping. She even moved to L.A. in order to find a "relative calm" she wanted to take advantage of. "For me there's three options of where to live: L.A., London and New York," she says. "London's too expensive and New York's too exciting: too many parties, too many of my friends. If I wanna make this my life, I have to live somewhere I can work, somewhere I can focus. My album will not come out in September if I live in New York."

Speaking about the music industry, the young rapper says it "is like a machine". "It's always going, and this new generation of artists - me, A$AP Rocky, Rita Ora - we're the fuel that's keeping it going. And once you get in that machine you've gotta run with it. There's a crazy inertia that's been going for years and years and years, and it's not gonna stop for you, so you've gotta keep f*****g working. The minute you stop working, that's when you get stuck in the gears. And that's when it grinds you up and spits you out," Banks explains.
"That's what you give up when you sign that contract," Azealia replies. "This hustle and bustle becomes your normal-person sh*t."

On being famous, Banks says that, "When celebrities have kids, their children are famous. People want pictures of your children. People wanna see you eating at the restaurant, putting gas in your car. But they only wanna know about your life because you created something they can relate to."

She reveals the word of wisdom she received from legendary Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine. "Jimmy tells you to keep the wind behind you," Banks says. "The music is what's important. These people are not gonna wanna talk to you if you don't have music; they're not gonna be interested. And your star is not always gonna be as bright. So you really have to seize the day."

Azealia Banks Covers Paper Mag Summer 2012 Music Issue

Azealia Banks Covers Paper Mag Summer 2012 Music Issue

Azealia Banks Covers Paper Mag Summer 2012 Music Issue

Photos courtesy of PAPER MAG