If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d make her explain every Instagram caption or tweet to me in detail before she posted it – not because I think every one of her comments should be accessible to me, I’d explain, but because the time delay and effort it takes to explain your comment to someone outside the situation makes you really confront whether it’s actually a good post or not. “Trust me, I know how good it feels to get instant validation and stakes-free confrontation from your Internet ramblings,” I’d say. “I had a Tumblr for a while. It’s addictive.” She’d give me an evil stare and I’d see her composing a fresh rant about me in her head, but she’d agree eventually, and it would start really showing in her ratio of Twitter beef to actual records.
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d tell her that she needs to decide whether she actually means what she says when she posts something political or if it’s just for the lols; she can’t have it both ways. I’d tell her that I’d really prefer it if she went with the former, but that she also needs to think about how her disparate opinions fit together into a coherent philosophy before she posts anything else about immigration or Lizzo’s body type.
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d urge her to pick an org to support to show that her anger was being funneled into something productive. “Why don’t you talk to Princess Nokia?” I’d offer. “I heard she’s doing some really cool things with urban feminism, and I have an in with her management.” Azealia would think this is a great idea and she’d immediately take a liking to Destiny, whose records she’d check out and privately think are great, although she’d loudly denounce them in public to everyone including Destiny herself as “weird Soundcloud shit”.
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d sit her down after yet another public beef with Lil’ Kim and tell her she has a tenuous sense of her own worth. “What are you talking about?” she’d splutter, launching into a spiel about how she’s the baddest bitch in rap right now or in fact ever, and I’d cut her off with: “I know you know it, but you don’t feel it, do you?” I’d tell her that I wished she could see that she’s too talented and intelligent to have to constantly play defensive offense about it, and that there’s no need to pre-emptively flip out on people before they turn on her because there’s no real reason they’d want to turn on her in the first place. She wouldn’t listen to me, and our relationship would chill for a month or so, but she’d drunk-call me, sobbing, and tell me how much it meant to her that I thought that on the night that I thought I might finally be fired; she’d pointedly never bring it up again, but the call would return our professional relationship to semi-normal.
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d make sure she knew every step of the way how much I believed in her and her music. “You know I wouldn’t be working with you if you weren’t you,” I’d say. “Can you imagine me trying to stunt for Cardi B or something?” She’d cackle hysterically and I’d feel guilty because I secretly work out to “I Like It”, even though it can’t technically compare to even the crappiest track Azealia’s put out, but the white lie is worth it to see Azealia’s smile and know it’s just for me.
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d start a hard conversation about trans people. I’d stress that the controversies surrounding her relationship to the LGBT community are in no way equal – there’s a big difference between a straight chick calling people faggots and a bisexual woman doing so, even though it’s still kind of rude – but that it really is incredibly important that she never, ever make fun of trans people because they are the one group that she actually has the power to hurt. “I know you don’t want to actually hurt anyone,” I’d say. “That’s why this is so big for me. You’re a good person, and I don’t want you to do bad things.” She wouldn’t believe me at first, and she’d try to bluster and defend herself, but I’d give her some readings on Marsha P. and Sylvia Rivera and she’d immediately develop a deep and abiding protective love for trans women of color that couldn’t be shaken by any opinion she’d previously held. This would inevitably get her into some trouble with both actual trans people and the press, but I’d make sure she kept reading and get her publicly linked with Indya Moore, and she’d keep stumbling through. I’d hold off the revelation that I myself am non-binary until a little later in the game.
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, there’d be a tension in our professional relationship that neither of us would ever acknowledge or name. Twice, drunkenly, Azealia would tell me she loves me; once, we’d come close to kissing. I’d always gently fob her off and suggest that she date girls with whom she didn’t have an extant employer/client relationship. I’d shove my feelings for her way down deep and tell myself it’s for the best that we don’t date.
(If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d be hot and sexually compelling enough for Azealia Banks to be romantically interested in me, natch.)
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d realize after a year or so that she doesn’t really need me anymore. She’s regularly going to therapy, she’s cleaned up her image, and she’s about to go on tour with her new album – I need to stay in New York, nearer to my childhood home; I have friends and family and a life outside Azealia that the whirlwind of the past few months has sort of made me forget. I’d clear out my desk, start making inquiries for new jobs, maybe really get cracking on that personal writing project I’ve been meaning to polish and shop around. Azealia would thank me cordially and, after a pause, give me an awkward but emotional hug. I’d choke down tears and try my best to return to my old life.
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, not a day would go by at my new copyediting job that I wouldn’t think of her. I’d find myself search-and-replacing “you’re” not with “your” but with her name. I’d realize that no relationship I’ve ever had with anyone has ever been as meaningful, as unfiltered and genuinely constructive on both sides. I’d recall her telling me that if I didn’t stop shitting on myself I was fired, because she couldn’t have anyone talking about her PR lady like that; I’d remember the time she came up with a plan to ruin all my enemies’ lives, starting with contaminating their shampoo and ending with something incredibly nasty involving the morning-after pill. I’d remember her wit and wicked sense of humor, her legendary flow and her genuine depths of emotion. I’d wish I could reach out to her, but she’s in fucking LA now and why in the hell would she want to hear from an old employee? I’ve heard she’s dating Tayla Parx now anyway, or maybe it’s Margot Robbie —
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d get a call that jolted me out of my thoughts. “Hello –” I’d begin, and it would be Azealia, and she would be hesitant, and delicate, and nothing like the Azealia Banks I’ve grown to know and love, and so I’d immediately assume the worst and book a flight to LAX. I’d ask her, breathlessly, what she needed from me. She’d start to say something a few times, and finally say: “You. Just — you.”
If Azealia Banks were my PR client, I’d smile and say, “Me, too.”