I downloaded Azealia Banks’ new mixtape Fantasea (you should too!) and I thought, hey I love it! But then I saw that one of the tracks was Zebra Katz’ song “Ima Read” and I was like, Oh no, I Love It. Because it’s an excuse to talk about “reading” and the Harlem ball culture of Paris is Burning all over again.
Azealia’s take on “Ima Read” is a lo-fi dis track, and it sounds exactly like Zebra’s version, starting with the opening lines, Ima take that bitch to college/Ima give that bitch some knowledge, down to the chorus, Ima read, Ima read, Ima read.
When you are all of the same thing, then you have to go to the fine point. In other words, if I’m a black queen, and you’re a black queen, we can’t call each other black queens, because that’s not a read, that’s just a fact.
Thus, in “Ima Read,” and really in her whole MC-slaying career, Miz Banks pays homage to all the Harlem black queens before her, male or shemale.
Editorializing time — Gay ball culture is so stirring because it’s hopeful. It’s about living the glamorous life we read about in fashion magazines, even if we’re the wrong race, sex or, most of all, class. And Azealia, whose full-length will be called Broke With Expensive Taste, probs knows about that.
She and her peers know about that even though she was born a year after Paris is Burning came out. As fashion designer Rick Owens put it to Zebra in a video interview, “What you’re doing is taking that culture and revitalizing that culture in a smart way.” Of course, it’s 2012, and queerness is a different animal nowadays. Frank Ocean has come out and it almost doesn’t really like, matter. I mean, it does, and shit is still fucked up. But still, the fact that 90s babies are trying to be reading people and are all inspired by the House of Labeija, I think Dorian Corey would be proud. Or maybe totally bored. And that’s progressss.
Zebra Katz’ “Ima Read” featuring Njena Foxx: