Ben Lee Weighs In On Azealia Banks VS Australia

15 May 2023 | 1:08 pm | Jessie Lynch

"We can't only value culture if America values it."

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Aussie muso Ben Lee has spoken out following Azealia Banks' scathing comments about Australian music, during which she claimed the country is "one of the most culturally stale white nations on the planet".

Speaking on his podcast, Weirder Together, which Lee hosts with his wife Ione Skye, the Catch My Disease singer was asked about his thoughts on Banks' comments.

"Oh, man. Yes. So for those who don't know, Azealia Banks has been in an ongoing feud with Australia since she got, I guess underpaid by some dodgy club promoters," Lee began.

"And she cut loose on Instagram with a provocative statement is always provocative with Azealia Banks. I've got some excerpts from it. She called Australia 'the most culturally stale white nation on the planet'."

He continued, "She said the music that comes from Australia is unimportant. And then she interestingly said Australians missed the correlation between the government's purposeful ethnic cleansing of native people and their inability to produce music anyone cares about."

"Now I gotta say with everything. Azalia bank says there is truth in it. She's perceptive, look, the basics of this statement are true. Anywhere that mistreats their Indigenous people will have a more stale culture and Australia it's was a very homogenised white culture. But it's not just music and art that's affected. Like I believe that when you silence the indigenous voice in a country, it goes hand in hand with unchecked capitalism, destroying the climate, misogyny, and all kinds of other offences. 

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"So basically, what she's saying is pretty much true, but I think she's also displaying American cultural imperialism, where she's only judging cultural value based through the lens of American eyes. And I think American-centric thinking - so many American artists guilty of that, unless you are actively lauded by the culture here and contributing to the GDP, what you're doing has no value."

 "And I think that's pretty f**ked up, because art doesn't only exist or have value when it's valued by America. I think art can exist in tiny micro subcultures and in community centres and in smaller, more fragile ways that this type of thinking doesn't at all value."

"We can't only value culture if America values it."

He did admit that despite his stance, he was a "total hypocrite" because he "didn't stay in Australia building cultural micro-communities".

"But as I've grown and matured, I've realised that that's not the only way of looking at art."

"So basically, I just wanted to say, as always, with Azalea Banks, thank you and f**k you for making me think," Lee concluded.

It comes following Azeala's chaotic and lengthy Instagram rant last week, during which the 212 hitmaker said, "The Australian entertainment/music industry isn't exactly heralded by the heads of government or anyone in the world as a coveted cultural export."

"I don't think they realise how unimportant they are as far as music culture goes because they're deluded with the idea that their whiteness makes Australia an A Market when it's truly a C-D market. Brazil is a MUCH more important market for music than Australia lmao." 

"This is mostly because Australia has an extreme death of internationally appetising talent outside of Kylie Minogue, INXS & AC/DC, (Tame Impala is just cheesy to me, and Wolfmother is excellent - but clearly an American rock tribute band)."

She continued, "Australia doesn't really have many music acts that anyone truly cares about on a global scale because they're in a vacuum of off-brand British culture."

"Could be to do with it being geographically so out of the way and how aggressive, barbaric, oppressive and violent they have been in regards to the very existence of native black peoples that they've actually systematically stomped out their country's own ability to develop its own music/arts culture to instead look to England and the USA for ideas to regurgitate not realising that the reason the Australian music industry and Australian culture is so trash is BECAUSE of their country's historical post-colonial obsession with I guess, trying to prove to England and the Monarchy that they - a legion of convicts/mentally insane social rejects - were, in fact, a proper white/Anglo-Saxon society using the massacre/ subjugation of black/indigenous peoples (manifest destiny bullshit) and theft of their land as a marker of national strength."

"But they have actually created one of the most culturally stale white nations on the planet," she added.