Azealia Banks and her ex-label boss, Jeff Kwatinetz, have been at odds since the summer of 2020. The battle began over royalties Kwatinetz allegedly withheld from Banks while he was CEO of her former label, Prospect Park. It has since become a mud-slinging melee, with Kwatinetz suing Banks that September for “terrifying conduct [that] appears to be part of a coordinated extortion campaign” — including an alleged attempted burglary of his Los Angeles home — and Banks countersuing two months later with accusations of both financial and sexual misconduct. In her complaint, she claimed Kwatinetz’s “blur[ed] the lines between a fiduciary and a romantic suitor so that he could take financial advantage” of her, noting that she was 23 and he was 49 the period in question. (On Instagram, she claimed Kwatinetz “used to snort coke out of [her] asshole.”)
Now, Pitchfork reports, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Serena R. Murillo has granted Banks’ request to postpone their upcoming trial date from February 2024 to at least July of next year, while the rapper-singer-songwriter-provocateur’s new attorney, John Fava, gathers evidence and testimony. “The Court finds there is good cause to continue trial due to Cross-Complainants’ [(Banks’ team's)] inability to obtain essential testimony, documents, or other material evidence, despite Cross-Complainants[’] diligent efforts,” Judge Murillo wrote in a document reviewed by the publication following an October 23 hearing.
“After unnecessary litigation and pressure caused when recently substituting this matter, we are happy that the Court agreed with our Ex Parte Application to allow more discovery,” Vafa told Pitchfork. “We look forward to uncovering more evidence to defeat Kwatinetz’s claims and bolster Ms. Banks’ claims against Kwatinetz. Litigation is burdensome for all parties, including unearthing more evidence. Whether the dispute could be resolved informally or for the case to be decided by a jury is for the parties and the Court to decide. With that said, we are optimistic about the outcome for Ms. Banks.”
Hearings in the case so far have been surreal and packed with drama — unsurprisingly so, considering Banks’ affinity for pot-stirring behavior and the animosity between the two parties. Tensions came to a head at a July 23 hearing to which Banks reportedly arrived two hours late and — according to a statement to Pitchfork by Kwatinetz’s attorney, Michael Weinsten — “refused to answer the majority of questions asked, engaged in wild and bizarre antics and then walked out after only a few hours of questioning.” After the hearing, her former lawyer quit. (Neither Vafa nor Weinsten immediately returned The FADER’s request for comment.)
Transcripts obtained by Pitchfork are relatively consistent with Weinsten’s account. Banks explained her lateness by saying she’d been in her hotel room, “straight ironing [her] beautiful wig.” Later, while being questioned by an attorney for Kwatinetz, she called him “a nappy-headed Jew with nothing to do,” tried to bully the lawyer into saying the n-word, and — when asked point blank whether she had a problem with Jews — said, “No, but I have a problem with you. And if you happen to be Jewish and you happen to take that in some sort of way, then that’s you. But, no, actually I love Jewish dick. Thank you.” When asked about the specifics of a life insurance policy, she made a plea for understanding: “Do you understand that I am a thespian? I’m a dancer. I’m a singer. These are not— this is not my forte.”
Banks’ lawsuit claims she was only paid $15,344.94 while at Prospect Park but was owed at least half of the label’s reported net revenue of roughly $200,000 from that period. (Banks also alleges that Prospect Park made more money during that time than they let on.) The label essentially folded shortly after the release of her sole studio LP, Broke With Expensive Taste, in 2014. Banks was retained as an “established” client, along with Ice Cube and P.O.D., but left the following year.
The Harlem-born artist has a courtroom history beyond her litigation with Kwatinetz. In 2017, she pleaded guilty of assault after biting the breast of a nightclub security guard in 2015.
She’s been open about her struggle with bipolar disorder, publishing an essay on Black mental health after a string of homophobic tweets got her dropped from a festival and banned from Twitter (now X). Separately, she’s feuded publicly with the platform’s current owner, Elon Musk. She’s also had well-publicized beefs with Grimes (Musk’s ex-wife), Lizzo, Rihanna, Russell Crow, and a number of other celebrities. Earlier this year, she lavished praise on far-right Florida governor Ron DeSantis in an interview.
Through it all, she’s continued to release well-received music. In March, she collaborated with Australian house producer Torren Foot to release “New Bottega.”