09/26/12Posted in Features by L4LM

A Breakdown of the Munchi / Azealia Banks Beef


Justin Charles

First it was Deadmau5 and Madonna, now it's…Munchi and Azealia Banks? The latest genre-crossing beef may not be as mainstream, but still makes for relevant conversation in today's musical landscape. It's an interesting situation: One of rap music's hottest new female stars, Azealia Banks, decides to rap over an older track created by an up and coming producer, Munchi, and assumes he will be honored that she wants to release the song as a single. The producer, however, is offended, denies all offers for proper payment and credit, and sounds off against the rapper. The rapper starts Twitter war, and chaos ensues. Here's a simple  breakdown of the events.

The Players

Azealia Banks gained fame towards the end of 2011, when her first single '212′ became an Internet smash with a quirky music video. High profile performances like Coachella shot her to quick fame in the hip hop world as fans awaited more material.

Munchi is a Dutch producer known for his very prominent work within the Moombahton genre. He is generally regarded as the creator of the 'Moombahcore' sub-genre, and is highly respected within these circles.

Their Connection

The one link between these two artists is their association with DJ and producer Diplo, founder of the Mad Decent record label. Diplo has assisted Banks on several mixtapes, and also helped choose the beats for her summer mixture 'Fantasea', which featured the track in question. Munchi has released several tracks on the Mad Decent label himself, so his beats were clearly familiar in the mind of Diplo.

The Track

Munchi released 'Esta Noche' almost two years ago, sampling Montell Jordan and Claudja Barry's 'Get It on Tonite'. The song became a staple of the Moombahton genre, garnering support from big names like Skrillex.

Banks released her song, also titled 'Esta Noche', over the summer on her 'Fantasea' mixtape. The song's beat is Munchi's production un-edited.

If Munchi sampled Montell Jordan, why can't Azealia Banks sample Munchi?

Sampling is the art of taking bits and pieces from other recordings in order to create a new, original composition. Think Puff Daddy's 'I'll Be Missing You' sampling The Police's 'Every Breath You Take'. Munchi interpolated sounds from Montell Jordan's track to create his own beat. Banks simply rapped over Munchi's originally produced beat. That is not sampling, it's stealing.

But isn't that mixtape culture? Rappers are always rapping over other people's beats on mixtapes.

This is very true. When 'Esta Noche' was released on Banks' mixtape over the summer, not much was made of it. However, she later recorded a video and planned to release the track on iTunes – as in, sell it, and profit from it. That is where the problems arose.

Why didn't Banks' management attempt to compensate Munchi for the use of his beat?

They did. They recently offered Munchi $25,000, later upped to $50,000, plus full credit on all promotional materials, however he declined the offer.

A relatively unknown producer turned down a huge chunk of cash and free publicity? Is he crazy?

Maybe, but this is one of the finest examples of an artist sticking up for himself and the integrity of his work in recent memory. Munchi stated publicly that he never intended to release the track for profit out of respect for Montell Jordan, and was extremely offended that Banks went ahead and recorded the track without consulting him. He also asked for creative control over the track, which is uncommon in these situations, and was turned down.

So what is happening now?

The video and single release for 'Esta Noche' has been suspended indefinitely while this all hashes out. There is a minor twitter war going on, as Banks informed her 220,000 + Twitter followers that it was Munchi's fault her new single was not being released. Munchi has said some not so nice things about Banks and her crew as well, accusing her of being in the illuminati and claiming to have been disrespected "eleven times".

Who comes out of this crazy beef on top?

Munchi has definitely earned some street cred for shunning the major labels and standing up for what he believes in. It's not every day that producers turn down free money like that, and with the genre of EDM becoming more and more commercial every day, it's extremely refreshing to see someone push themselves out of the spot light for once. Unintentionally, however, it seems like Munchi has gotten more publicity than he can ever have dreamed. Banks, however, will probably just release a different single and video and forget this whole fiasco ever happened by tomorrow. So it's really hard to pick a winner.


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