Over the past week and a half, YouTube has been taken over by videos of everyone from college kids to firefighters to grandmas shaking their collective butts to "Harlem Shake," the bouncy trap instrumental from Brooklyn producer and Diplo affiliate Baauer. The viral video craze has unexpectedly propelled the song to the top of the iTunes charts. But there's at least one person who isn't dancing anymore: Azealia Banks. The Harlem rapper, famous for her argumentative Twitter persona, is beefing with Baauer and Diplo, whose Mad Decent label released "Harlem Shake" last year, over the song.
Earlier this week, Banks released a video of her rapping over the song (in between twerking in some tight jeans and barely there tops) online. She also tweeted, "I actually did my version of 'Harlem Shake' months ago and was trying to clear for my album... then this all happened!" However, Baauer and Mad Decent reportedly had the song taken down and Banks' tweets soon took a turn toward the confrontational. First she told Baauer to stop "blocking" her then she called gossip blogger Perez Hilton "a f----t" for siding with Baauer — and given Banks' Twitter history, you knew it wasn't going to stop there.
Banks went on to claim that Diplo and Baauer had previously given her permission to use the beat. But Baauer explained his side of the story to the Daily Beast: "I’m not happy about it. She had a version that we were going to release because I’m a big fan of hers. So she laid something on ‘Harlem Shake’ and it was so/so. Didn’t love it. And that was a little while ago, and since all this video stuff happened, our plans all changed. Because of that, we decided to just release the song on its own with no vocal version. So we told her, ‘Please don’t release your version.’ And she said, ‘Well, I’m going to put it online anyway.’ And we said, ‘Please don’t. We’d really like it if you didn’t.’ And she did.”
Banks, however, disagreed with Baauer, taking to Tumblr and Instagram to post old emails the producer sent to her saying, among other things, "The vocal sounds fantastic. I really like the flow on it."
She later claimed that Diplo had emailed her as well. "@Diplo just sent me an email saying the reason they won't let my Harlem shake remix fly is because they'd rather have juicy j on it," she wrote. "You're a real f------ snake. you owe M.I.A everything you have." It's certainly a turnaround from last year, when Diplo and Banks appeared together on the cover of Vibe.
Diplo and Baauer have yet to respond, but stay tuned, because we have a feeling this is far from over.
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(Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for GQ)