“I found it to be kind of ironic,” she noted. “Because I’m white, therefore I’m appropriating culture, but then Eminem won it – who’s white and won it many times – and they didn’t seem to say anything about that. I suspect it was just because they dislike me.”
While not a hip hop blog I’ve wanted to address Iggy Azalea for quite some time. Now I’m an Asian-American from the suburbs of Arizona so I’m no authority on appropriating the hip hop culture. Hell I’ve probably done appropriated the culture more than I like to admit. That said I did feel the need to address the above quote.
Iggy mentions that what Eminem is doing is cultural appropriation and she’s right. Nobody is arguing that it isn’t. In fact it’s something he has addressed on the song White America with the line if I was black I woulda sold half. Unlike Iggy Azalea who seems to keep her head in the sand more than anything. There’s no denying that white artists doing ‘black’ music benefit like Miley Cyrus and Macklemore will get more airplay than distribution than their contemporaries. It’s the terrible reality of “urban” music. Pointing out “BUT BUT THEM!” just looks awful.
What gets Em a pass, at least to me, is the fact that Eminem has shown a real appreciation for hip hop. For example while the results have been mixed Shady Records has been one of the few labels to hire rappers based on lyrical merit more than anything else. The same goes for the Total Slaughter show which, again while the final product was botched, tried to help push battle rap forward. Eminem becoming one of the biggest pop stars of the early 2000’s felt more like a byproduct of his fame than anything else. He was a rapper first and foremost. On the flipside Iggy Azalea’s use of hip hop culture feels more like latching onto something popular than anything else. She may be a fan but we’ve already seen that she’s latched onto popular trends before. It just so happens that being a knockoff Nicki Minaj worked out better than being a second rate Britney Spears. This is particularly damning when her breakout single starts with the line “first thing’s first I’m the realest.”
The other issue, although less important, is that it’s the Grammys we’re talking about. Who cares what they have to say about hip hop? They have had some straight up wrong opinions about hip hop since day one. This is the voting committee that decided that Coolio had a better song than either Tupac or Biggie, that didn’t even bother to nominate Illmatic and that thought Macklemore deserved four more awards than Tupac, Biggie, Public Enemy and Run DMC combined. Even this year the general consensus is that Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 paled in comparison to albums like Run the Jewels 2 and YG’s My Krazy Life. Between past history and the Macklemore faux pas last year people pre-hating the thought of Iggy winning the Grammy has some merit to it.
Look I’m sure that she’s a fine person if you know her but it’s easy to see why people dislike her. Despite claiming to be a rapper she has done little to advance the culture and doesn’t seem to acknowledge that hey, being white may have given her a leg up in the music business. If she could just show a bit of humility and point out flaws in the system she might be thought of better. At the very least make better songs than Black Widow. Seriously how insanely wack was that song?