Last week, Mic.com published an article entitled, "Hip-Hop's Huge Problem With Iggy Azalea Just Blew Up - And She Completely Deserves It."
It talks about Iggy Azalea starting a bit of controversy within the hip-hop community, as you can see from the excerpt below:
The whole hip-hop community has finally taken Azalea to task for building her career by stealing black musical sounds and styles and using her whiteness to sell them to the masses.
Well, of course, white culture steals from black culture.
If not for black culture, the only music white people would have nowadays is country music.
As far as I'm concerned, "white culture" is an oxymoron.
Relatively speaking, white people don't have any culture; that's why we keep stealing from black culture.
Anyway, I've gone in depth about Iggy Azalea before, sometimes in a humorous way at her expense.
But I'm not gonna talk about her, specifically.
Yes, she had 6 nominations at last month's AMAs, which was the most for that evening, but if her success owed solely to her race, then she would have won all 6 of her nominations, instead of just 2.
Furthermore, the categories she did win were Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and Album.
In both of those categories, she was up against Drake and Eminem.
If Drake was the only other nominee for those awards, then there would be a controversy.
However, since Eminem was also nominated for those awards, it doesn't make sense to blame Iggy's race for her success.
Don't forget, people were also saying the same thing about Eminem when he started to make it big.
But white rappers like Eminem don't become famous just because they're white.
Joell Ortiz, a member of Slaughterhouse (a rap group signed to Eminem's appropriately-named label, Shady Records), said in an interview a few days ago that Eminem's work ethic was responsible for his fame, not his race:Eminem works very, very, very hard. Put it like this, I’m from the projects. I grew up in the projects, predominantly black, African American. Pre-music, pre-my career, the thing that was said in barber shops was "I mean he’s nice, but the fact that he’s white is why he’s winning." I’m being honest with you. That’s what gets said. I mean, it helps that he’s white. And I wasn’t able to defend him cause I didn’t know him. But now I know why. He’s who he is. He lives in the studio. He breathes it. Passionate is an understatement. This guy cares about it. He cares about rap. He cares about what he’s saying. He knows he has such an important voice. He wants to say something. And he says it well.
So race isn't the only reason that white rappers become famous, or get signed to a more established rapper's label and become their protégé.
Otherwise, underground white rappers like Aesop Rock would be just as famous as Eminem, and Tairrie B. would be just as famous as Iggy Azalea.
Cultural appropriation did not begin with white rappers, nor will it end with them.
In fact, it didn't even start with hip-hop.
Let's elaborate with a little experiment.
Take another look at the article excerpt:The whole hip-hop community has finally taken Azalea to task for building her career by stealing black musical sounds and styles and using her whiteness to sell them to the masses.
Now we'll blank out some of the words:The whole _ community has finally taken _ to task for building _ career by stealing black musical sounds and styles and using _ whiteness to sell them to the masses.
And then, go to town:The whole hip-hop community has finally taken the Beastie Boys/Eminem/Macklemore to task for building their/his career by stealing black musical sounds and styles and using their/his whiteness to sell them to the masses.The whole jazz community has finally taken Dave Brubeck to task for building his career by stealing black musical sounds and styles and using his whiteness to sell them to the masses.
The whole rock community has finally taken every British Invasion band ever to task for building his/their career by stealing black musical sounds and styles and using his/their whiteness to sell them to the masses.
The whole R&B community has finally taken Elvis Presley/Justin Timberlake/Amy Winehouse/Adele/Sam Smith/Hall and Oates to task for building his/her/their career by stealing black musical sounds and styles and using his/her/their whiteness to sell them to the masses.
Just to be clear, I'm not at all saying that black people are better off having white people steal their culture.
This is about the argument from the article excerpt.
It would admittedly be great if a white musician performing black music would return the favor (however they choose to do that).
Like, when Eminem was recording "My Name Is," and Dr. Dre wanted to use the Labi Siffre song, "I Got The," for the rhythm track, Labi Siffre (who is openly gay) remarked on the homophobia and misogyny in what would become the trademark of Eminem's lyrics:Attacking two of the usual scapegoats, women and gays, is lazy writing. If you want to do battle, attack the aggressors, not the victims.
The sample was cleared only after some of the lyrics were changed, including these 2:Extra-terrestrial, killing pedestrians, raping lesbians while they're screaming, "Let's just be friends!"
which becameExtra-terrestrial, running over pedestrians in a spaceship while they're screaming at me, "Let's just be friends!"
andMy English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high. The only problem was, my English teacher was a guy.
My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high. Thanks a lot; next semester, I'll be 35."
That probably doesn't constitute positive messages of any kind. In an ideal world, a white rapper might make songs addressing racial issues, like the pre-Ryan Lewis Macklemore track, "White Privilege," or songs with positive messages like:My prayer for you is that you hit all the goals you're trying to reach. I even hope at one point you take it farther than me.
Although that probably wouldn't count, since that's a line from the Iggy Azalea song, "Impossible Is Nothing."
But, referring back to the mention of country music earlier, consider LL Cool J and Darius Rucker.
First, LL Cool J was once featured on a song with country singer Brad Paisley, called "Accidental Racist."
That went over like the Hindenburg.
And then there's Darius Rucker, formerly of Hootie and the Blowfish.
He's spent his solo career singing country music, with 2 controversies to bring up.
First, in May 2013, he performed in Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, a famous venue for country music.
Someone tweeted:Leave country to the white folk.
Darius Rucker, understandably bothered by the tweet, responded:Wow. Is this 2013 or 1913? I'll take my Grand Ole Opry membership and leave your racism. Wow.
More recently, however, he himself sparked a controversy after performing "White Christmas" at the Rockefeller Center in New York City earlier this month.
Granted, the song is not racist, but the word, "white," in the title would make it a questionable choice for Darius Rucker, especially since this wasn't long after an NYPD officer was not indicted after choking an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, to death.
In both of these cases, black musicians perform predominantly white genres and are met with resistance on par with resistance towards white musicians performing predominantly black genres.
Let's try the experiment from earlier with the aforementioned tweet:Leave country to the white folk.
Blank out some of the words:Leave _ to the _ folk.
And then:Leave rap to the black folk.
You get the idea, right?
If you're going to make the argument that white people shouldn't be making black music, be consistent.
For instance, I once showed my dad a line from the Iggy Azalea song, "New Bitch":If you don't want no problems, move yourself from the equation.
I chose that particular line to show him because I thought the wordplay involving "problems" and "equation" was pretty clever.
But he was bothered by her use of a double negative, especially since she was white and using a double negative would be considered "talking black."
Later, he was listening to the Louis Prima song, "Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," in which a white person uses a double negative as a means of "talking black."
I asked him why he wasn't bothered by that when Iggy Azalea bothered him, despite Louis Prima basically doing the exact same thing.
Apparently, he didn't know that Louis Prima was white.
Bottom line, even though cultural appropriation is a serious issue, it's happened so often over so many years that it would be silly to complain about a single person doing that.
It would make a lot more sense to complain about Lorde getting 3 nominations at the AMAs and NOT WINNING ANY OF THEM WHATISWRONGWITHYOUPEOPLE?!?!
...sorry. Have a happy new year, everyone!