Iggy Azalea is in the middle of one of the biggest breakout years we’ve seen from a female rapper in a long time. But along with her success she has also been dogged by some critics who accuse her of cultural appropriation and rumors of not writing her lyrics. T.I. is not happy about this.
Despite all the criticism however, as it stands now, Iggy has accomplished nothing but milestones in 2014. Her anthem “Fancy” earned the honor as Billboard’s top Song of the Summer for 2014, with a strong follow up hit in “Black Widow,” featuring Rita Ora. And the gigs continue to pile in: she’s got a job in TV as host of MTV’s revamped “House of Style,” already announced her first foray into film, and landed a shoe line in partnership with Steve Madden.
Criticism has not curbed Iggy’s success, so why not let naysayers keep talking? According to T.I., who offered his protégé a key co-sign at a pivotal point in her career, her detractors don’t have “the right.” In his mind, he thinks there’s a hint of hypocrisy in black people scolding Iggy.
In an interview with theGrio, T.I. had this to say about Iggy’s critics:
She is a white rapper, but she’s also a phenomenally talented and gifted performer. I think that in this day and age… 2014, color, race, creed, gender… for us to use those stereotypical things to separate us or use it as an excuse to not like something… I think that makes you a wack person.
If there’s anything wack, it’s the reality that Iggy can embody black cultural mores and customs and maintain broader reach, but the likes of Nicki Minaj feel compelled to sing pop ballads about potions, starships, and super basses in order to capture that same audience. The same goes for other black acts. Sam Smith and Adele can be praised for their “soul,” but Jazmine Sullivan won’t get the same spins on those same pop radio stations.
T.I. addressed Iggy detractors again in a separate interview with Complex News:
Me knowing her, knowing where she comes from—for real, the whole racist thing, that’s American—we forget, she’s not American. So the whole Black, white, color divided thing, it isn’t a part of her DNA like it is here in America. It’s just ignorant to me. In this day and age, to be a race of people who are demanding equality and speaking out on injustices and wanting to be treated fairly, to stand up and do the exact same thing in opposite to someone unwarranted for no reason, it’s hypocritical. I’m a ride with her.
As much as I enjoy T.I. the rapper, I can do without T.I. the faux philosopher, post-racial theorist, and thinker. To say that racism is exclusive to America is like saying sunshine only exists in southern California. If there’s any person who can attest to the silliness of such a notion, it’s the Aborigines of Australia.
T.I. also spoke out against accusations that Iggy is racist. He knows her better than we do. That said, there is a Tumblr dedicated to questionable tweets she’s made about race in the past. There are also equally problematic comments made in interviews about her dabbles in cultural appropriation.
T.I. is perpetually petulant, so I’m not surprised that criticisms of Iggy Azalea “piss him off.” However, no artist is above criticism, particularly when they behave in such a manner that practically flags down critics. It remains to be seen whether or not Iggy will have lasting success or become the pop culture daughter of Vanilla Ice.
No matter what anyone has to say about the Australian rapper who spits as if she were a black woman from varying regions of the U.S. South, she and her shtick are an undeniable success. That doesn’t make the criticism of Iggy any less valid. After all, while she’s not the first emcee to get away with fiction, the extent to which she does is breathtaking. To many music listeners, she is more or less a drag queen, only in this instance; she is to black women what many gay men are to Patti LaBelle, Cher, and Beyoncé. The difference is, drag queens own their caricatures. They wouldn’t spit lines like “First things first, I’m the realest” and actually mean it.
Either way, more than anything else, it has been her whiteness that has benefited Iggy Azalea the most and no matter how uncomfortable hearing that repeated makes her supporters feel, it is the truth. Besides, it could be worse: she could bear the burden of being a black female rapper trying to make it in 2014.
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