Hip-hop community reluctant to embrace chart-topping Aussie MC Iggy Azalea

It’s a black and white issue, in the most literal sense.

Iggy Azalea.

She’s a white girl indebted to black culture.

More specifically, she’s a blond rapper from Australia whose full-length debut, the audaciously, if somewhat misleadingly titled “The New Classic,” released in April, has spawned a number of hit singles, the biggest of which, “Fancy,” is one of the top-selling songs of the year.

“Fancy” hit No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart and stayed there for seven consecutive weeks, the longest run any female rapper has ever enjoyed.

The song has been streamed more than 78 million times on Spotify, with Azalea rhyming of sloshing Champagne and staying strong in the face of those omnipresent haters over a simple, ’80s-sounding synth line, gang vocal chants and a lazy, clapping beat.

She does so in the dialect and drawl of an African-American woman from the Deep South.

As such, Azalea has been accused of cultural appropriation, of being a musical carpetbagger mining a culture that’s not her own.

Because of this, she has been dismissed overtly by hip-hop purists and more subtly by the likes of fellow female MC Nicki Minaj during an acceptance speech at the BET Awards.

As swiftly as she has risen up the charts, Azalea has become a lightning rod for criticism.

She shouldn’t be, at least not for the argument in question (her rap skills are much more open for scrutiny).

First off, culture is an open-ended thing, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

It both absorbs and is there to be absorbed.

Ultimately, this is what enables a given culture to continually grow and develop, its permeability, and the free exchange of ideas from one group of people to the next.

Hip-hop is a prime example of as much.

Yes, it’s both a music and a culture that originated in the African-American community.

But from the very genesis of rap, it was directly incorporating influences outside itself.

The first hip-hop song to break into the top five of the Billboard singles chart, the music’s first legitimate pop hit, was Run DMC’s take on Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” while one of the most significant and influential early hip-hop songs, “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa &the Soulsonic Force, which introduced the Roland 808 drum machine to the genre, was directly indebted to Japanese electronic troupe Yellow Magic Orchestra and German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk.

So, basically, two of the cornerstones of hip-hop were abetted, in large part, by a group of longhairs from Boston and a bunch of Japanese and German dudes.

No one talks about cultural appropriation in these contexts, nor should they: Both Run DMC and Bambaataa were creating something new, something unheard of at the time from these sounds that they were inspired by — though Kraftwerk may not have initially seen it that way (Kraftwerk sued Bambaataa’s label Tommy Boy Records and settled out of court for his sampling of their music).

The very idea of sampling, which has long been a staple of hip-hop, is posited on merging different sounds from different artists, a co-mingling of cultures.

It’s the musical embodiment of the marketplace of ideas.

This is one of the things that has kept hip-hop so consistently fresh and relevant, its openness and ability to incorporate sounds outside of itself.

Thing is, that door swings both ways: You can’t willfully borrow from other cultures and then cry foul when others do the same to yours.

Moreover, think of how both parties have benefited from the exchange.

In capturing the hearts and minds of white kids the world over, hip-hop broadened it base to the extent that it’s arguably become the biggest, most influential form of music there is, its fingerprints everywhere, from much of contemporary country music to rock, metal to electronic dance music, pop to polka (Seriously. Google it.)

White audiences were instrumental in helping to popularize the music, providing the larger audiences crucial in enabling it to graduate from inner-city streets to sold-out arenas and make millionaires out of its biggest stars.

Would anyone seriously suggest that it’s OK for white people to consume the music, to be inspired by it and yet, in turn, have no relationship with the music other than as its patrons?

Some seem to think so.

Earlier this year, rapper Prodigy of the great hip-hop duo Mobb Deep lashed out on Twitter against a white music critic who positively reviewed the reissue of the group’s seminal 1995 “The Infamous.”

“If u don’t come from our blood stream how can u make a proper assessment of our music? U don’t understand it. U a outsider peeking in,” Prodigy wrote.

This is from a guy whose group once toured with Limp Bizkit, who gladly cashed plenty of checks based on support from white guys like the journalist in question.

But Prodigy’s argument is not uncommon in hip-hop — it also applies directly to much of the criticism of Iggy Azalea — and it all boils down to the question of authenticity.

If you’re not a member of African-American culture, how can you create or comment in any real, meaningful way upon music that germinates from said culture?

But here’s the thing: Someone like Azalea isn’t co-opting said culture or attempting to claim ownership of it so much as she’s filtering it through a culture of her own.

Yes, she’s indebted to it, but she’s also doing her own thing with it, much like Bambaataa did with Kraftwerk’s music.

The rise of someone such as Iggy Azalea isn’t an affront to hip-hop culture, then, but yet another testament to its power and reach.

Seriously, think about it, a 24-year-old white girl from halfway around the world making waves in hip-hop?

Fancy that.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Get a sneak peak of Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like