730 Column: Iggy’s Place in Hip-Hop

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Iggy Azalea’s been feeling it lately. And by “it,” I mean heat from the hip-hop community. The public backlash to her cultural thievery climaxed when Q-Tip gave her a 40 tweet cram session on the history of hip-hop, which only prompted the guy who thought he could be called Tip as well to defend her, which he kinda had to do being that she’s his artist and all.

The issue itself is a debate that’s been raging since the days of Elvis toe-tapping – Does [insert white artist] care about the people behind the music [s/he] is jacking? Every white artist whose ever caught a buzz has had to deal with that question at some point, and deservedly so, especially with all the fuckboys who have pimped hip-hop culture like it’s a one-night stand and stepping stone for whatever’s next. Shout out to Marky Mark on that one.

The question at heart is always if an artist genuinely respects and cares enough about the culture they’re an outsider to and if they do, is that enough for them to gain insider status. Is the fact that Eminem rolls with Royce Da 5’9” and D12 and was initially signed by Dr. Dre enough to say that he truly deserves to be a respected voice in music? If Iggy had tweeted something about the grand jury’s decision not to prosecute Eric Holder’s murderer, would that have meant anything, even if she truly didn’t give a shit about it? Or do we want Iggy to be able to name everyone in the Furious Five to show that she’s a student of the game?

Personally, I would much rather have someone show they don’t give a shit about the real issues the hip-hop community faces on a daily basis and know that as opposed to someone faking their way through and thinking they’re real, only to be disappointed later. Iggy’s as fake as a $3 bill, and if that comes off as a surprise to anyone, maybe I shoulda put “Spoiler Alert” in the title.

Iggy’s place in hip-pop/whatever genre she is now is whatever place the fans let it be. If no one listens to the terrible music she releases, she’ll eventually disappear. But we all know that’s not going to happen. There’s too much money already invested in her to ever have a label stop spending radio money. And then there’s the most popular hip-hop blog sites that post anything related to Iggy, whether it’s her tour dates or one of her terrible videos, where she has to nearly naked to draw any hits. While any one singular post isn’t enough to make or break anyone, a continuous stream of posts is cosign enough, especially from a serious site, to help cement an artist’s place in the game.

Keep in mind, she’s already won the 2014 American Music Award for favorite rapper and favorite rap album with her debut The New Classic. Don’t be shocked if she doesn’t win the Grammy too. J. Cole said it best on “Fire Squad”: “While silly ni**as argue over who gon’ snatch the crown/Look around my ni**a, white people have snatched the sound/This year, I’ll probably go to the awards dappered down/Watch Iggy win a Grammy as I try to crack a smile.”

We also need to ask ourselves why we ever gave Iggy the spotlight in the first place. Was it because she came in with T.I.’s cosign? Why did she even merit that? Was it because she was a white girl with an inflated ass, which has been noticeably deflated as she’s ventured more into pop. Whatever the reason, was there ever, for even a second, a point when anyone actually listened to her music and said, “This is trash. Why would this get signed/posted/listened to?” Obviously not enough tastemakers or industry heads ever asked that question, because doing so could be very bad. For an exec, it might mean missing out on someone that could make another label a lot of money, regardless of the message or meaning behind the music. For a blogger, not posting something could mean losing clicks, losing standing in the network, and igniting the wrath of a label head or artist, who could attempt to cut off exclusive content out of pure spite. I’ve had enough execs try that on me, and while they’re only crying wolf, most bloggers aren’t willing to take that risk to find out.

If you don’t like the fact that she’s pimping hip-hop culture when it can make her some quick bread, do something about it. Don’t support her music. Don’t follow her on Twitter. Hip-hop is supposed to be for the people, by the people, and any imposters can and should get the gas face.

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