Bleats

Iggy Azalea Is Bravely Moving From Borrowing Black Culture To Borrowing Latin Culture

We regret to inform you that Mullumbimby's finest is at it again.

Sadly, not every major Australian export is as consistently delightful as Margot Robbie, Hugh Jackman, quokkas and the various Hemsworths. Some of them are Iggy Azalea, who has spent the last five years being generally kind of embarrassing.

I mean sure, she’s the first act since The Beatles to debut at #1 and #2 on the Billboard chart simultaneously (because ‘Fancy’ and ‘Problem’ are both jams despite her involvement, rather than because of it), and it takes a certain kind of guts to repeatedly refer to herself as “the realest” while doing everything in a fake accent, but she’s also…kind of terrible.

Her new single, ‘Savior’, features Quavo (⅓ of Migos) taking care of the actual rapping, while Azalea sort of talk-sings over the same kind of vaguely reggaeton beat pretty much everyone is doing right now.

But Jezebel writer Julianna Escobedo Shepherd points out that the combination of the super-lite beats and the video’s Roman-Catholic-kitsch-via-Baz-Luhrmann meets “extremely mid/late 2000s Shakira” (which, OUCH) styling skates dangerously close to a pivot from borrowing black cultural markers to borrowing Latinx ones.

There’s nothing wrong with reinventing yourself – repeatedly! – but there’s something people find grating about how Azalea’s gone about it.  

It’s not like you’re not ~allowed~ to be a rapper if you’re white. It’s just that when you’re a white woman from Mullumbimby and you cultivate the style, artistry and an accent of a black girl from the South, it’s understandable if some people feel like you’re treating their culture like a costume you can put on, and benefiting from that culture without enduring any of the racist bullshit that inspires so much of its strength and power.

Did nobody invite Iggy to the sleepovers where we all learned that it’s a jerk move to steal dance moves?

Yes, she does it because she thinks rap and Southern hip hop culture and black women’s style are cool, and imitation, flattery, all that. But if somebody copied off your homework without doing any of the research themselves, would you just be flattered that they thought your work was worth copying, or kinda pissed off?

And she’s demonstrated (a few times) that she definitely hasn’t done the homework when it comes to race and her position in the world as a white woman – a truly shocking lack of ideological sophistication for a white Australian rapper from regional NSW.

We’re generally well-known internationally for our nuanced understanding of “s**t that’s completely fine definitely not racist at all”.

The thing is, there’s some genuinely fantastic hip hop being made by young women in Australia: Tkay Maidza, Sampa The Great, Miss Blanks, and newcomers like imbi the girl, just to name a few.

But Iggy isn’t part of this current boom, because never wanted to be an Australian artist – she wants to be, specifically, an American rapper.

Fun fact: When you search for this gif in Googld image search, half the results are memes about Iggy Azalea.

She moved to the US when she was 16; admittedly there weren’t a lot of prominent women in the hip hop scene here in 2006, but rather than staying and helping to build something within the community and culture here, she bailed to tag along with someone else’s.

Azalea’s spent her career jumping on bandwagons, borrowing ideas and never having an original one of her own – why start now?

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