Let me preface this article by emphatically stating that I am the biggest Q-Tip and Tribe fan on the planet hands down. I could go on and on about how I think the few albums Tribe crafted in my mind surpass the greatest achievements of The Beatles, David Bowie, etc. Midnight Maurauders, in my humble opinion, is the definition of absolute perfection on wax. I even own a physical copy of The Love Movement. But in regards to Iggy Azalea, my main man Tip is buggin’ out.
By now, I’m sure you’ve combed through Tip’s lengthy tweeting session to Iggy, but here is a snippet:
“U may ask why … Well once you are born black your existence I believe is joined with socio-political epitaph and philos based on the tangled and treacherous history SLAVERY alone this is the case it never leaves our conversation… Ever. WeAther in our universities our dinner tables our studios or jail cells… the effects still resononates with us. It hurts… We get emotional and angry and melancholy… did u know president Clinton was the ONLY PRESIDENT to apologize for it? did u know that remnants of slavery exist today thru white privilege? When certain “niceties” r extended your way because of how u look? Isn’t that crazy?”
Q-Tip did go on to say that he respects Iggy and believes she should be allowed to make the music she feels comfortable making, but at the end of the day I ultimately feel that his criticisms are being issued at the wrong person. I don’t believe Azealia Banks was on a social crusade to save the culture when she called out Iggy, ultimately commencing this whole nonsensical mess, but more about that later.
Nicki Minaj currently has a song on the radio called “Only.” To my knowledge, there is not a grand attack against her as far as misrepresenting the genre goes. Possibly, Nicki’s version U-N-I-T-Y is the shared-level of thirst both Drake and Lil Wayne have in regards to fucking her. Is Nicki aware of MC Lyte, Bahamadia, Queen Latifah, and a slew of other female artists that paved the way for her so that we could enjoy the “Anaconda” video in the 21st century in its glorious entirety? Regardless of whether Nicki knows her origins or not, the fact that these questions are not being asked of her is the problem. Why is she immune to the same criticism?
First off, I have no ties with Iggy Azalea (unfortunately). A lot of people are under the misguided impression that artists and journalists work hand-in-hand together. The exact opposite is true in fact. In short, they hate us, especially when artists we love release wack material and get criticized for pointing out the wackness. For instance, I like the rest of the world banged the shit out of Kush & OJ, but bashed my head against the wall when I heard “Roll Up” for the first time. In short, journalism is a thankless job, and only the crazy ones get involved in the first place.
But I digress. The crimes being issued at Iggy aren’t really crimes at all. When a new Hip-Hop artist appears on the scene, nobody’s initial reaction is to question whether or not they know their history. I won’t name specific names, but I doubt most of the artists (the black ones) dominating the radio right now probably think Erick Sermon is some television evangelist who sells overpriced self-help books. Iggy is being targeted because she is an Australian white girl– period. It’s akin to the fucked up citizenship policy of ours. Regardless of the fact that the names of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and even the Vice President of the United States are elusive facts to most Americans populating the streets, immigrants that arrive in this country are supposed to learn this information before they become citizens. Metaphorically, this is exactly what the Hip-Hop world is doing to Iggy, and it’s 100% unfair.
Hip-Hop has come a long way and is by far the most popular genre on the planet today. Recent releases by Katy Perry and Lady Gaga featured Hip-Hop artists Juicy J and Too $hort, respectively. Even former Disney princess Miley Cyrus is busy perfecting her twerking technique. It’s almost comical to listen to Ice Cube’s lamentation of radio stations refusing to play Hip-Hop on his song “Turn Off The Radio” in retrospect. The genre will always be copyrighted by African Americans, but to limit others from participating in the genre is ass backwards, and defeats the purpose altogether. In terms of the actual music, Hip-Hop is a blend of variegated musical genres re-purposed for fresh sounds (A Tribe Called Quest anyone?). Hip-Hop has always been about inviting people to the party, regardless of skin tone or origin.
By all indications, Iggy has a genuine love for Hip-Hop. Her comeuppance has been well-documented, but surprisingly, it took a lot more than a big booty and a T.I. co-sign to get her to her current state. Regardless of whether you appreciate her music or not, she should not be accused of raping the culture when all her actions point to the contrary. There is not one single artist in the game right now that I couldn’t quickly rifle off a criticism in terms of them damaging the culture. Iggy should be able to do what she loves without having to memorize 2pac’s “Oldschool,” because let’s face it, neither have a lot of the individuals populating the current generation.
“White chick on that Pac shit
My passion was ironic
And my dreams were uncommon
Guess I gone crazy, first deal changed me
Robbed blind, basically raped me
Ran through the bullshit like a Matador
Just made me madder and adamant to go at em
And even the score
So, I went harder
Studied Tha Carters till a deal was offered
Slept cold on the floor recording
At 4 in the morning and now I’m passing the bar like a lawyer
Immigrant, art ignorant
Ya ill intent was insurance for my benefit
Hate be inconsiderate, but the industry took my innocence
Too late, now I’m in this, bitch”
-Iggy Azalea “Work”
This entire thing started when Azealia Banks went on a rampage against Iggy via social media. In regards to how the “beef” started, she stated: “It actually started at CMJ Music Festival back in September when she went on Twitter and said, ‘I’m next level, I had a song about being a Barbie before Nicki Minaj had a song about being a Barbie. Here’s the link to my song. And fuck Iggy Azalea, I had a song called ‘Pussy’ before she ever did. Here’s a link to my song. It’s better.” These are the fiery words of a cocky Hip Hop artist, the likes of which are endless. After she released 212 Banks should have blown up realistically speaking. She can truly rap her ass off, with a unique style to boot, but her mainstream pushes have been less than extraordinary to be as euphemistic as possible. Not long ago I was commissioned to write a review of her “Heavy Metal And Reflective” track. After listening to the track several times, I wrote:
“This is ass cheeks.”
Obviously my editor was less than pleased, but Banks argument that Iggy is stagnating her own career trajectory because of her skin tone is ridiculous. Ms. Banks, if you are reading this, revisit your old material and stop with the neo-Missy Elliot meets Foxy Brown shtick. You are supremely talented but the majority of your singles have been, well, ass cheeks. Just being honest.
Artists should know where they came from, that much cannot be denied. But if Iggy requires a history lesson, I’m sure 99% of the game does as well. Q-Tip can fund his own Hip-Hop camp, where potential artists must study the legendary showdown between MC Shan and KRS-1, Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines,” Rakim’s birth of the “lyrical MC,” and why Jay-Z feels the need to overcharge niggas for what they did to the Cold Crush. But if this doesn’t happen, then Iggy should be able to cook without being bumrushed by the Hip-Hop sect of the N.A.A.C.P. Of all people, one of the founding members of the Zulu Nation (built on the principles of love, understanding, and unity across all races) should understand this better than anyone.
Luckily, Azelia Banks is being questioned (particularly by Ebro of Hot 97) about her true motives behind her attack, and her story has flip-flopped so many times to the point where John Kerry would be double-emoji-face disgusted. Iggy’s instinctive travel to the path of ass-shaking rhymes (or the art of moving butts) has a different origin story than most MCs, but people should not be so quick to question her artistic motives. Her recent tirade against the industry is the rational response to a nation of millions (quick Iggy, name that reference) attempting to revoke her Hip-Hop green card. Hip-Hop has grown from the street corner to the far corners of the world, and it’s only natural that people would want to aspire to be apart of this rich culture. To prevent Iggy from doing Iggy is the same sort of reverse racism your sociology professor erroneously told you doesn’t exist. As long as there are artists like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Freddie Gibbs, Logic, etc. who really cares if Iggy is providing the soundtrack to our evenings of unabashed ratchedness? Rooftop like we bringing ’88 back?