Iggy Azalea

Cultural appropriation, Igloo Australia, Latinos, some other stuff

ahhh, going back to a topic I’ve been over dozens of times already.  I got started thinking about it after listening to this interview:

A short background- Azealia Banks is currently beefing with Iggy Azalea.  I haven’t followed all the reasons why, but I gather it has something to do with Azealia taking issue with Iggy having a similar name, having success in rap despite having dubious ability and Iggy’s history of racist statements.  And Iggy appears to be just goading Azealia and accusing her of being a whiner about not having Iggy’s level of success:

“Special msg for banks: There are many black artists succeeding in all genres. The reason you haven’t is because of your piss poor attitude. Your inability to be responsible for your own mistakes, bullying others, the inability to be humble or self control. It’s YOU! You created your own unfortunate situation by being a bigot and don’t have the mental capacity to realize yet. Probably never will. Now! rant, Make it racial! make it political! Make it whatever but I guarantee it won’t make you likable & THATS why ur crying on the radio.”

Make rap racial?  Make it political?  Uh, Hip-hop has always been both.  You couldn’t take those two out of hip-hop anymore than you could take rural identity out of Country or class politics out of punk rock.  That’s pretty stupid on Iggy’s part.

But anyway, the interview with Azealia is fascinating, and it’s kind of put some of the things I believe in perspective.  I’m a bit older and maybe I’m too detached to be thinking about this constructively- no one is trying to take anything from me culturally. I’ve been back and forth on the concept of cultural appropriation before, but in the end, I kind of think that if you’re upsetting a lot of people, then maybe you shouldn’t do it.  Or just be careful, because not every white rapper gets the same treatment that Iggy Azalea and Macklemore get.  But I’m about to embark on a tangent.

Latinos and Cultural Appropriation

So far I’ve mostly been thinking about cultural appropriation in regards to black culture, and I think that’s useful, because black people in America get a different experience than any other group.  Yes, people can be racist and mean to other minorities, but there’s a special level of hatred that is directed at black people.  But I don’t want to start an oppression ranking system here, so let’s move on.

I had a question that I may be able to answer, or maybe not, let’s see what you think.

Why is Latino music so appropriation proof?

I mean, sure, people do it every now and then:

But listening to Mr Cash, I hear someone who’s probably heard some Mexican music and wants to pay tribute.  What I can’t imagine is some white dude even taking over Latino music as its heard on pop radio and especially not becoming the guy you always hear on Spanish radio.  Maybe it’s happened already and I’m too lazy to find out, but I doubt it.

One reason I suspect is that Latino music has its origins in other countries.  Hip-Hop is American music.  I suspect that makes some people angry- both because they don’t like Americans making music that calls into question a lot of what Americans believe, and because the makers of said music are explicitly reserving it for a certain type of people, based on color*.  People like to insist that all opportunities be available to everyone, even if they’re willing to ignore that some opportunities are not actually available to everyone.

But Sambas or Corridos or whatever do not belong to Americans, and so we can borrow them, but no one is going to claim a right to play them.

There’s also the obstacle of learning another language, which is going to deter an awful lot of American musicians.

I wrote this post like a week ago.  I’m not sure it’s all that great, but I was starting to get that feeling like I have to post something or I’ll just quit entirely.  I have some other stuff coming.

 

*Again, I don’t really have a problem with this.  Black people have had to deal with so much bullshit in this country that we can allow them to have a few things to themselves.  It’s literally the least we can do.

 

 

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Fake Accents

I was listening to this going, what is going on here?

Mainly with her accent.  I had heard a bit about Iggy, but I was sure she is from Australia.  Turns out she is.  People have described her accent as Southern.  I’ll let her explain why she raps like this:

Have you ever rapped with your Australian accent?
Never. It feels weird to me. It’s the inflection at the end of a sentence when I take a breath. Obviously there are people who rap in all kinds of accents. But for me, rapping is like singing: The breath patterns aren’t the same as when I’m talking, so it’s easier to change into whatever I want. I couldn’t talk in an American accent—I could, but it would sound very fake—but I can rap in one with no problem.

OK, I guess.  This doesn’t really answer the question, but whatever.

It’s funny because earlier in the interview, she brings up the Rolling Stones:

Race has been an issue since you first got noticed as the tall blonde who rapped. Did you understand that some people in the U.S. would think you were fake?
Yeah, but it’s retarded. The Rolling Stones go to America, play “black” blues music, and nobody has a fucking issue with it or thinks it’s weird. But here we are, 50 years later, in the 21st century, and people are like, “This is so weird that you’re white, from another country, and you like black music.” Why is it not weird for Keith Richards or Mick Jagger, but it’s so weird and taboo for me? Do you think a kid liking my music is gonna make rap music some other thing, or that all of a sudden nobody’s gonna like Scarface?

The Rolling Stones weren’t above putting on a fake Southern accent:

I mean, as phony accents go, that one was about as hammy as it gets.

That being said, the Rolling Stones weren’t trying to be down with anyone at that point- they were basically making a joke.  I like the song, but I don’t think they were expecting it to be on any honky-tonk juke boxes.

I’ve never been a fan of the idea that someone has to be the exact person they portray themselves to be in their music.  Pretend all you want, I really don’t care as long as you do it well or you can make it amusing.  And it’s kind of ridiculous for rap listeners to complain about this since rappers faking Jamaican accents has been going on for decades- not on every song, but does that really matter?  I don’t know, maybe that’s why the Rolling Stones could get away with it.

I don’t know if I find Iggy amusing or not.  Her music is kind of odd.  I’ve made this point several times before, but rap, unlike pop, country, or even rock, requires you say some interesting things between the choruses but I feel like a lot of pop rappers disagree.  Or their producers disagree, that’s possible.

Iggy leans really heavily on growing up poor and coming to the USA at 16, working hard to make it a rapper:

That’s interesting but pretty much every rapper has made the same claim, to the degree that people who didn’t feel like they have to make it too.  Some day a rapper is going to have such skills that he or she can admit to coming from the suburbs and not ever having struggled and people will like that person’s music anyway and then the world will explode.

 

I’m not trying to make fun of someone’s struggle, it just strikes me as an odd thing to ask of the people who supply your entertainment.