The voltage of my existence may never go beyond my ability to comfortably afford public transport. Think of that “I want to win a championship” Brad Pitt speech in Moneyball. Now think of the opposite of that speech; that’s my life. All I’m trying to do is not go broke, get fat, depressed or pregnant. That’s my bar.
Which is why I’m glad Iggy Azalea exists.* Not too often do I go “how the hell?” but that’s what the “Fancy” singers sonic and physical incongruence warranted. Is she half black? Nope, from Mullumbimby Australia. My two hours of googling and youtubeing brought me to ‘Work’, which sounds like Eve and looks like Ciara.
“Im been up all night, Tryna get that Rich, work work workn on my shit”
Me like. Watching countless Iggy interviews (about 5) I was hoping the outback beauty would articulate justification for her cultural appropriation. Not the case. She deftly avoids any admonition for adopting the vernacular of a racial subgroup for financial gain (Specifically, Atlanta).
I am at a bar/café right now, one where the constituents are predominantly tatted and label their diets. I am geared in my hipster boots and tortured soul. The man beside me just used the phrase “Dawkins posits” in casual conversation.
During a GQ interview with NBA boyfriend Nick Young she quips “No Nick can’t rap, that’d be like me trying to play basketball”. A 5’10 athletic woman playing basketball is within the realm of plausibility as is an NBA player rapping. Iggy is nay aware of these likelihoods.
The fact she’s publicly dating an NBA player indicates she’s aware of her need to maintain a semblance of offstage congruence to her onstage persona. If she were to swap Nick Young for a Hemsworth brother her career would surely falter. You can’t spit “pledge allegiance to the struggle” then frolic with Thor.
Other than the fact she has thick legs, tiny waist, big ass (huge points) the crux of her stardom seems to be by association: T.I. the driving force of her fame. How much influence he has is not clear, but it’s there and it’s essential.
If you like Iggy Azalea then you enjoy the song “Fancy”. If you dislike Iggy Azalea its because you believe that authenticity matters. You believe artists can be disingenuous even in a superfluous idiom such as pop culture. But here’s why the concept of Iggy Azalea can be intellectually justified: Even though she’s not a game changer in the rap world by directly imitating it, she’s a game changer in the personal identity world. The predictive potential of her being a successful rapper at time of birth was zero percent. She exalted 100 percent intellectual agency over constructing her livelihood. She’s certainly not a working class hero or bastion of economic mobility but she’s managed to manoeuvre out of a life her biology would’ve dictated. This type of transformation is a positive direction for society. Yes ‘society’ is one of those amorphous terms that breeds banalities but Iggy cannot exist in isolation. If you believe the magnitude of Iggy’s lifestyle branding doesn’t reach beyond her own bank account, than you’re missing the bigger picture.
And though the mental image primed when I say ‘rapper’ is still more easily accessible than most other jobs (other than ones that directly depend on physique like athlete, ballerina, mime, etc.) at least Iggy slightly abolishes preconceived notions. Art and ALL WORK should be judged independently of the vehicle that produces it. Fancy and Work are good songs, independent of pigment.
Iggy gets to the core of any argument concerning validity with her direct and simple message in countless interviews (about 5) “Im making money from rapping, I wouldn’t be making money if I wasn’t giving people something they enjoy”. And I suspect she will reiterate this phrase until she convinces the world of her place in it.
However the argument she touches on tangentially when she says “culture doesn’t have a colour”is perhaps the most accidentally metaphorical. Here’s a quote
from a post I did in 2012 about Basketball and hip hop
“What do Nike and MJ have to do with hip hop? The ascendancy of hip hop is akin to a “virtually unknown black guy selling shoes to white America”.In terms of progress, no other type of music has become more prevalent in the past 25 years. Pop stars and rockstars have been the norm, now there are rap stars. And rap stars are as groundbreaking as a signature celebrity shoes in the 80′s. For the hero worship youth, rappers project the coveted cool ethos and therefore act as the templates for imitation and identity association.”
Alright, yes I just quoted myself. But considering I used the phrase “cultural appropriation”earlier in this post I figured Ide reached the pretentious plateau. Editor in Chief/Chief Beauty Consultant sister Danielle notes that this theory is nothing new. She says it came to prominence in the early 90s when Tommy Hilfiger became popular with urban blacks which then influenced suburban whites to start wearing it. Google finds me this:
“Like so much of cool hunting, Hilfiger’s marketing journey feeds off the alienation at the heart of America’s race relations: selling white youth on their fetishization of black style, and black youth on their fetishization of white wealth.”
Pretentious apex shattered. I concede EC/CBC sister Danielle’s point. But Im also suggesting (clears throat, “positing”, if you will) that its getting increasingly difficult to decipher rap and hip hop influence because its the dominant paradigm. Basically, rap and hip hop has become so prevalent it is no longer a subculture. It IS culture. Ubiquity diminishes geneses.
Iggy makes a flippant comment in one of her interviews “If people have a problem with me rapping then they should grab a guitar and put out a country album” The thought of Jay Z singing achey breaky heart is ridiculous borderline humorous. But its not so ridiculous for Billy Rays Hannah Montana daughter Miley Cyrus to have Wiz Kafhila and Juicy J on her album? Like I said: Hip hop culture has become so pervasive it’s eroding its provenance. Perhaps in ten years when an Australian puts out a record with an Atlanta swag lexicon no one will notice.
You can be whatever you want to be, even a rapper from Atlanta, you just have to work….nah get this work.
* Am I qualified to write a post about music? No. But am I qualified to write about a white girl who thinks she’s black? Perhaps you’ve never seen me dance. Im overqualified.