When someone mentions Iggy Azalea’s name, you’re likely to get one of two reactions-sheer annoyance, or utter excitement. While I don’t personally know anyone whose face lights up at the mention of the rapper’s name, (I’m not friends with any tween girls), I’m sure there is SOMEONE out there who really enjoys Iggy’s music. And while it’s true that Iggy Azalea has become a mega popstar over the last year, it’s also become painfully obvious that most Black people think she’s a joke…everybody except T.I. apparently. Because I think Iggy has gotten enough honest feedback about how bad of an artist she is, I try not to make a habit of taking unnecessary digs at the rapper, but today, after reading an article from the Washington Post entitled “How Iggy Azalea Mastered Her ‘blaccent’”, if I don’t talk about the huge elephant in the room, I might implode.
Iggy has a “blaccent.” We all know it. I mean, it’s not hard to spot. Amethyst Amelia Kelly is a 25 year old woman who was born in Sydney, Australia, and long story short-she doesn’t rap like it. Rather, she raps like she grew up here, on the West side of Atlanta, Georgia.
That’s become a problem for many Black people, myself included, because it appears that Iggy is simply doing a poor job…(or a good job, according to the Washington Post) of impersonating Black people, and making millions of dollars doing it.
Azalea doesn’t seem to have much of a point of view. She raps about hip-hop tropes such as being the “realest” and the “murda bizness.” Her 2014 album “The New Classic,” received a mixed 56 out of a 100 on Metacritic, with some calling it a “schtick” and “heavily manufactured.”
As I continued reading the article, I didn’t know if I was more annoyed at Iggy Azalea for her shallow interpretation of Blackness, or at the fact that someone had actually taken the time to analyze Iggy’s “blaccent.”
Via Washington Post–
But if she’s an appropriator, Azalea is at least not a sloppy one. Azalea knows exactly when to dip into the drawl, and when a drawl would sound inauthentic. You can hear the difference at the beginning of “Change Your Life”:
You used to dealing with basic [people]
Basic [stuff] all the time
I’m a new classic, upgrade your status
From a standby to a frequent flyer
Pop out your past life, and I’ll renovate your future
It’s not just the way that Azalea forms the words in her mouth. The research finds that her lyrics also demonstrate styles of grammar that are common in AAE, but hard for outsiders to pick up on. Here are three examples.
— Tricky usage of “ain’t”: This word is well-known as a substitute for “are not” or “is not”: “I ain’t going there,” for instance, or “He ain’t your friend.” But the linguists find that Azalea deploys “ain’t” in a rarer way, to indicate past events that never happened. She says things like “He ain’t even graduate.”
— Remote past “BEEN”: Azalea also correctly uses a grammatical construction that linguists call “remote past BEEN,” which indicates that a situation has been continuing for a long time. This is a feature that speakers of standard English often misinterpret. In 1975, Stanford’s Rickford, then at the University of Pennsylvania, gave a survey to black and white English speakers. Among the questions was this one:
Someone asked, “Is she married?” and someone else answered, “She BIN married.” Do you get the idea that she is married now?
To most of the white people in the study, that sentence meant that the woman was once married but not anymore. To nearly all of the black people, it meant that the woman had been married for a while and continued to be married.
Azalea correctly uses this expression in her song “Lady Patra.” The meaning here, with stress on the word been, is that Azalea has long been rich, not that she lost a fortune and regained it.
*Screams in Black*
Here’s the thing…I don’t care how well Iggy FAKES her blaccent. It still doesn’t make us Black people feel good about it. Granted, Hip Hop is universal. I appreciate the fact that people from other cultures and races have embraced it in such a major way. But what I also want to make sure everyone understands is that it never feels good to feel like you’re being taken for a ride. Black people want authenticity. Why do you think we love Eminem? Because Eminem is a problem child from a trailer park community on 8 Mile Rd in Detroit, Michigan who speaks his truth in his records-and he does it WELL.
And no, you don’t have to come from the projects or a trailer home to be considered an authentic rapper, but you DO have to have your own story to tell, your own lyrics and your own damn accent. THAT GOES FOR EVERYBODY.
But after WaPo‘s article, I’m not exactly sure WHERE Iggy’s career stands. However, in MY (always) humble opinion, *coughs* Iggy’s career is headed nowhere fast. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But basically what I want to say to the author of this article is: IGGY HASN’T MASTERED SHIT!!! The article was pretty anti-Black if you ask me. And if you need a reminder of how little Iggy’s mastered of ANY damn thing, rap included, take a look-see below.
“I don’t think the voice makes me fake; it makes me an artist,” Azalea, who speaks in an Australian accent for interviews told Complex in 2013. “Voice is my medium. I should have creative rein to do whatever the [heck] I want with it.”
Maybe her career isn’t over after all…perhaps she can go into theater?