Is Iggy Azalea The Modern Day Version Of A Performer In Black Face? 

    Azealia Banks, a Harlem-born rapper, singer and songwriter, made some controversial comments in a new interview with Pitchfork. Banks, known for speaking bluntly and openly about everything from her bisexuality to people she’s not feeling to her “Kunt Brigade” fan club, offers a diverse mix of sounds and styles in her music.

    Her debut single"212," first extended play1991 (2012), and first mixtape Fantasea (2012) received critical acclaim. She signed to Universal Records in 2012 and spent the next two years trying to get out of the deal.

    Banks' debut studio album Broke with Expensive Taste (2014) experienced several delays since its initial announcement before being unexpectedly released to online music stores.


    In a new interview with Pitchfork Magazine, Banks spit flames at white performers in the game, in particular the ones doing what would be traditionally described as “urban music” revealing that she believes white performers—specifically females—performing in traditionally black genres is "corny" and "regurgitated."

    Of course, the focus of her anger is hip-pop sensation Iggy Azalea from Australia, who has not only jacked her name (kind of), but has masterminded a musical machine that is rolling towards superstardom at Brad Keselowki speeds.

    Billboard's annual Songs of the Summer running tally tracks the most popular songs based on cumulative performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

    "Fancy" crowned the Hot 100 for seven weeks (beginning June 7, a week prior to the start of the Songs of the Summer 14-week tracking period), and dominated the Songs of the Summer chart wire-to-wire.

    Helping fuel its supremacy, the track remained in the weekly Hot 100's top five for another six weeks after its reign, making Azalea’s debut smash the first Song of the Summer to block all competitors from the weekly Songs of the Summer summit since Katy Perry's "California Gurls," featuring Snoop Dogg, the winner for 2010.

    Maybe that’s why Snoop went kamikaze on her in that expletive-filled Instagram rant. Seems like Iggy is putting the fear of “Whitney Houston at Grammy time” in everybody.

    "Fancy" is also the second debut hit to earn No. 1 Song of the Summer honors in the last three years, following Carly Rae Jespen's "Call Me Maybe" in 2012.

    We all know Azalea’s story by now. She’s a white girl from rural Australia raised in New South Wales town of Mullumbimby, a 3,000 person community. She came to the U.S. and lived out her dream of becoming famous. She developed a love for the art form at the age of 11 when she went on a road trip with her grandparents that started in Los Angeles, and by the age of 16 she had already devised a plan to remain in the U.S. and chase her dreams.

    Her producers and handlers taught her how to “sound” like a black rapper and lose the accent when laying down her music to sound more credible, relatable (and that old hip-hop must have) real.


    I’m not sure if it’s Iggy’s success that is pissing Banks off, or the fact that Azalea in essence is doing her version of modern-day black face and Banks is one of the few artists with a big enough voice to be able to point that out.

    White female rappers are becoming increasingly marketable and successful in their social media campaigns and attracting new fans of all ethnicities.

    Most people don’t analyze it this deep, but to some, it’s the beginning of a black music coup of sorts. Similar to how by the late 1970s Rock-N-Roll—black as night in DNA—eventually became considered “white” music.

    "It’ll be like, 'For a couple of years, we’re gonna fuck with blue-eyed soul, and here’s Duffy, here’s Adele'—who’s great—but now we’ve got a thousand White girls singing blue-eyed Soul,” Banks said. "It’s so regurgitated and corny. You have it in everything. You have it in indie rock. You’ll have Interpol, and then The National, and it’s just like, “Really, dude? Really?


    Social media opinion on white performers such as Iggy Azalea and Kreayshawn is mixed. As evidenced by their YouTube hits, which tend to be in the millions, they have a huge following and their presence incites opinion in every hip-hop fan whether it’s positive or negative.

    Some people have described it as a “bastardization of black culture…”


    v nasty


    Others say it’s the natural evolution of a powerful art form that originally satisfied a desire for youthful expression and diversity in a particular community and is taking its intended course –being shared and shaped by other cultures.

    "Or it’ll be like, 'We’re gonna pop off the White-girl rapper, so we’ll have Gwen Stefani and Fergie, and then it’ll get worse and worse and worse,” continues Banks. "And you’re just like, 'What the fuck is this?' The whole trend of White girls appropriating Black culture was so corny—it was more corny than it was offensive. Trust me, I’m not offended: All the things I’m trying to run away from in my Black American experience are all the things that they’re celebrating. So if they fuckin’ want them, have them; if they want to be considered over sexualized and ignorant every time they open their fucking mouth, then fucking take it.”


    “But more than that, the art is not good. These songs are not good. It’s like, 'Oh my God, you’re doing this Black woman impression, is that what the fuck you think of me, bitch? I need to meet the Black woman that you’re imitating because I’ve never met any Black woman who acts that bizarre.' It’s crazy that this becomes mainstream culture. All of America is celebrating shit like that. It’s so weird.”


    What do you think? Does Azealia Banks have a point ? Is the new trend of white female rappers a form of culture-jacking? Or is it showing love for a hip-hop culture that has taken over the globe. Is it just rotten apples because her album sales are not raising the roof? I personally think AB is dope and obviously she’s one of those musically-gifted artists who have to actually tone down their intellectual expression to meet the mainstream eye to eye.

    I just never heard a black woman express those criticisms of a white female rapper. Maybe it’s because she’s stealing all the good black men (she dates Lakers baller Nick Young)…idk… It’s sort of like when black rappers used to get all of the male, black acting jobs. It was frustrating to cats who spent their entire lives, honing their trade and trying to get one breakthrough role and then here comes DMX and Ja Rule and LL Cool J and Ice T cleaning up.

    It’s frustrating, however, you can’t deny the fact that T.I. found something with Iggy. She wasn’t the first white female rapper. Just the first one to blow like Eminem and enjoy all of the accolades and attacks that come with her success. Benzino tried it when he went at Detroit's finest and lost a career. 

    None of today's burgeoning white rap talents are on Eminem's level lyrically, but blasting white women in rap isn’t going to get Azealia Banks the kind of attention she needs to be getting for her incredible skills. I understand her being protective of her craft, but the problem with that is, she shares that craft with hundreds of millions of people, so it's guaranteed to always be changing.   



    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.