When asked about Forbes’ claim that hip-hop is run by a white, blond, Australian rapper named Iggy Azalea, incumbent queen bee Nicki Minaj laughed hysterically. The financial magazine may be qualified to calculate the $250 million valuation of Nicki’s Myx Fusions Moscato wine coolers, Nicki reasoned, but only the hip-hop community can bequeath the throne to Iggy.
One week later, Iggy Azalea became the only artist since the 1964 Beatles to have her first two singles occupy the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the fourth female emcee to hit No. 1 on the chart. Nicki has yet to claim the No. 1 spot.
However, the coronation of Iggy as one of the most successful rappers in history has occurred without much support from the imagined hip-hop community or from black people not invested in her brand. Funkmaster Flex has called her music “trash,” and Iggy’s hit singles have received little airplay on Top 40 “urban,” hip-hop radio stations. Reviews of her album The New Classic have beenlukewarm at best. Even XXL, which made her the first female inductee of the magazine’s Freshman Class, admits that the music doesn’t live up to the hype.
If Iggy isn’t a great rapper, why is she so popular? Is it her whiteness? And is her reign part of a larger industry plot to whitewash black music with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke?