Posts Tagged ‘NRC’

How to talk to white people about Iggy Azalea

Written by kCAne MarkCO on . Posted in Blog


Iggy Azalea - Irving Plaza NYC


First thing’s first: Iggy isn’t the realest.

That’s what many keen observers may have, in fact, correctly gleaned from Nicki Minaj’s candid remarks about “authenticity” during her BET Awards acceptance speech. But the rapper has repositioned her statements, saying the media “put words in her mouth” and that her spirited quips weren’t at all a diss to Iggy Azalea. Instead, according to Minaj’s tweets on Wednesday, she spoke out to “motivate” up-and-coming female emcees to keep pushing the pen to the paper, and to challenge a male-dominated industry.

But it still sounds as though Minaj is throwing at least a few drops of shade.

Minaj tweeted, “I fell in love with Lauryn Hill b/c I knew she was the author behind those amazingly profound and articulated songs on the MisEducation … It’s the same reason I have a different level of respect for Missy. I know she’s a writer and a producer. Women MUST aspire for more.” Her words respectfully acknowledged two legendary black female rappers, creating what’s known as a “compliment sandwich” as she addressed Iggy Azalea, who has been said to not write her own rhymes—perhaps one of the most cardinal offenses within rap music.

“I’ve congratulated Iggy on the success of ‘Fancy,’ publicly. She should be very proud of that. All the women nominated should b proud,” she said, notably without any of the high praise given to Lauryn and Missy’s lyrical genius, before closing with why she will keep encouraging women to write.

In case you weren’t following, Nicki’s mention of Iggy’s “success” is the meaty criticism sandwiched between the golden buns. It’s also a formula many other writers and music critics adopt while discussing Iggy’s demerits as a female rapper and cultural appropriator.

Depending on who you ask, including an offbeat piece from Forbes, rap’s “Fancy” new starlet is now dominating the entire genre, especially since she’s now the female rapper ever with the longest reign atop the Billboard Hot 100—a record previously held by Lil’ Kim and a peak never reached by even Minaj’s pop-crossover hits “Starships” and “Super Bass.”

Although Forbes eventually backpedaled, it’s a sentiment about Iggy that now resonates with many—and has even made Nicki sneer. That’s why many other black female artists and emcees such as Rah Digga, K. Michelle, and Azealia Banks go out of their way to express disapproval of Azalea’s antics.

At the BET Awards earlier this week, Azalea was the only other person nominated who could’ve even possibly beat out Nicki Minaj for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. Given the recent trend of white artists dominating Rap/Hip-Hop and R&B categories at virtually every major awards show, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Iggy Azalea had bested Minaj, let alone at a ceremony that expressly celebrates African-American music and culture.

But it seems as though every time conversations crop up about Iggy Azalea, Macklemore, or even Robin Thicke’s appropriating ways, the vocal critics get panned—mainly by white people—as a horde of racists for “attacking” their participation in black artforms, no matter how intrinsically rooted they are to black experiences.

The upset usually reaches a fever pitch because white rappers like Iggy Azalea get away with appropriating Blackness, ripping off everything but the social and institutional indignities rooted in the black experiences that lead to the creation of hip-hop.

But, more often than not, the conversation delves into a minefield of these potential impasses:

1. “So what if they rap or sing like black people?”
Contrary to most media narratives, black people don’t all speak the same way. Our sayings, dialects, and even vocal dynamics may bear common roots, but are heavily influenced by life experiences, education and regional differences. Even in hip-hop, artists like Trina, Eve and Da Brat have exhibited a variety styles and flow. .

Even though Macklemore arguably uses and abuses the white privilege he’s fully aware of having within hip-hop and popular music, he at rhymes using the vocal dynamics derived from his lived reality. Iggy Azalea’s natural speaking voice is actually the sugary-sweet, rural Australian accent she grew up with—not the grungy, Southern “blaccent” she adopts for the sake of rapping.

2. “You’re just hating on them because they’re more successful.”
The real question here isn’t about the hard numbers, but even those figures currently side against Iggy. A look at the numbers tells a completely different story. Although Iggy Azalea is the queen of the Billboard’s Hot 100, a throne many black female emcees have never gotten the chance to sit upon, she has yet to match their sales figures and business ventures. Queen Latifah doesn’t rap as much anymore, but her career of more than 20 years includes talk shows, TV series such as Living Single, product endorsement deals, acting roles and even an Academy-Award nomination for “Chicago.” As for Nicki Minaj, her debut of “Pink Friday” moved 375,000 copies in its first week, compared to 52,000 for Iggy’s “The New Classic.”

But fans should instead ask about and, eventually, acknowledge the conditions that allow white rappers like Iggy Azalea to reach such stratospheric levels of popularity. More specifically, Iggy Azalea’s public image merits examination as one that mainstream white American audiences consume voraciously at the expense and exclusion of her black counterparts. She makes money and breaks records, largely in part, because she’s a blonde, white, foreign woman who’s doing the new “hip” thing, even if her act may be a bit recycled.

3. “You’re racist for suggesting that white people can’t participate in rap.”
Sure, she can. However, there’s a difference between appreciating an artform and adding to its richness and appropriating a minstrel-like caricature that’s composed of various tropes. With Azalea, it’s the obsession over her curvaceous cakes, the “blaccent,” and an overidentification with the abject poverty disproportionately encountered by black folks, as seen in her video for “Work.”

In the entertainment business, almost all of the stars have highly manicured public fronts that have been calculated for their profitability. It applies to rap, but only to a certain extent. Perhaps if Azalea were instead centering her raps on topics such as growing up in Mullumbimby, Australia, and doing it with her own accent, maybe we’d be looking at her differently—or not at all.

4. “But they had help from a black artist, so that gives them credibility.”
T.I. deserves all the credit for mentoring Iggy, but that’s not where his culpability ends.

Just as he profits from the offensive nature and history of Native appropriation via his Grand Hustle label and merchandise, T.I. does the same by enabling white artists like Robin Thicke and Iggy Azalea to rip off blacks with impunity.

Last fall, T.I., Thicke, and Pharrell preemptively sued Marvin Gaye’s family over “Blurred Lines,” after the late-singer’s estate claimed the trio ripped off the sound of Gaye’s hit “Got To Give It Up.” Gaye’s family eventually countersued all parties involved and, earlier this year, reached a settlement with music publisher Sony/ATV. The other battles continue.

T.I. has a similar relationship with Iggy Azalea, often helping her fend off scorn about her lack of authenticity. While discussing the infamous Forbes article in an interview, T.I. said, “She is running this moment in hip-hop, but to say running [hip-hop]; that’s a very broad statement. Although I feel eventually that is the outcome.”

5. “Black people should be flattered that someone’s singing and appreciates their music.”
The success and vitality of black-created genres doesn’t depend on white people performing the music, especially when it’s been pillaged and stolen for decades. As noted in in considerable detail over at Racialicious, various white icons and their hits—including Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”, Madonna’s “Vogue” and, yes, “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus, to name a few—all are culprits. Despite the history cultural theft, black artists like Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson and Jay-Z have smashed Billboard records, sold out concert venues worldwide and influencing many white artists who acknowledge and truly appreciate the genres—artists like Adele, Duffy and Sam Smith.

If nothing else, at least their voices and lyrics are theirs.

Derrick Clifton is a Chicago-based journalist and writer primarily covering race, gender and LGBT issues, and their intersections with politics. Follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, or visit for more information on his work.

Photo via Laura Murray/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Written by kCAne MarkCO on . Posted in Music

May 26, 2013
Logansport hip-hop artist tours for bullying awareness
by Mitchell Kirk

A Logansport man is using his talents in rap and hip-hop music to speak out against bullying across the Midwest.

Adron Robinson, or A1 da Last Drop as he’s known musically, started taking music seriously in 2007, a year after moving to Logansport. The Cape Coral, Fla., native said he experimented with music in the past with friends during his time in the U.S. Army but took time off for a while before creating mix tapes and making an effort to prepare radio-ready music.

“My music is my truths, my life and the world as I see it,” Robinson said, adding that his songs fall into the genres of hip-hop and hip-rock.

In the summer of 2012, Robinson was approached by former St. Louis, Mo artist and producer kCAne MarkCO, owner of NuORder ENTertainmENT. Robinson joined the group, which represents artists all over the country.

Shortly after Robinson joined NuORder, MarkCO teamed up with Oliver “DjBigO317” Jackson, owner of South Bend and Indianapolis-based Trucker Bangin Ent. LLC, to use music to address bullying in what they would come to call the Anti-Bullying Bully Basher Tour.

“They came up with the idea watching the news and just staying up on everything that’s going on,” Robinson said. “They came to us [and said], ‘Look, everybody wants to be focused with this music, well let’s put this music toward something to help out the people. Get out there and speak out, get out there and go talk to some of these kids that have been bullied …’ We were all down for it.”

The tour kicked off in February, hitting schools and colleges in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and other states across the Midwest. It’s most recent stop was May 10 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.

A typical tour stop will consist of performances, individual lectures where performers will share their own experiences with bullies and meet-and-greets after the show, Robinson said.

“We can make a change as far as kids go,” Jackson said. “When they hear them say, ‘I was a victim of being bullied,’ the gym goes quiet. They’re big dudes. The kids could kind of relate. It doesn’t matter what size you are, it happens to everybody. It doesn’t make a difference what you are, if you’re new, if you’re a freshman; there are people who have nothing better to do than bully.”

When Robinson speaks to students about his own experiences with bullies, he tells them about growing up in Cape Coral, Fla., where he said his small stature and minority status led to him being a target for tormentors.

“Right now, I’m 6 feet, 185 pounds,” Robinson said. “When I was younger, it took a while before I hit my growth spurt. I was always one of the smaller children … Me and a few of the Hispanic people were minorities and we got picked on. We got jumped at the school bus, we got chased by people in trucks with bats.”

While Robinson affirms there are times when one may be forced to defend him or herself, he said physicality should always be a last resort.

“I came to recognize that most bullies were some of the most scared people,” he said. “They lacked a lot of confidence. They might have had a bad home life so they take it out on other people.”

The tour will continue into the summer, with upcoming stops in Washington, D.C., Kokomo, Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City.

Robinson will also be performing in a Thanks-A-Million Military Appreciation Showcase in collaboration with The Anti-Bullying Bully Basher Tour at the Logansport Eagles Saturday, June 1. The show will be 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Robinson said he is currently looking for more acts to add to the show and any interested parties can contact him at 574-398-7401.

You can check out Robinson’s music at and by visiting and clicking on Hip-hop under the Mix tapes section. He performs on a mix tape titled “NuOrder The Mixtape.”

“To me, my music is one of the best things I have to give the world,” Robinson said. “If I can’t use that in a positive way, then I’d feel like I was wasting it.”