What Black Music Should Know about Iggy Azelea’s Success



Don’t Blame the Music Industry…

“Hip Hop is getting whiter” says a headline in yesterday’s Daily News. Who knew? The paper is obviously stating this to draw ire and they did.Iggy Azelea is a 24-year-old Australian born woman who wanted to know what it would be like to live in America. I’ve heard her say this repeatedly in several interviews… I’ve rarely heard her say “I grew up loving hip-hop music and I wanted to be a hip-hop music star.” She is indeed everything that hip-hop music is USUALLY not. She’s the quintessential rags to riches success story and in just 4 short years? She left the security of her Australian roots and moved to Miami where she cleaned hotel rooms (maid). That was in 2010, 4 years later she is at the top of the charts and reigning queen of the Hip Hop genre with a song Fancy that has the most simple instrumentation and if you didn’t see a performer you would think it was a black girl from down south. America the beautiful that place where you can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be, right? The song is quite simple and reminds of Khia’s hit “My Neck, My Back” several years ago but unlike Khia, Iggy is at the top of the charts to stay. She is a beautiful white woman who connects with fans both domestic and internationally in a way that black rap artists have rarely been able to as long as they don’t have total control. Let’s face it, Iggy is brilliant at emulating black culture, she is in a long line of other white rappers, DJs, radio announcers, singers, producers etc who have also had the advantage leaving black talent wondering what the hell happened to me?  When you listen to Iggy (a very ethnic name that was the family dog name when she was a little girl but we will offer credit because the dog was probably named after the rock star Iggy Pop) talk, her use of the English language is miles away from the way she raps. Without question, this woman can sit at a table and handle business without a problem. She has great communication skills but who in the hell is the person rapping and if that woman rapping was a poor black girl from the south how well could she handle a business meeting? This is causing an uproar, at least for those who are not familiar with the way the music industry works but why? Billboard is getting hit again by Hip Hip fans who are screaming a white woman who is not a true hip-hop music artist is dominating the hip-hop music charts leaving the true purveyors of hip-hop music scratching their heads. Billboard magazine is not someone that we voted into office they are an industry trade publication reporting on trends. They can do and say whatever they want in THEIR magazine. In addition, this is not the first time this has happened and for many reasons, it won’t be the last. Ask Patti LaBelle how it felt to see Celine Dion take her song “If you Asked Me To” and make it a huge pop hit covering ground where Patti could never go after years of success as an artist. Go back further and ask Chuck Berry about Elvis Presley, Ask the Jackson 5 about the Osmonds, ask New Edition about New Kids on the Block etc etc etc. The music industry has ALWAYS been about supply and demand and while many fans want to blame the music industry. I absolutely do not blame the music industry it’s a business and a great business seeks out trends and capitalizes off of them.  This is why Apple purchased Beats. If Billboard Magazine had a black competing publication would Iggy be at the top of those charts too? If radio was owned by a black corporation would Iggy be at the top of the charts…. Oh, I’m gonna leave that one alone.This morning film director Reginald Hudlin posted something on my FaceBook page that said it best… “Since black folks do not build institutions to protect and honor their culture, there will just be grousing and nothing more. Business as usual.” Reggie REALLY broke it down here with some church-going truth. We absolutely GIVE away our ideas and concepts then get mad when people use them?  Where are the contracts and agreements? Where are the organizations, conferences, where are the labels and entities that state who runs and owns hip-hop music and R&B genres? Country music, Rock and Roll and Conservative Talk Radio have MANY ancillary products to help brand them as the dominant force but where are ours? Did we even celebrate Black Music Month?  There is no evil wizard behind the curtain who is looking for ways to rob black musicians blind,  The onus is on US to protect what we own. This story could go on forever but it’s pretty simple, if we don’t own it, prove we own it, invest financially in it or buy it… we don’t own it. KUDOS to T.I. for at least being associated with it. We must continue to get better at doing business. Your thoughts? Comment below

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  1. Your line about TI at least being associated with hip-pop is exactly how I felt when I first learned of Iggy. I totally agree with your points in this piece. With that, we (me included) can comment and complain forever, but until MORE of us take heed to Mr. Hudlin’s the “call to action”: “build institutions to protect and honor [our] culture… [it is simply Wednesday, June 25th] business as usual.”


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