Azealia Banks, Q-Tip address cultural appropriation

JORDANNAH ELIZABETH Special to the AmNews | 1/2/2015, 6 p.m.
There has been a racial battle boiling between hip-hop up-and-comers Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea for some time now.
Azealia Banks Contributed

There has been a racial battle boiling between hip-hop up-and-comers Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea for some time now. The Guardian reports that the early stages of the feud began in 2012, stating, “Their beefing began in 2012, and was born of fine distinctions over identity—some speculating it had to do with professional jealousy in a highly competitive niche market, others wondering whether the small-town Australian Azalea had in fact taken Harlem-born Banks’ name to burnish her cred. For her part, Banks said she was really angry about Azalea’s lyric in a song called ‘D.R.U.G.S.’ in which she referred to herself as a ‘runaway slave master.’ Although Azalea apologized, the beef has continued.”

In more recent times, their distaste for each other has grown into an all out racial spat, as Banks, who is Black, reiterated her problems with Azalea, who is white, on New York’s Hot 97 with Ebro Darden, Peter Rosenberg and Laura Stylez.

“Banks became uncharacteristically emotional during the exchange. She said: ‘I feel just like in this country whenever it comes to our things—like Black issues or Black politics or Black music or whatever—there’s this undercurrent of kinda like a f— you,’” the Guardian reported.

Q-Tip

Contributed

Q-Tip

Banks said that Azalea seemed to be ripping off Nikki Minaj’s “Reloaded” by titling her own album re-release “Reclassified.” Banks called it “cultural smudging,” her phrase for appropriation. Banks then took the Grammy Awards to task for its nomination of Azalea and awarding the rap record of the year to Macklemore, a moment that led Forbes to declare that “Hip-Hop Is Run by a White, Blonde, Australian Woman.”

The message to white kids, Banks said, “is, ‘You’re great. You’re amazing. You can do whatever you put your mind to.’ And it says to Black kids, ‘You don’t have s—. You don’t own s—, not even the s— you created yourself.’”

After Banks’ appearance on the show, the two female rappers took to Twitter, and their disagreement in perspective compelled legendary A Tribe Called Quest member Q-Tip to write a lengthy and enlightening history lesson, stating: “Hip-hop is an artistic and sociopolitical movement/culture that sprang from the disparate ghettos of New York in the early 1970s, coming off the heels of the Civil Rights Movement and approaching the end of the Vietnam War, it was a crossroads for America, especially for Blacks in the U.S., our neighborhoods were proliferated with a rush of heroine.”

He posted more than 40 tweets to the white female rapper, who found the veteran rapper’s outcry “patronizing.” She responded on Twitter, saying, “I find it patronizing to assume I have no knowledge of something I’m influenced by, but I’ve also grown up with strangers assuming that,” she added. “So it’s completely fine and I’m used to it by now. I don’t lose any sleep over it.”

It seems like Azalea can do nothing to truly identify or empathize with what the African-American artists are attempting to convey to her. Her air of coldness shows a level of insincerity and arrogance. To respond to an artist who has been in the rap game for more than 20 years in a nonchalant manner, and going as far as to accuse him of patronizing her, is disturbing.

There is nothing wrong with white rappers succeeding at their craft, but their domination in award ceremonies (i.e., Macklemore winning Grammys while hip-hop wunderkind Kendrick Lamar went home emptyhanded) reflects a misappropriation of the art that should be addressed.