When you live in a society that places celebrities on a pedestal, it's easy to forget that they are actual human beings, with human feelings. Case in point: Iggy Azalea, who received such a tremendous wave of backlash over alleged “cultural appropriation” last year (among various other complaints) that she actually considered ending her life, as she told Los Angeles radio station Power 106 in an interview Friday:
“There were times when I just wanted to quit life, the whole thing,” said Azalea, who added, after being asked directly whether she ever felt suicidal: “Sometimes I did. Sometimes I would drive through the canyons to get to my horses and I would be like, ‘What if I just kept driving off the canyon?” Sometimes I would feel like that.”
Cultural critiques of Azalea's work are a valid and welcome part of the increasingly-mainstream conversation around appropriation — I'm not personally a fan of her music — but there was something incredibly off-putting about the meanspiritedness of the backlash against the rapper, who went from record-setting hitmaker to pariah in the span of only a couple of years. The arguable nadir arrived in May of last year, when Azalea called off her first-ever arena tour due to what some alleged to be low ticket sales (Azalea herself cited a “creative change of heart” for the cancellation).
“[There were] so many times that it was like, 'that's the lowest [things are going to get],” she told Power 106 of the bleak period. “And [then] it was like, no, no, we're going a little lower.”
It's one thing to criticize the work itself, but during the height of the backlash there was something personal and ugly about many of the attacks directed at Azalea (no doubt heightened by her gender, though that's a separate conversation). As she told Power during the interview, it didn't help that even the people around her began questioning — either overtly or covertly –whether her career was finished.
“It wasn't the comments. It was that people made it seem — and it's like, people in the industry that I work with too — like, 'oh, this is it for your career now, so what are you gonna do?' And you know, I live in this country on a work visa, so if I don't have a job that means I go home, and my whole life is here, so that's a lot for somebody to deal with. I've spent a decade living in America, and for somebody to come — when I didn't really feel like I did anything to be deserving of that much hate — to be like, 'okay, now we're taking everything from you. What you do, your friends, everything could be totally gone.' That's a lot. And it can make a person feel like, 'well, what do I have left to live for?'”
Like most of us, Iggy Azalea is not Teflon. To have your entire career called into question is one thing, but to have it called into question on such a massive and public scale is unimaginable. There is a lesson to be taken from her confession today that will inevitably get lost in the next round of hate, but it's nevertheless worth repeating, as banal as it sounds: we all need to be kinder to one another. The Azalea case is just one very high-profile example of why that could mean the difference between someone living and dying.
You can watch the relevant portion of the interview below, and listen to Azalea's new single “Team” further down the page. Her next album, Digital Distortion, is expected later this year. (via The Wrap)