Yesterday, GQ published an interview with rapper Iggy Azalea profiling her intended comeback to the rap game with a new album, single, and seemingly new outlook on life and the music business. Unfortunately, it seemed Iggy’s experience as the rap internet’s favorite punching bag didn’t deter her from making some questionable comments regarding privilege that some are guaranteed to take offense to. However, rather than attacking Iggy for the comment, Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli instead did what a few others have tried to do and gently educate the Australia rap hopeful on her own country’s struggle with privilege and inequality.
Posting a screenshot from a blog that reported on the original article, the always-thoughtful Kweli added a simple, short question to his caption, hoping to prompt a little more research and self-awareness from the “Savior” rapper. “Can someone tell @thenewclassic abt aborigines and the struggle of ppl of color in Australia?” he asked, drawing the comparison between Australia’s history of colonialism with America’s. Similarly to America’s own pre-States era, Australia was already home to indigenous peoples who were displaced, oppressed, and nearly outright obliterated when Britain colonized the island nation in the 18th century.
As much as Iggy feels like people are picking on her just for being a white girl in hip-hop, it might benefit her to listen to what they’ve been trying to tell her rather than getting defensive over whether or not she “deserves” to be a rapper. She’s not even the first white, female rapper in hip-hop anyway, not by a long shot. The issue isn’t and has never been that she’s white, a female, or even the unfortunate Trina impression she uses when rapping. The fact is she obviously loves hip-hop and she clearly wants to benefit from it.
However, when she repeatedly makes statements that remind rap fans that she is an outsider and hasn’t confronted the benefits of being a pretty, white woman in the music business and acknowledged how it’s helped her, she is guaranteed to rankle fans who remember when mainstream America actively denied hip-hop’s legitimacy and tried to ban the “dangerous” art form. Until she does, it seems she will never lack for commentary from fans, peers, and elders who want her to use her platform to give back to the culture she loves so much.