Is Iggy Azalea Just Another White Performer Exploiting Black Music?

Iggy Azalea has been the target of backlash from several personalities in the hip-hop community, but her long-running feud with Azealia Banks made the news again recently. While at first the feud seemed petty and even nonsensical at times, for Banks this is all about racial appropriation. In an interview with the New York radio station Hot 97, Banks pretty much explained why she doesn’t think highly of Azalea.

“The Grammys are supposed to be awards for artistic excellence … Iggy Azalea’s not excellent. When they give these Grammys out, all it says to white kids 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.’ And it makes me upset.”

The issue of racial appropriation sparked debate throughout the hip-hop world. A lot of rappers have chimed in on Twitter to take sides between Azalea and Banks, but mostly it did generate healthy discourse about an important matter.

Hip-hop icon Q-Tip used Twitter as a platform to discuss the history of hip-hop to the feuding rappers. “Believe it or not young black n Latino lives specifically weren’t acknowledged in mainstream American culture unless of course … the convo was abt gangs, being criminals or uneducated,” he tweeted. “But Hip Hop showed that we had DEPTH, fire, and BRILLIANCE … the music was undeniable! It moved from NY N became national and even GLOBAL,” he added.

Q-Tip also explained that his tweets don’t mean that he’s taking sides with anyone. “This is not a chastisement this is not admonishment at ALL this is just one artist reaching to another hoping to spark insight into the field you r in. I say this in the spirit of a hopeful healthy dialogue that maybe one day we can continue.”

@IGGYAZALEA this is not a chastisement this is not admonishment at ALL this is just one artist reaching to another hoping to spark insight

— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) December 20, 2014

The issue is now more than just about two feuding rappers. With the recent development in the Azalea-Banks feud, the issue of how hip-hop is being misappropriated is finally in the spotlight for better or worse. Both sides have valid points, but only time will tell if the discourse generated by the drama will prove to be helpful. According to an article in Complex, this entirely leaves the fate of hip-hop in the hands of the next generation who will have to “fight to sustain hip-hop’s connection to black America’s socio-political reality.”