I came across the soundtrack of the Panther movie called Freedom and the opening scene stayed with me. Imagine, Eight dark skinned females facing Five dark skinned males. Six of them have afros of different sizes ranging from small to explosive. Three of them stand with children in their arms or on their hips while One of them says:
“We want full fledged membership of the black panther party. None of that okay sugar, as long as you play the background n’ gettin’ ma beer and rubbin my feet bulls***t either. You dig?”
I do. I really do.
Recently Forbes wrote an article and titled it “Hip Hop Is Run By A White, Blonde, Australian Woman” The “White, blonde Australian Woman” in reference is called Iggy Azalea. I had a great laugh after sharing the article on facebook, and seeing my friend comment saying,”who is this Iggy Hibiscus?”
Renaming her “Iggy Hibiscus” was hilarious. But even more hilarious, was the reality that Iggy Azalea might actually not be as popular as Forbes assumes. However, the point is that Forbes believes she “runs” Hip-Hop because she is “popular.” So rather than going into her expertise on the art of rap or her knowledge on its history, before comparing it to the skill of any other rap artist (female or male), I will focus on this idea of her “popularity.” As Clutch magazine highlights, the crux of the Forbes article was simply a message about Iggy Azalea’s outstanding and “unexpected” success story:
“Iggy Azalea is one of hip hop’s most exciting new artists, as well as one of the genre’s most unexpected success stories. Her rise to prominence is notable not only for what seems like its immediacy, but for how infrequently someone like her makes it to the top. If you’re not keeping up to date on your rap culture or much into top 40 radio, you should know that she is not your typical hip hop star.Just a few weeks ago, her album “The New Classic”became the highest charting debut album by a female rapper since Nicki Minaj back in 2010, starting at number three. The position is impressive considering she is a brand new name in this country, and she had only achieved her first top 40 hit a few weeks prior.
In addition to her album’s success, just this past charting week she also became the first woman in hip hop to have two simultaneous hits in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100. Her single “Fancy (ft. Charli XCX)” has quickly risen the ranks to number three, and she is featured on the new Ariana Grande cut “Problem”, which debuted at the same ranking last week and is presently sitting at number four. It is rare for any artist to achieve such a feat, let alone a female rapper.”
At this point in the article, I’m picturing Iggy Azalea carrying a Forbes trophy, while embracing the new and exciting Nigerian phrase “H’i Never esperred it. Honestly, it would even be more exciting if she produced a new “Hip-Hop” remix to the popular “H’i never esperred it Remix” track
Yah, I get it- Iggy Azalea is a great rap artist with mad rap skills a great sounding flow in my opinion. But the real question here is if Iggy Azalea really “never esperred it”. In other words, does fame and success come so surprisingly and “unexpected” to a slim, blonde professional female model (more specifically, the face of Levi Jeans) turned female rapper? Let’s also not forget she is not black.Is it uncommon to witness the mainstream media fall at the knees of a female singing about sex and pu$$y as an asset to male ego?
In her first hit song “Pu$$y,” the director’s camera and the artist’s performance produce scenes that emphasize how palatable Iggy Azalea is to the men (and dogs) around her.
I have to admit, that screenshot was one of the saddest indicators of our obsession with trends and our blind pursuit for a flawed “excellence.”
To me that was a sexualization of a young child by teaching him to own his natural role as Master, Lord and/or P.I.M.P:All four minutes of the video create an Ode to his existence, showing gratitude through servitude. What many call “excellence” and “perfection” are focused on using already established institutions-built in a racist and sexist past- to reproduce values that are perfect for multiplying capital, but ,harmful to any progress towards equality or any efforts to improve human appreciation and eradicate inter-sectional inequality.
Yes, Iggy Azalea is popular because her product-her Pu$$y- is not presented differently. Therefore, it does not disrupt any patriarchal norms. She is not singing to other women about the benefits of having what she is offering, she is merely asking for a seat at the patriarchal table and offering herself as a perfect object by saying:
Hey, I want what you want, we’re on the same side here. Look at me, I’m just like you so I’m not threatening and disruptive. Therefore, I qualify to be as popular as you have been.
I also understand that there is a very blurry partition between the disruption of female sexuality and the objectification of the female body but Iggy Azalea’s video of “Pu$$y” is far away from disruptive. Infact, all Iggy Azalea has helped helps the patriarchy breathe loudly in my ear and spit heavily on my face about how much women “just like me” actually like it.
Unfortunately, Azalea who produced the song is not in the subject of her words or her video because that boy’s gaze is ever present, ever judging and ever rating. I mean, Shawty always has to be a ten right? and of course, bae can never catch me slippin!
So when Forbes says,
Her rise to prominence is notable not only for what seems like its immediacy, but for how infrequently someone like her makes it to the top
I wonder what makes “someone like her” so “infrequent” and “unexpected”. Is it because the beautiful progress of racial diversity within music. If this diversity is such a huge leap out of racism, why is it mostly when white artists join genres that consist of predominantly black artists that this diversity is embraced and celebrated. Perhaps, it is like a breath of fresh air from what was formerly blaclaustrophobia (made up word to describe one’s paranoia around too many black people).
This should not really be surprising after the Oxford dictionary endorsed twerk as an official word soon after Miley’s VMA performance. The last time I got this angry was when ABC came up with a scientific explanation for twerking after Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. Of course, there must be a scientific explanation for the vibrations of the but cheeks and the muscular hip jerks that produce what it called a “twerk.” However, this definition is unnecessary when passing by a usual black female body, simply being a “hoe;” no explanations are needed for the “hoe” does not have the ability to analyse her movements nor the agency to own her intentions. Her body is not hers to understand, it is yours to critic if unpleasing and possess if pleasing. Therefore, with black bodies, there comes an unspoken treaty of servitude that puts their every butt vibration ( A.K.A. twerk) in an unreasonable, and merely desperate attempt at attracting the white male gaze.
This is why, when books are written to help women “Lean In” or articles asking for females to close the confidence gap, I do not know how to react to the one sided reiteration of female empowerment without educating the male perpetrators . I admit that females need to lean in and be more confident, but we must not reproduce what Ivan Illich calls “Modernized Poverty;”
Modernized poverty combines the lack of power over circumstances with a loss of personal potency.
In the song “Freedom”, Queen Latifah sings:
“I aint no old hag. I represent in the kitchen, in the bedroom but also in the board room so give me more room”
In a bid to reject this internalization of impotence, Queen Latifah recognizes her present roles, projects into her interested goals and reveals her current limitations.
At this point, I could delve into Macklemore’s case concerning Kendrick Lamar, but I’ll do better and give you art that is not designed to be popular but to be disruptive and revolutionary. I’ll give you Freedom.
Now, this is the kind of song that I never experred to be “popular” and judging by the fact that I only came across this song today, I believe it fulfilled my expectations. So thank you Forbes, but no thank you for your measures of success, I’ll stick with my #EmoART because it’s the better one for my rights.