Azealia vs. Azalea: The Twitter Beef That Asks The Question “Is There White Privilege In Hip Hop?”


Christian Santiago, Staff Writer

After the decision on the Eric Garner case, Brooklyn rapper Azealia Banks took to twitter to express her anger over the decision, along with many others. But then she started to take shots at Australian rapper Iggy Azealia, calling her out on her absence in racial issues. Many other artists decided to put their hat in the ring, with T.I. defending Iggy Azealia and Tyler, The Creator and Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest praising Banks’ boldness. This feud has brought an interesting question that many hip hop fans have been asking for years, Is there White Privilege in Hip Hop?

To understand this question, we have to first ask what is White Privilege. According to Wikipedia, white privilege is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. The white privilege debate has been a popular debate for a long time, with people pointing to the L.A. Riots and Ferguson as prime examples of white privilege, or people “getting away” with crimes because their skin color is white. But white privilege is also the little things, like not being stopped by police because of your skin color.

The question of white privilege in hip hop was raised when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis swept the Grammy’s last year, beating out competitors like Kanye West, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar. “Don’t get it twisted, I wanted to win some Grammy’s…but I didn’t think we had the best hip hop album of that year” Macklemore stated on Hot 97 last month. And in a hip hop perspective, it’s true. good kid, M.A.A.D. City was a much more creative and influential album than The Heist. So this brings up the question: why does Macklemore get radio play while Kendrick doesn’t? Why do parents let their kids listen to Macklemore, who admits he says things most rappers say anyway, but parents won’t let them listen to Kanye?

A lot of people are offended by Iggy Azalea, but this has nothing to do with anything she has said. (Except for some old racist tweets, but that’s a different story). Critics see her voice as a new form of black face; her normal voice is a very thick Australian accent but when she raps she drops it for an accent that sounds like she’s straight out of Atlanta. She doesn’t write most of her raps, or more specifically when she writes she has a team of ghostwriters behind her, so people don’t see her grinding as hard as other artists. She seems to gravitate more to pop than rap, and some people are infuriated by her success as a rapper. Another reason why many seem to hate her is that she doesn’t have the skills of a real MC. What I mean is, there are many times where she tries to freestyle and she crashes and burns in a spectacular way, so much so that she even inspired a meme of her being a terrible freestylist.

Iggy is the product of the industry that is taking an art form from people who have felt pain and want to produce it and are giving to people who have never felt or experienced that pain. They would rather have a Nicki over a Lauryn Hill, and sex sells. Not only that, but Iggy is also a problematic human being who has said racist things on twitter and has been given more opportunities than anyone, because they know she can be “the next big thing.” She has also caused a wave of controversy for a song called D.R.U.G.S. where she refers to herself as a “runaway slave master.”

There are many people who often see Iggy as the “Queen of Hip Hop,” because she can make radio hits and is female, when there have been many female rappers before her that have been impactful. To be the “Queen of Hip Hop,” make an album that is impactful to the game. Make a song that is thought-provoking and inspires people.

If you want a female rapper that can make a pop record and have songs that have savage lyrics, listen to Nicki Minaj’s album The Pinkprint. If you want a female rapper that can make hit records that have strong emotional messages, listen to Lauryn Hill’s record The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. If you want a female rapper with character, listen to Left-Eye. If you want a female rapper that supports the LGBTQ community, listen to Angel Haze. There are many female rappers that are excellent in all different genres that so many people are over looking.

The Grammy’s are quickly approaching and Iggy’s new album The New Classic is nominated for Best Hip Hop Album of the Year. Will she win? Only time will tell, but Azealia Banks put it perfectly. “The Grammy’s are supposed to be accolades for artistic excellence….Iggy isn’t excellent.”