“First thing’s first, I’m the realest.” The next line of “Fancy” should have gone “Southern white female rapper finna steal this.”
Numbers don’t lie, and guess who topped the Hot 100 charts last week? Yup, that would be Iggy Azalea. “Fancy” (feat. Charlie XCX) is currently the No. 1 song in the country on Billboard HOT 100 chart. This bad Australian b**ch is definitely in the murda bidness. While she slays on that glossy Southern-swagga filled rap, she also holds the No. 2 spot with a guest verse on Ariana Grande’s “Problem”. In so doing, she joins the Beatles (The Beatles ya’ll) as the only other act to rank Nos. 1 and 2 simultaneously with their first two Hot 100 entries. (The Beatles achieved this in 1964 with “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You”.)
Now the blogs are all a-chatter with the big question – how did this random white girl manage to steal hip-hop? Novelty effect? Check. 90’s Clueless Nostalgia? Check. Combo with the hottest pop singer around? Check. Mad rapping skills?? Check. Check.
But some are still calling Iggy’s rapping an appropriation of hip-hop culture. I wonder if there would be so much head-wagging if Iggy were not white? We are in a new day and age, and the face of hip-hop is changing from largely African-American males to include a variety of skin colors and, of course, genders. Iggy follows in the footsteps of Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, Lauryn Hill and a string of other femcees to chart in the Top 10. Interestingly, Iggy is only the fourth solo female rapper ever to top the Hot 100. Lauryn Hill was first with the No. 1 “Doo Wop (That Thing),” Lil’ Kim led with the “Lady Marmalade” fusion, and finally, Shawnna assisted on Ludacris’ “Stand Up”.
It looks like charting is not only a measure of musicality, but also of cultural and social connection to the artist. It’s possible that Iggy’s whiteness helps her connect to a huge white fan base, many of whom simply can’t believe the girl can rap. Elvis Presley learned black blues music in the 50’s, and broke ground to become The King. This has angered many black artists who would not be given the same respect (or royalties for that matter), and who accuse him of appropriation. But is it really the artist who appropriates music, or the public who judges black and white musicians by a racist double standard?
Regardless of where you land on this, again, the numbers don’t lie. An obscure Australian white femcee has managed to do what only the Fab 4 have done before. Obviously Iggy Azalea is striking a nerve with a lot of people. Take a listen for yourself.
# 1 Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”
# 2 Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea “Problem”