Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeNewsTamara Chabe: America’s race wars spill over into the music business

Tamara Chabe: America’s race wars spill over into the music business


A so-called ‘race row’ between two female rappers, Iggy Azalea (white female rapper) and Azealia Banks (black female rapper) has hit the headlines and has been featured in mainstream newspapers, including The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.

The row became headline news after Azealia Banks appeared on a radio show and expressed outrage about the fact that Iggy Azalea has been nominated for a Grammy Award under the category best rap, because she lacks talent. Banks said the following:

“Maccelemore’s album was not better than Drakes album, and Iggy is not better than any black girl rapping today’’. “The Grammys are supposed to be accolades for artistic excellence and Iggy Azelea is not excellent and her music is not hip hop…I see a cultural smudging.”

Banks added. “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.” Banks also accused Iggy of using black culture and not caring about black issues and cited the cases of Eric Garner (a black man who died during a police arrest) and Mike Brown (a black man shot dead by police)  where Iggy has remained silent.

Iggy Azalea said the following in response to Azealia Banks “Special message for Banks: There are many black artists succeeding in all genres. The reason you haven’t is because of your piss poor attitude,” she tweeted. “Now! rant, Make it racial! Make it political! Make it whatever but I guarantee it won’t make you likable & that’s why ur crying on the radio.”

“Your inability to be responsible for your own mistakes, bullying others, the inability to be humble or have self control.It’s you! Enjoy continuing to bang your head against that metaphoric brick wall & Savor this attention. I’m the only way you get ANY”

I think that Azealia Banks is very talented and very creative, and her music is innovative and groundbreaking.

I am not a fan of Iggy Azelea’s music and I personally don’t find her to be very talented however I do sympathise with her in this particular matter. Iggy shouldn’t be forced to comment on black issues or follow a group think and in any event not all black people think alike.

There are many black people including myself who believe that the result of the Grand Jury in the case of Mike Brown was right, and the protests are not justified. I believe that Brown should not have charged at a police officer and that police-lives-matter. Many hard working black people lost their businesses in Ferguson as a result of the riots which seemed more like mob justice. It seems like black lives only matter if they’re taken away by white male police officers but in the case of black-on-black crime, there are no protests and there’s a tendency to blame capitalism and so-called ‘white privilege’.

In the case of Eric Garner, I think that a charge should have been bought against the officer, but I reject the race-card. In any event the officer’s supervisor was on the scene, she was black woman, and when Eric said that he couldn’t breathe she failed to intervene in any meaningful way and surely she was also negligent.

The Garner case highlights the folly of protestors who blame capitalism and free markets and call for more government intervention in the economy to create ‘social justice’ and implement the socialist utopia.

Big government played a heavy role in the Garner case. Garner was arrested for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. A big government needs larger and bigger taxes to sustain it and pay for the public sector workers and bureaucrats. Citizens find themselves having to deal with more and more onerous regulations and taxes as governments can only raise funds from taxes. Police find themselves having to deal with more bureaucracy and police the extra regulations. More regulations results in more law enforcement and societies which are over regulated are bad for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Reagan once said that “extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite’’.

Protestors’ calling for more government is a self defeating exercise – the planned economy which ‘social justice’ campaigners want will result in a more authoritarian society and the rise of a police state.

Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote an article in the Telegraph entitled Azealia Banks vs Iggy Azalea: ‘Privileged white people shouldn’t steal hip-hop’. In the article Reni wrote “As a fellow black woman, I’m not sure Azealia Banks realises the depth of the conversation she’s just started about hip-hop and white privilege. She said it best herself: “At the very f***ing least, y’all owe me the right to my identity. That’s all we’re holding on to in hip-hop and rap.”

The music industry doesn’t owe Banks anything and it is a shame that she believes that her identity is tied up to rap music. The music industry is a commercial business and what sells is what is promoted by the major record labels who are only interested in profit margins.

I don’t think that hip-hop is black culture, it’s music of black origin, and a lot of the problems faced by inner city urban communities stems from big government and also because not enough blacks pay attention to economics. Many black youths have heard of Iggy Azalea and Al Sharpton but I’m sure that very few have heard of Thomas Sowell. Some ‘social justice’ campaigners would much rather talk about so-called ‘white privilege’ which is a meaningless term however I believe that Lyndon B Johnson’s ‘great society’ programme did what slavery couldn’t do, which was to destroy the black family. The family was where positive values and sustainable cultures and attitudes were fostered and promoted.

Banks’s comments about the state of hip-hop and rap music are not revolutionary and the discussion that she has started is not new as people have been discussing the commercialisation of hip-hop for years.

I used to be a big fan of hip-hop and rap music during my teenage years and early 20s. I was a teenager during the 90s, which was a great period for black music, and some of my favourite hip-hop and rap stars were Keith Murray, Nas, Mc Lyte, Queen Latifah, Wu Tang Clan, Naughty By Nature, Tribe Called Quest and Tu Pac.

I became disillusioned with mainstream hip-hop and rnb in the early 2000s as there was too much focus on materialism and misogyny, and I also noticed that music videos by popular black male artists seemed to no longer feature darker skinned black women; I started listening to rappers like Common, Talib Kweli, Slum Village, Mos Def and Little Brother, who make authentic and politically conscious music aimed at uplifting in a meaningful way. Hip-hop group ‘The Roots’ made a memorable song called ‘What They Do’ released in 1996 which mocked the direction that hip-hop and rap had taken and the focus on bling,materialism, violence and misogyny.

Reni Edo-Lodge said in her article that “this conversation is about the elevation and adulation of white mediocrity, whilst black talent continues to flounder on the margins. This is how structural racism thrives.’’

My issue with her comment is that I don’t think that enough black people support and buy records from positive and talented rappers like J Live and Little Brother. I attended a J Live concert at the Jazz Cafe a few years ago and 98 per cent of the crowd was young white men. It was the same with a hip hop group called ‘Flying Lotus’, the concert was in Shoreditch, East London and again at least 98 per cent of the crowd was white. White men have a track record of supporting talented, positive, creative, authentic, experimental and politically conscious hip-hop artists on independent labels and buy their records and attend concerts more so than the black people who claim that rap music is their culture.

9th Wonder, a hip producer said in response to the Iggy v Banks controversy, that Iggy’s fans buy her music. He also said “from the days of Little Brother, until now, it’s the same song…people always say how real they are, until it’s time to buy. Buy. That word buy is a serious word; 3 letters can change the course of music, in which everybody is looking for a change. Stop waiting for artists to be ‘cool’ or ‘uncool’ before you decide to form an opinion, or when somebody becomes the talk.”

I was sympathetic with the radio show host who tried to tell Azealia Banks that her frustrations about the state of music are not new and that we’ve been here before. He also tried to tell Azealia that the reason why she feels aggrieved is because she is talented and creative and wants to make an impact on an artistic level.

Will-i-am was right when he said that there is a place for Iggy within hip-hop. Corporations understand that hip-hop music is profitable and they’ll promote what they deem to be the most marketable and profitable brand. Iggy Azalea’s brand of hip-hop/pop is the flavour of the moment in mainstream hip-hop notbecause of ‘white privilege’ but because there is a niche for her in the market and her fans buy her music.

With regards to the Grammys, I tend not to watch award shows and programmes like the X Factor because I can’t stand watching talented artists get overlooked. Perhaps if the viewing public stopped watching the Grammys in such high numbers then the makers would reassess their decisions. However, in the absence of any boycotts the makers of the programme can go with what they believe to be popular.

The fact that Iggy is doing well shouldn’t be taken as evidence that meritocracy is a defunct concept. Iggy’s music is forgettable and I’m sure that in 3-4 years time or sooner she’ll fade into history, whereas Banks is actually talented and could leave a lasting legacy.

There are also many talented white artists who get overlooked in this current climate, which is why it is important to support independent record labels.

I think Banks is having trouble breaking through in America because her style of hip-hop and rap music has a very distinctively British and European flavour. If I’d only heard her music and not her accent I would have thought that she was a girl who grew up in East London – Dalston, Hackney, Homerton or Shoreditch.

Banks should focus on marketing her music in Britain, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Japan, China, Australia – Iggy’s country of birth – and South Africa.

Azealia is Banks’s real name, and I would be interested to know why Iggy chose Azalea as part of her hip hop name and what her inspiration was – Iggy’s real name is Amethyst Amelia Kelly.

Banks has cited Aaliyah as being one of her favourite singers. Aaliyah was known as being very humble and down to earth and Banks should adopt some of those traits herself, especially if she wants her music to be successful in Britain, Europe and Asia. It’s great that Banks is confidant, you need those traits to withstand the pressures and strains in the music world, but Banks outburst sounded like the type a spoilt child would give.

Lately I’ve started listening to Afro Beats and I would encourage people to support it.

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Tamara Chabe
Tamara Chabe
Ms Chabe is a Legal/Business Advisor with a special interest in Business, Current Affairs & Leadership matters

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