When Iggy Azalea says in her song, “Murda Bizness,” “I kill pride. I hurt feelings,” she is projecting a certain type of audacity that is unlike President Obama’s hope, that is unlike Nicki Minaj’s unapologetic alliance with Lil Wayne, that is unlike Azealia Banks’ cheeky charisma. Azalea, a white Australian-born rapper signed with T.I.’s label, flaunts her hypersexuality in her lyrics and her demeanor, but in the video for “Murda Bizness,” she attempts to showcase that she can chill with T.I. in the studio and maintain a ‘fuck all the haters’ presence. She is the only female in that video, unlike the silent Black women in her viral hit, “Pu$$y.”
That is a statement speaking to not only the color caste system that pervades the hip-hop universe for females, but also for the complacency she and the White Girl Mob, an all-female crew led by Oakland-identified Kreayshawn, understand as a dismissal for any racial criticism. Harlem hip-hop artist Banks’ own slight on Azalea is poignant in that Banks stands as “pro-Black” rather than “anti-white,” because Azalea really is killing pride when she shows off her sunburnt skin, and she really is hurting feelings when she commodifies a classist, cultural appropriation of Black female sexuality.
Within today’s contemporary hip-hop space, white female rappers are gaining a lot of attention and notoriety with a modern minstrelsy show while Black female rappers are still constantly pitted against each other rather than celebrated. The personas that seem to succeed for women in hip-hop today are, therefore, limited to the hypersexualized video vixen like Iggy, to the reckless blunt-smoker like Kreayshawn, and to the transformative women like Banks and Minaj challenging the previous two representations that capitalize on negative perceptions of blackness in America.
Kreayshawn and her White Girl Mob crew perpetuate an anti-Black animus through their version of rap, their image of rap, and most importantly what it means to gain credibility from digesting dominant representations of Black masculinity. Yeah, she can smoke blunts and be reckless on the streets of Hollywood, and yeah, she can call other women “bitches” and “hoes.” It isn’t my business to enter her sphere of a good time, but it still warrants a pause as to why they are so popular and have so much attention surrounding their “good time.”
Kreayshawn references Odd Future in an interview when she speaks about her joy of shocking people. Odd Future’s mission is shock, but their anarchist tendencies are different because the popularity of Kreayshawn’s spectacle is premised on the accessibility of her shock. She uses her privilege as a young white woman with a film degree to permeate the boundaries of Blackness and appropriate whatever she wants out of it, meaning what she sees Black males participating in in videos or how Black women dress and act. Yet, the danger and risk of that ‘recklessness’ and transgression is cushioned by her whiteness, by her small white girl frame that allows her to indulge in this superficiality. What is dangerous then is that she can mobilize and influence whiteness—that she, as a signed recording artist, represents post-racial America because she is making it in the rap game and can justify her use of the n-word. There is no Odd Future-esque anarchy in that; there is no irony in that. It’s just securing the white supremacist, capitalist power structure that this country was built upon.
Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks also both use the same white liberal feminist-deemed ‘offensive’ language for women, but what they do is provide Black women a voice and alternative representations of Black female sexuality. Minaj and Banks let the world know who they are, what they want to be, and what they are shifting notions about (like the delicacy and whiteness of Barbie or of heteronormative culture). What White Girl Mob and Iggy Azalea do is not necessarily take up space for other Black female emcees, but rather, they narrow pop culture’s scope of what it means to be a female emcee; and any form of creative expression should not be limited to two major roles and one minor role, all of which are premised on sexuality.
I don’t agree with the heavy demand on hip-hop to be more ‘conscious’ because that is yet another form of regulation on a genre of music that is monitored unlike any other due to censorship and sampling laws. However, consumers should be more aware and more conscious of what these white girls are rapping about and the image they are providing for American pop culture and its consumers. Furthermore, it is not even about questions of authenticity, or what true hip-hop should be, because at this point, it’s meaningless to engage with that conversation when all participants are involved, despite varying degrees, in the capitalist machinery and buying in to whatever sells to mainstream America.
White Girl Mob and Iggy may put out catchy tunes and beats, but that seduction will ultimately be the death of progressive politics once enough young people are convinced that racism and sexism do not exist anymore, or truly believe in that thing called reverse racism. Whether consumers realize it or not, culture is heavy and it informs assumptions that could very well reify the fascist system we exist in rather than transform, or at least understand, our anti-Black, patriarchal society.