White Female Rapper: New Wave in Hip Hop or Pure Minstrelsy?
Banks, who I gather is not the type to back down, fired back first by calling T.I. “corny” then by stating, “This situation is really funny to me. It’s not like I said some foul out of the water sh-t about Iggy Azalea… I questioned her artistic integrity because of insensitive lyrics. It’s not like I made up some bullsh-t and came at her head. In fact the issue wasn’t even really her. The issue was XXL. Why were the only three females nominated for that cover Kreayshawn, V-nasty and Iggy? Where was Rapsody, or Nitty Scott, or Angel Haze? But y’all n–gas don’t hear me tho. LOL. I think what’s even more interesting about this, is how unable Iggy is to explain herself. T.I can’t even explain for her. Those r my last comments about it. The Internet is making me look like a villain.”
Well despite her best attempt at defending her original comments, I think that Banks’ brash reverence for the truth automatically makes her a desperado. I mean no one likes an opinionated Black woman, right? Nevertheless she does have a legitimate point. In all the world of hip hop heroines, why were the only three femcess considered for the cover, white women?
There appears to be a growing fascination with white women in hip-hop lately and it goes beyond the background eye-candy and video vixens that we have been used to seeing. No these white women are picking up the mics and holding their own with the boys. And the Hip-Hop community is noticing. Their videos garner more attention and average much higher page view returns than any other Black femcee of the same caliber. The phenomenon is so noticeable that writer/author Toure did an entire piece not only declaring them the new wave in the genre but also suggesting that these white femcees are challenging Hip Hop masculine ideals and society-driven stereotypes.
Besides Azalea, there is also Kreayshawn (pronounced Creation), who hails from somewhere around Oakland and whose viral hit, “Gucci Gucci” has inked her a major deal with Columbia Records. Her fellow “White Girl Mob member” V-Nasty, who caused a controversy last year for dropping “N***a” in freestyle, has gotten the co-sign from Mister Softie-face Rapper Gucci Man. With all this emphasis and attention on the rise of the Blonde hair/ Blue eye femcee, it makes you wonder if white girl rappers are the new black?
One thing that can account for this newfound fascination is the white people novelty in watching other white people interpret and repackage Black culture and aesthetic. Who can blame them when they make up for the primary buying demographic of all hip-hop music today. And it is certainly not a new debate as long before hip-hop, there was jazz and there was Kenny G. The question then is when white folks imitate black musicians, are they expressing understanding, admiration and sincerely vybing with the culture from wince the music hails, or are they just appropriating and basically engaging in minstrel parody without the make up?
When you check out Azalea’s debut video you see that she is the only white girl present, making her front and center. In the opening scene, an old lady sits at the kitchen table while Azalea, propped up on the table, chows down on a bowl of cereal. In the next scene, she is sitting out on the front steps sandwiched between two dark-skinned Black girls, possibly twins, and a young Black boy, who is draped around her neck like an accessory. A few scenes later, Azalea provocatively licks down a Popsicle while the two Black twins, a Black dude and another Black girl dance in the background. While not black face in its traditional form, it does ring of how folks of color are often the subjects of racial fetishism for one’s own popularity -unless you believe that the old lady in the kitchen really is her grandmother and that this inner city California neighborhood is actually where Azalea hails from?
But let’s, for a second, discuss Azalea real life hometown of New South Wales Australia. Originally, that land belonged to various Aboriginal tribes but following Captain Cook’s “discovery” of the Australian East Coast in 1770, the life of Aboriginals would be altered forever. Smallpox, along with other diseases the English brought with them, wiped out approximately 70 percent of the Aboriginal population. Land dispossession and massacres took care of the rest. By the 1900s the entire indigenous population had been reduced by 90 percent. Sure does puts that whole “runaway slave master” line in perspective, doesn’t it?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the strange dynamic of the black male cosigning the white girl rapper. It’s almost like a twisted exoticism where white women are free to identify with the hyper masculine bravado of hip-hop without the responsibility or consequences of how this will be reflected on their community. I’ve covered that before so I won’t go much into it again. However despite Toure’s best assertion they are challenging the hyper-masculine landscape of hip-hop, the real question is how could they be, when in fact, they look and sound exactly how I would have imagined the first mainstream female white rappers to be – just like the Black men they are trying to imitate.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.