“I don’t do black music/I don’t do white music/ I make fight music/ for high school kids -Eminem
Eminem won the Grammy for Best Rap Album this week, thus preventing a small riot that was sure to ensue had the Thunder From Down Under, known as Iggy Azalea, won the award. There has been a recent uproar from many folks who feel that Iggy should not have even been nominated, being a White, Australian girl who uses a fake accent to sound “street”. This sentiment is felt by many, but has also spurned additional discussions about white artists “taking over” the historically African-American dominated music genres of rap and R&B. With popular artists such as Iggy, Robin Thicke, and Justin Timberlake cementing themselves on Hot 99 Jamz stations all over the country, many feel that once again, white people are hijacking something that Black people aren’t able to keep for themselves. I may be expressing the sentiment a bit dramatically, but you will not be surprised how many people are out there, both black and white, who feel this way.
I for one, think it’s completely ridiculous, and apparently I’m writing this to tell you why. This post already has the makings of a minor rant, as so many thoughts are swirling through my mind right now. So you’ll have to excuse me if I go on random tangents here and there, in the next few hundred words. I am one of those individuals ( not sure if I’m rare or not) who believe music is music- no matter who creates it. If it sounds good, I’m going to listen to it, most likely at a very loud volume. Do I understand that certain genres of music were originated in particular cultures, neighborhoods, and ethnicities? Of course. However, I don’t think any race or ethnicity has any ownership over a genre of music, because well, it’s MUSIC. Music expresses feelings that are felt by billions of people, and the ability to express it should not be confined to one race of people.
The notion that white people have taken control over “black music” is asinine, and it’s rooted in the wrong argument- people, you’re mad at the wrong things. Here are a few discussions I’ve heard or seen online:
- Iggy Azalea isn’t a real rap artist because she’s Australian, and raps with a ghetto accent
- The Australian above shouldn’t even be nominated for a Grammy
- The fascination with Eminem is old, he’s just a guy who can rap fast
- Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke are more popular on the R&B charts than traditional black R&B artists, and that’s not fair
Man, where do I start? On the topic of Iggy who inspired this post in the first place, I think the animosity is astounding. Who can fault someone loving music so much, that she wants to emulate the artists she listens to? What makes her changing her voice an automatic disqualifier for her music being legitimate rap? She rhymes in “Work” that she listened to all the Lil Wayne “Carter” installments as inspiration, until she got her deal. She expresses being the only person she knew listening to Tupac. And now you’re mad that she put out a pretty nice album that received recognition from millions? If you’re going to be mad at someone for changing their voice, tell Nicki Minaj to eliminate a minimum of 3 of the voices she screeches on her albums. Don’t get me started on that one. No one is in an uproar that she’s won the BET Award for Best Female Hip Hop Artist 5 years in a row, with lyrics like “I look like yes/and you look like no”. The fact that anyone can be mad at Iggy or even Macklemore being nominated in a rap category but no one is burning their turntables when Wiz Khalifa gets nominated for a Grammy is hilarious. Now when it comes to Eminem, folks need to let the “white card” go. The man is one of the best rappers to ever embrace a mike, regardless of race. Anyone who can somehow lace together “youthful exuberance” and “nuisance” and make you forget that those words don’t actually rhyme is a genius. And it’s true, he does spit rhymes rather quickly, but that’s because he’s amazing. Last time I checked, Twista doesn’t have a Grammy.
I also see a trend with the “haters” if you will ( and I hate that term, so you know I’m upset). All the artists that people are upset with are actually pretty darn good. Is that why you’re mad, bro? Have you listened to any Justin Timberlake album??? You can listen to any one of them ALL the way through! Jesus, on his last record, he literally had two songs in one within EACH CUT. That’s why it was called an “experience”. But people are upset that he’s played at night during the Slow Jams hour on the 105.9. And all because he’s white? Do you want to be blindly supportive of someone else instead? Like Ne-yo, who somehow puts out the exact same song every year but with a different title and verse from Pitbull, confusing everybody? And let me not even say anything about Bruno Mars being the purest voice out there, who has the soul of a little MJ? Are we now going to have a riot against Filipinos?
No one is trying to steal anything from anyone, because music cannot be taken away from you. It emits emotions from people that they didn’t know they had. It makes you feel good, it makes you cry. It makes you sit in a room with a bottle of Chardonnay and think about your ex. Music is music, no matter who sings it or spits the next verse. So get over it people, and go listen to Yelawolf on the Scarface channel on Pandora.