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T.I.’s New Found Colorblindness For Iggy Azalea

After I interviewed him in 2012 leading up to the release of 'Trouble Man.' He was charming, funny, laid back & a southern gentleman. Tiny was in hair & makeup and T.I. couldn't stop going in her dressing room. The love was palpable.

After I interviewed him in 2012 leading up to the release of ‘Trouble Man.’ He was charming, funny, laid back & a southern gentleman. Tiny was in hair & makeup and T.I. couldn’t stop going in her dressing room. The love was palpable.

I walked into SVA Theatre for T.I.’s “No Mediocre” screening late rocking midnight black and gold shades. For once, a rapper was on time. He was already on stage talking to the evening’s host, Lil Duval, discussing his upcoming album Paperwork. Basically Paper Trail Part II, unofficially.

T.I. was doing that charismatic thing he does where he tries to navigate two worlds: the life of the streets from his past and his modern day Cosby-esque image portrayed on his hit reality show “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle.” In one breath he wanted it known that he’s still a “real nigga.” In the other he needed the room full of mostly white media and record label heads to know he can sound book smart.

His big booty white girl protege, Iggy Azalea, sat two rows in front of me rocking a slick bun pony with humongous gold hoops. The “Fancy” singer was surrounded by a bunch of black dudes, a couple chicks and some celeb notables like Irv Gotti.

Music editor boyfriend had convinced me to come out knowing I’d been down with the southern rapper since the days he went by T.I.P. before promptly changing to T.I., out of respect for Q-Tip.

When his debut I’m Serious dropped in 2001, I was a high school junior in Nashville. The east coast wasn’t checking for T.I. yet, but in the south where trap beats reign supreme, he was golden. “Dope Boyz” and “Do It Baby (Stick It Baby)” knocked hard in our tricked out whips with two 15s in the trunk. It wasn’t until the sophomore follow-up, Trap Muzik (2003), that’d end up being the blueprint for what would later catapult him to mainstream success.

By then I was a ride or die fan.

T.I. and Duval are babbling on, dropping a lot of “niggas” and “mothafuckas” when the topic of Iggy arises.

“I can’t believe we’re at a place in America where we still see color,” he says in direct response to people (read: black women) who’ve asked him, “Why couldn’t it be a black woman?” Because apparently people had been asking him why he couldn’t mentor and put on a black female rapper.

I was immediately uninterested in where the conversation was going. To be fair, I’m not interested in anyone who talks about colorblindness. It’s both an ignorant concept (every single person sees color) and it shouldn’t be the goal. I don’t want people to not see my color. I don’t want to be oppressed and discriminated against because of it.

Hearing talk of colorblindness from an artist I’d been a fan of for more than a decade, all because he wanted to cape for a white female rapper who once rapped, “When the relay starts I’m a runaway slave-master,” was disappointing. A black man from the once-segregated south who understands the unfair sentencing in the judicial system— one that he has his own history with —really thinks we shouldn’t see color? Ok, Clifford.

Duval isn’t a cultural critic or journalist so I didn’t expect any type of nuance about the idea of colorblindness. Enough of his tweets have creeped in to my timeline to know he’s not exactly W.E.B. Dubois smart, or even Tyler Perry smart. So, there’s that.

T.I. stops doing the whole double consciousness routine to play some snippets from his forthcoming record: “I’m A King,” the Pharrell-produced “Paperwork,” “G Shit” and “New National Anthem,” which he referred to as a politically charged record.

Before introducing “New National Anthem” T.I. said, “They’ve always tried to make it seem like we were the problem. However, now we’ve seen in recent history that they have bigger problems than us. ‘Cause we don’t run in movie theaters killing people, we don’t go in schools in Connecticut shooting kids. This is not us.”

Wait. You don’t want America to see color when it comes to your championing for Iggy yet you recognize that we, the Black folks, aren’t “Go[ing] in schools in Connecticut shooting kids” like they, The Whites? T.I. is no more interested in being colorblind than he is in going back to jail. He wants to appease a white demographic for the white female rapper he hopes will make waves in the rap game. I see you, bruh.

By the time he played the first official single “No Mediocre” featuring his beloved Iggy Azalea, I was unable to deal with his synopsis about the song being for women and how we should be oh so thankful for it.

Because I love women so much, I chose women as my topic of discussion. So, you’re welcome. Now ladies, you were already born on a pedestal. The only thing that can take you down, is you. Ok?…It’s conveyed through your actions and presentation of yourself. I’ll give you an example, if your bras and ya panties ain’t matching and you know you gon’ get naked later on and somebody else gon’ see it, man, you being mediocre. You need to get yourself together.

It was more of the same of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. school of sexism and respectability politics that proclaims women are asking to be disrespected if dressed too sexy.

Somehow a white female rapper appropriating black women’s whole style with a fix-a-flat booty, faux southern ‘hood accent isn’t mediocre, but black women with their tracks showing is soooo mediocre. And this song is for us. Cute.

I couldn’t get out of the listening fast enough.

Maybe I was so bothered by his rhetoric because the room was hella white, and some white people tend to take what black celebs say as the holy grail voice of The Blacks. Maybe I’m overly sensitive because Iggy gets to appropriate shit black women have authentically been doing for decades, but gets to do so without the scathing degradation of insults of being a “bitch,” “hoodrat” or “ghetto ho,” something black women aren’t exactly afforded the privilege of. After she’s done playing dress up, her whiteness remains intact. Maybe I’m sick of culture vultures dominating black music and the black men who rush to co-sign or save them. Maybe I’m frustrated by the trendy suburban white boys whose voices and pens are at the forefront of coverage on the culture black folks created while black journalists and black press are treated like dust. And yes, I’m definitely sick of hip-hop writers/journalists (black and white) who do very little critique of hip-hop, no pushing the culture forward, but come to events to stan out, get a quick quote for their blogs and tell everyone how dope the music is.

'No Medioce' screening

‘No Mediocre’ screening

James Baldwin once noted, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” It’s akin to how I feel about hip-hop.

The personal is always political. Separating the misogyny and cluelessness some artists have about race (looking at you Pharrell with this “new black” BS) from the music is an impossible task. And just like I want rappers to be more informed about their ideas about race, misogyny and sexism, I want journalists who cover hip-hop to be more honest, critical thinkers, and to create better content around the culture we’re consuming daily.

There was a time music journalism did this. I’ve heard the stories of rappers and their cliques coming up to magazine offices ready to bang you out over an unfavorable album review. I’ve read the public articles taking Dr. Dre to task for horrifically beating up Dee Barnes. Not advocating for the days a rapper would come see about you, but the honesty and fearlessness music writers had then, is desperately missed.

This must be what it feels like to be the old lady in the club.

Everybody’s too busy dickriding now, I suppose.

No one wants to be called a hater. Few reporters wants to ask hard questions because the artist may end the interview. No one wants to think beyond how the beat makes them bop their head. It’s much easier if we all write the same corny lists and praise the artists we love.

God forbid someone say maybe Iggy just ain’t that good; and she’s benefitting from the machine of the mainstream media agenda to make her pop, cultural appropriation and black men’s co-signs. And God forbid that dissenter be a woman.

May as well put back on those black shades, nod to the beat and shutup. The bass is too loud for anyone to hear you anyway.

*Full disclosure: I’ve interviewed both T.I. (read here) and his longitme friend and business partner Jason Geter (read here). Both interviews went incredibly well. That was business, this is my opinion from a fan and cultural critic perspective. 

  • Mark Paul Anthony

    Please remember Amethyst aka Iggy was a 12 year old little girl living in poverty obsessed with Tupac and rap and fell in love with the beats with a 12 year olds knowledge of American history. She worked like crazy just to get to America all on her own still a child at 16 and immersed herself in southern black culture and under the full influence and guidance of African american males. UK’s,young soul princess Joss Stone was tormented and ridiculed for a developing Memphis slang by participating in the same cultural immersion in pursuit of her artistic dreams. Now after 8 years of cultural immersion a certain demographic PULVERIZES her for developing southern hip-hop vocal traits? Did the media FORCE American youth (of all races) to love Iggy or purchase her to the top of the charts, NO. No record label forced Iggy down my throat and I dont listen to radio, I found her on youtube and fell in love with her style, This is what music and hip hop is about. Personal choice and what I like I like no matter what anyone tells me. I love Lil Kim. Mya Joss Stone, Aliyah and thats MY CHOICE. Making something as beutiful as music a racial or political issue of hatred or resentment will never be permitted in my mind or heart or more importantly soul.

    • blackalaureate

      poverty?

      um, her parents lived on their own land and were both employed with good jobs.

      • Mark Paul Anthony

        Rural Australia land ownership does not signify living above extreme poverty. Yes they had land, and had to build their home from MUD BRICKS. The mother scubbed hotel rooms, father a very low income comic artist..

        • blackalaureate

          it might be below your standard of living. that’s hardly what i consider living in poverty. pretty telling that she doesn’t even rap about that life.

          • Mark Paul Anthony

            lol, well she was ONLY 15, going on 16 when she left that life and ran away to American south…so… Also I dont think that MOST people know much than a few tracks off her album. She has been rapping since 16-17 all across southern states and yes she does make a lot of references when she was rapping as a teen

          • blackalaureate

            what do you mean she was “only” 15? why should that stop her as an adult from rapping about her life in australia?

            also, i don’t know ANY impoverished 16 year olds who have the money to fly off to another country.

          • Mark Paul Anthony

            She quit school and scrubbed hotel rooms until she had enough money.She told her mom she was saving for a vacation with no intention on returning. Stop reading stupid trash media reports and learn the truth, which Iggy probably thinks is only HER business anyway.

          • blackalaureate

            ok, i’ll read the media you’ve been reading instead, fanboy.

          • Mark Paul Anthony

            When she rapped ” No money no family 16 in the middle of Miami”. thats not artistic fiction, that was her reality.

          • blackalaureate

            i’m not impressed, and not convinced that she lived a life of poverty. seems like she was completely spoiled and unsupervised as a teenager.

          • Mark Paul Anthony

            She lived the majority of her teen life ON HER OWN, struggling on her own. She also said she had no friends and was teased for her homemade outfits. Azalea travelled to the United States in 2006, right before she turned 16. She told her parents she was going “on a holiday” with a friend, but eventually decided to stay and shortly afterwards told them she was not coming back home: “I was drawn to America because I felt like an outsider in my own country, I was in love with hip hop, and America is the birthplace of that, so I figured the closer I was to the music, the happier I’d be. I was right.” She recalled: “My mum was crying, saying, ‘Just be safe.’ I was thinking, ‘I’m going by myself. I’m fucking crazy After her arrival in America, she resided in the U.S. on a visa waiver for six years, leaving the country every three months to renew it. She is currently in the country on a five-year visa having previously earned money illegally.to survive

          • blackalaureate

            not impressed. and none of that proves that she grew up in poverty, as you stated.

          • Mark Paul Anthony

            Then you are someone that is so jaded in pre-judgementof a white woman in a traditionally african american game, that if Jesus himself rose to the earth and stated ” Let this child be and judge not her in her glory but judge yourself in your failures and make amends” that you would turn your back in protest. I have no further discussions I wish to engage in. Thank you for your time.

          • blackalaureate

            look here pastor troy, i don’t care about her race but it’s obvious that you do. now we get to the meat of it.

            take your piousness and preaching and go help someone who is truly in poverty, before you sing the gospel of iggy to someone who clearly is nonplussed by her “humble” beginnings.

          • Gnasher22

            It’s a bird..it’s a plane..wait no it’s a dumb nig!!!

          • gnasher22

            Praiiissee the lawd nig! We got blackalaureate here preaching to all the black victims out there! Sweeeeett jeesus you are a righteous nig!

          • Devin

            Oh shut up. Iggy Azaela must be your dominatrix or something.

          • Queensgirl

            Not a fan of Iggy by any means but is your assumption that she’s didn’t grow up in poverty based on the fact that she’s white? I’m just curious. You seem pretty adamant in your disdain for her. I do my think Mark Paul Anthony was trying to impress you. I think he was trying to give you perspective. I’m sure you can agree that every white person is not born with silver spoons in therir mouths.

          • Queensgirl

            *should have been, “I do NOT think Mark Paul Anthony was trying to impress you”

          • blackalaureate

            read what i first wrote. did i SAY she was born with a “silver spoon” in her mouth? no, i didn’t.

            i said that her parents had their own property (their own large parcel of land) and they both had good jobs.

            iggy grew up in a family that owns 12 acres of land.

            that’s not poverty by any stretch of the imagination.

          • jeff

            thats probably because you are a closet racist. serious racial undertones to your iggy hate

          • Devin

            Ha! Fanboy is right!

            “Gosh, E! online said Iggy also has a PhD in Astrophysics that she earned while working as a cashier at Popeyes’s. That’s where she met and fell in love with Jamal. The two shared inter-racial love and his black consciousness transferred to her. She is a true soul sista”.
            Enough sarcasm for you Fanboy?
            blackalaureate, you’ve got the floor. I like your style

      • gnasher22

        hey it’s everybody’s favorite nig! blackalaureate! Having fun arguing blacky?

    • EricBandRakim

      What are you smoking?
      Give me some cause it must be the chronic.
      Yes, We are the World. Music has no color. The sky is always blue
      Tell me now, are there any other childish and unrealistic personal philosophies you want to share?

  • blackalaureate

    we’ve got hundreds of kids, some of whom are 8 or 9 years old, sleeping on floors in cages after coming to america, and i’m somehow supposed to be in awe that 16 year old iggy azalea decided to stay in america while on vacation?

    yeah.

    yall stay caping for this…”rapper.”

    • Mark Paul Anthony

      No one is asking you to be in “awe” of anyone. That is your choice, however do not persecute others in their successes before you take a hard look inward and focus on yourself and how YOU are contributing to making this world a better place. Tearing down those around you is not the path to fulfillment.

      • blackalaureate

        i’m tearing down your commentary about how this person supposedly grew up impoverished. that’s what’s being torn down.

        • Gnash

          tear it up nig! a nig with an opinion is like a cripple that just learned how to walk!

        • K.

          It’s not about where she came from. MANY black artists came from well to do families. You are clearly hating based on race. Fuck you.

          • blackalaureate

            thanks.

          • EBandRakim

            WRONG. It’s not only about where she came, it’s also about WHAT she came from. She’s a money making faker propped up by T.I who would sell his momma for a dollar bill.
            I don’t accept IA as a rapper anymore than Japanese would accept me in Kabuki theater. No matter how well I faked it and speak the language, I rightfully would not be accepted. She is your classic culture misappropriating white faker, a wannabe.
            And by the way … what does Fuck you mean? Do you have any idea. Honestly, define it for me. You can’t cause you’re an idiot.

    • writtenbyBene

      Chuuuurch. This girl was not poor by any means. Came from a well to do Australian family. But let them keep caping.

      • Mark Paul Anthony

        Writtenbybene, you do not appear to be a 12 year old uninformed Nicki Minaj fan so I must directly question WHY you are doing this. You MUST know very well something about Iggy’s early life to be here, so you must therefore be fully aware she came from the OPPOSITE of a “well to do Australian family”. So dare I ask WHY you are publishing knowingly such a blatant lie? Do you have so much hatred in you for this young woman to do this? The poor girl grew up wearing home-made clothes because her parents couldn’t afford ! Their first home was made of MUD BRICKS in rural Australia! Affluent? She ran away on her own to Miami at 15 after scubbing floors with her mother and stashing money away and literally grew up ON HER OWN on the streets of the dirty south. WTF you trying to pull here?

      • Suda

        Australians are racist ass hell too.Look at Mel Gibson. Iggy’s playing the game now but her true colors will show soon enough then that nigga will be left where he belongs under her white feet.

    • jeff

      well, they can always stay in their own country and not come in illegally…..

  • Daria

    Iggy wasn’t even at the “No Mediocre” screening, lmao.

    • Mark Paul Anthony

      Are you the ONLY other person in the “social media world” that knows all those accounts and hate propaganda images were all FAKE that came out just before and after BET awards or is it just that people believe the chosen reality that is “convenient” for them to believe.?

  • anelian down

    Mark you sound kinda, i don’t know, creepy slash stalkerish. just sayn. you know a lot about this chick. i take it yall are not related.

    • Mark Paul Anthony

      I know a lot about MOST Hip hop artists. Ask me about Lil Kim or Foxy Brown or Snoop as well and NO, I do NOT know for certainty who exactly killed Tupac Amaru Shakur or Biggie. (before you come up with usual wisecrack)

  • Bri

    Absolutely love this! It its just to refreshing to read a piece filled with so much passion.

    • jeff

      you mean abject racism? cause abject racism is not “passion”

    • Probably a White Guy

      *too

      • Marisol Ramirez

        Bria, these grammar and spelling nazis are serious lol

  • Tiffany

    yes the passion of this article is wonderful but can we please get a new topic?? you don’t want to be judged by the color of your skin? so why are you judging Iggy by the color of hers? She’s trying to break into our world? why should hip hop be the crown jewel of our culture? it’s not even an accurate description of us as a whole just a small sample. if you want to claim something so badly build something that will help the progression of our community. but please don’t waste your talents talking about being angry that a white woman is being appreciated in a genre of a music we typically dominate. it’s petty and it should be beneath us. our history in music in general is set in stone, we have no reason to worry. and also no reason to publish hateful commentary that will only further perpetuate the negative stereotype associated with black people.

  • Lisa Mei

    This is why I love you!!!

  • jeff

    this whole article is completely and utterly racist. shes white so shes not allowed to do cetrain things black people do and when she does its somehow less legitimate….smh

  • cassy

    Thank you for writing this article! I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Joy Thompson

    YES YES YES !!!

  • “No one wants to be called a hater.” I’m glad you’re not afraid of that word. You said everything I’ve been trying to express, every time someone brings up the subject of T.I. or Iggy. Thank you for this!

  • Lauren

    Why does someone have to come from poverty to get credit for having a talent? While I am a white female, I don’t understand why it’s so wrong that she took interest in rap. This post just goes to show racism can exsist on either side. Which I understand that African Americans have come so far and been so much. I feel awful for everything my race did to African Americans.. Most days I am ashamed to be a white American. Grant it, most of my family is Native American..many ancestors of mine were in the trail of tears. And I hate thinking about what they went through along with African Americans. It disgusts me to think those kinds of people existed and still do to this day. My point in all of this is, we are not who are ancestors were. I am who I am and nothing else. Just like everyone else. So by ti saying “stop seeing color” he is saying it in a positive way. Either way. One day, maybe, people will Stop seeing white people as evil human beings and seeing African Americans in negitive ways. I love that iggy is a white rapper just like I love Darius Rucker as a country artist. As a white woman, I feel very empowered by it. Like wow, she’s gone where no other white woman would dare for the fear of criticism. Hah I guess you could say she’s some of us whites girls white Obama (not nearly as ground breaking, empowering, and important as Obama of course and history making, I love that we have an African American in office, I voted for him). But what im trying to get to is music is art. It should never be limited for any reason..sound, the sex of a person, or the color of their skin. This is just my opinion..I respect everyone who has there own. I don’t expect anyone to agree. I just pray for a day when everyone can get along and be whoever we want and do whatever we want without fear of criticism race related, weight related, height, gay or straight. I just want people to get along damnit!!!! Ha but awesome post!! You really are an amazing writer! Keep the good work! Much love!

    • mutha fucka jones

      The people who hate you for being white will fucking hate you forever, no matter the circumstances. It doesn’t matter if you dedicate your life to help the poor, or become Super Woman and ended all racism with the flick of your wrist.
      You need to let go of the fantasy that if you’re just a “more good” white person, then the hatred directed at you will disappear.
      I’m saying this for your own good. Don’t belittle yourself because of others’ perception of you. If the races and all of history were reversed, they wouldn’t give a shit about you.
      You are not at fault for anything.

  • Chelsea Jules

    I think shes jealous because shes talented,gorgeous, and has more ass than alot of sisters. Its 2014 ,get over it she’s white. If she was black, bendin over being stank in a video she wouldnt be targeted.

  • Ju

    I get the gist that you feel that rap should only be limited to african americans because that’s where it stemmed from. I’m sure that there are tons of people who are and have been living in far worse circumstances than Iggy ever did, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t have to struggle to get to where she is now, or that she doesn’t deserve to be there because of her color. What’s so wrong with a white female rapper joining the game? Also, I’m sure there are people who refer to her as a bitch, or ghetto ho. There will always be those people, being white doesn’t magically exclude her from degrading insults. She loves to rap, she has a huge ass, she wears huge hoop earrings, but all that means she’s trying to be “black” or “playing dress up”? Those just sound like interests and personal style choices to me. This world is nowhere near being colorblind, this article is a prime example of that, but Iggy may open doors for people of all races to follow a passion for rap, and that seems to me like a step forward, not backwards.

  • Courtney from Raleigh

    A friend and I have been discussing Iggy on and off all day via our work emails and exchanging links to interesting articles. It’s a slow day at the office, besides I’m a lover of words so I’ve read more than a dozen regarding everything that surrounds her image lately. All offer interesting opinions, but this one I’ve read and reread several times. Every single point you’ve made is congruent with my feelings. Thank you SO MUCH for speaking on T.I. and just how out of touch he seems. Another article I read actually described him as “perpetually petulant” which couldn’t be more accurate. He has this “I’mma come for you” attitude as if he is trying to demand respect by threat of physical, or verbal assault. I have lost all respect for him. Your article summed him up perfectly. I also greatly appreciate your challenge to other writers. One thing I noticed is that no one who interviewed T.I. had the courage to challenge his incredulous claims about her. One interviewer started with saying Iggy is a controversial artist and T.I. stopped him (or her) abruptly demanding to know why, gave his threats to “come for” anyone who talks shit about Iggy and the interviewer didn’t even bother to answer why she is controversial while we all, opposers as well as supporters, can probably think of many. This is a great piece. I think you have accurately represented the opinions of a lot of black women on this subject. Thanks for this one.

  • MidnightRaver

    Should blacks and Asians be told their contributions to European classical music is tantamount to cultural appropriation? No. It’s musical participation. It’s about enjoying music.

    • writtenbyBene

      This piece went right over your head if that’s what you took away from it. Thanks for reading.

      • mutha fucka jones

        Or you just completely ignored his point rather than attempted to refute anything.
        “You just don’t get it” is the new “I’m rubber and you’re glue” retort.

  • Probably a White Guy

    You can’t write this article without sounding a bit petty and racist. I’m not a fan of Iggy, but you lost all your credibility with the fix-a-flat shit. Shame on you for the pontification.

  • Rebecca Hensler

    Insightful and real. Thanks.

  • Great post, I admire your courage. A colorblind world makes no sense. Whatever you believe in, we are different colors for a reason. Racism is real and we have to see our colors to get past it.

    http://www.thegullah.com/neverdatedoutsidemyrace/

  • mutha fucka jones

    “understands the unfair sentencing in the judicial system— one that he has his own history with”
    Going to jail for only one year for having a bunch of illegal machine guns is not unfair sentencing, please. He got what you might call, a privileged sentence.
    And I see an article critically detailing why Iggy sucks on my facebook newsfeed probably every day. In fact this article was one of them. Your opinion is not the minority viewpoint.
    Iggy does indeed blow though.