An underground Brooklyn MC is taking credit for sinking Iggy Azalea’s “Great Escape” tour.
The claim by Ty Black, who performs under the moniker Queen Blizzy, may be tricky to prove, as there were widespread reports that Azalea’s initial ticket sales were lackluster. And the Australian rapper also was reportedly “taking a break from social media” and disengaged from promoting what was supposed to be a 24-city music extravaganza.
Skeptics piled on, asking if Azalea could actually command top billing. But behind the debate and poor box office showing (or perhaps feeding it) was 27-year-old Queen Blizzy. And today Blizzy’s doing a victory dance for igniting an online uprising she believes inspired Azalea’s reps to pull the plug.
“She is running scared,” Blizzy told The Daily Beast. “I think she lost some investment because people were raising awareness about who the hell she really is.”
The war began three years ago, when Azalea dropped the track “D.R.U.G.S,” which includes the lyric “I’m a runaway slave / Master.”
Then it was on.
A Harlem rapper named Azealia Banks condemned the Aussie and more recently launched an obscenity-laced Twitter tirade:
Some established hip-hop artists came to Iggy Azalea’s aid, like frequent collaborator T.I. and Kendrick Lamar.
This was more than two years after Azalea tried to set the record straight with an open letter in which she apologized for the “tacky and careless” slip.
She tried to explain it away, noting that the meaning of the “runaway slave” bit was a misunderstood metaphor and that “I was never trying to say I am a slave owner.”
More recently the rapper aired her discontent with being branded a racist. Just before her tour was announced, Azalea appeared on The Cruz Show on Power 106 in Los Angeles.
“I don’t hate anybody,” she said in between burrito bites. “That kind of annoyed me because nobody wants to be called a racist. Nobody wants to feel like they’re Hitler.”
She pleaded with those who wanted a piece of her to skip the bigot nonsense and try knocking her character. “If you just dislike me, say you dislike me,” she said. “It’s completely fine. But don’t try and say I’m a racist.”
The mea culpas didn’t seem to help the rapper’s standing; some felt it was more obtuse shucking and jiving. Blizzy was unfazed. “Anytime you say something like that as a white person in hip-hop, you should know better,” she said. “You should come in with a sensitive attitude while you’re making your money.”
Blizzy even struck back with a rhyme of her own:
“It’s a difference between a house nigga and a runaway slave /
Runaways killed their masters.”
For Queen Blizzy, the white Iggy Azalea has lost all her rapping privileges.
“I want her to put her mic down,” she said. “There’s nothing to say. You’ve overstayed your welcome.”
But initially Blizzy wasn’t looking for a fight. It came to her.
She tuned into the Disney Channel one day last year and heard some of Azalea’s music bumping, but admitted, “I didn’t even know who she was.”
But then she studied Azalea more and fretted that impressionable ears would hear the Aussie rapper and get the wrong idea of what hip-hop was about.
It was around the same time that she found a YouTube video from New York’s Hot 97 in which Banks verbally undressed the Caucasian rapper.
“I’m agreeing with most of it and then she says something about drugs and ‘I’m a runaway slave master,’” Blizzy recalled. “I went and watched the video and she was cracking the whip, and I’m like, ‘OK, this is out of line.’”
Blizzy decided to mobilize her fleet of street soldier activists.
She had plenty of practice, too.
With a bullhorn and lots of charisma, Blizzy can command a small army.
It was two days after Christmas in her neighborhood of East New York, Brooklyn, a month after patrolling cops had shot Akai Gurley dead inside a stairwell at the venerable Pink Houses.
That morning of December 27, 2014, Blizzy shed her moniker and was Ty Black. She rose above an iron gate and roared to an emotional crowd.
“This is a serious epidemic,” she said. “They think we’re out of control and we’re out of our mind, but it’s our people being slaughtered...It’s business as usual.”
She then screamed out: “Akai Gurley—no accident!” “Fists up—fight back!”
And in a flash, the protesters marched.
Blizzy put the same swagger and determination into her anti-Azalea operation.
She created a pair of Facebook pages and initiated a flurry of phone calls to church deacons and community leaders. Since she started her grassroots campaign, Blizzy said, she’s managed to recruit some of the same determined protesters who marched for Gurley and Eric Garner, among the other young black men slain as a result of police action.
She initially kept the focus local. “I saw that she was planning to come to Brooklyn and play at Barclays and I’m like, ‘Uh-uh, that’s a shutdown,’” Blizzy said.
Then she expanded her hip-hop fatwa to two other cities: Newark and Philadelphia.
The summer tour was first announced in February and then rescheduled in March. Blizzy channeled the #BlackLivesMatter ethos that had been gaining traction since Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, became a tinderbox that rebooted a modern civil rights movement across the United States.
Blizzy said her Facebook page to shut down Azalea’s tour was “flagged” immediately. But the Brooklyn rapper is certain her efforts made an impact. “It was up for one day, and [Azalea] changed her tour dates,” she said, reveling in the performer’s shakeup.
“Somebody flagged it after I had more than 4,000 followers,” she said.
Blizzy got going on uploading another page and was in the process of spreading the word about the Aussie rapper flouting hip-hop culture to key elders and leaders in all three cities.
Blizzy said the reception was inspiring. “The fans were not buying it. They could see right through her,” she said.
On Tuesday, Azalea’s tour was officially canceled.
Queen Blizzy is certain her network of comrades—who were at the ready to show up and inspire so-called fans to get schooled on what hip-hop really stands for and turn on Azalea—played a part. “I think her people decided that it wouldn’t be a good look to run into this #BlackLivesMatter movement,” she said. “They don’t want to even start the trend of it.”
With a little hustle and online flexing, Blizzy and her passionate network are still prepared for civil unrest to show up the controversial Aussie MC and possibly tripwire mass protests. “If it happens once, people are going to think, ‘Snap! That’s an idea.’ They get it in their head and want to be a part of it,” Blizzy said.
A rep for Azalea’s label, Def Jam Records, refused to explain to The Daily Beast why the tour was canceled. “We don’t have anything to talk about,” the spokeswoman said. “You said it’s about Iggy’s tour being canceled and a protester, and we don’t have any statements about that right now, but thank you for reaching out.”
Blizzy is determined to take the momentum and battle beyond Azalea.
“She’s the face of it all right now,” Blizzy said of the rapper. “All the other ones are going to go next.”
So established rappers should be aware they’re being put on notice.
“They will see a movement in the streets, and when they see it coming for the hip-hop industry. They are going to have to choose: Stay on the side of the fight to keep it infiltrated [by fakes], or get with our fight and return it back to the black community,” Blizzy said.