WHO DAT? WHO DAT?
The World Turns on Iggy Azalea: Homophobia Allegations and a Canceled Tour
The tide is turning against the reigning queen of racial appropriation with protests, pressured sponsors, and low ticket sales.
Late last month, Iggy was forced to cancel her “Great Escape” tour. While her official statement insisted that the rapper sought “a different creative change of heart” and needed a “break”—the convenient cousin of the oft-cited celebrity “exhaustion”—it’s no secret that Iggy’s first tour was already shaping up to be a ticket sales disaster. Before its cancellation, the tour had already been delayed for months after openers Tinashe and Nick Jonas pulled out. Basically, Iggy Azalea’s tour was less appealing to Nick Jonas than celibacy—and promised to be way more harmful to his career.
With Jo Bro no mo’ and a whole lot of tickets left over, Azalea scrapped her tour, focusing on individual shows like her scheduled appearance at the Pittsburgh Pride event. Except she had to cancel that because of all the times she tweeted about “homos” and “dyke bitches.” Oops! Iggy was pressured out of Pride when a slew of sponsors and participating groups threatened to retract their support of the event. While firing up her old automatic apology letter generator, Iggy probably couldn’t help reflecting on how her old enemy Azealia Banks’s career is suddenly taking off, with Banks set to star in a major motion picture. Like two ships passing in the night, Banks is expanding her creative range and realizing her vision—while Iggy can’t even get Papa John’s to deliver to her house anymore.
It wasn’t always this way.
The 25-year-old Australian rapper rose to fame back in 2011 with her appropriately named mixtape Ignorant Art. In 2012, Azalea made XXL’s annual Top 10 Freshmen list, and was signed by T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records. After a host of high-profile tours and collaborations, the rapper released her debut album, The New Classic, on April 21, 2014. With 52,000 copies sold in the first week alone, Azalea was well on her way to finally convincing people not to call her Kreayshawn. Unfortunately for Iggy, it appears that her newfound fame might be as fragile as her ego.
While Iggy’s quirky tendency to convincingly mimic “the sonic register of a down-home Atlanta girl” never exactly flew under the radar, it was outright racist rhetoric that earned Iggy her first slap on the wrist. Back in 2011, Azalea landed herself in a bit of a predicament with a lyric on her remix track “D.R.U.G.S.” The white rapper rhapsodized, “When the relay starts, I’m a runaway slave-master.” Naturally, people were incensed not only by the incendiary substance of the lyric but by the utter hypocrisy of it, coming from an artist whose entire sound and image is the sum of a stripper-name algorithm and a wholehearted appropriation of African-American culture.
This was around the time Azealia Banks first started dragging Iggy with the facts, explaining, “Iggy Azalea on the XXL freshman list is all wrong. How can you endorse a white woman who called herself a ‘runaway slave master’? Sorry guys, I’m pro black girl. I'm not anti white girl, but I’m also not here for any1 outside of my culture trying to trivialize very serious aspects of it.” In an open letter destined to be the first of many, Iggy apologized for her mis-rhyme, saying, “It was a tacky and careless thing to say and if you are offended, I am sorry. Sometimes we get so caught up in our art and creating or trying to push boundaries, we don’t stop to think how others may be hurt by it.”
Unfortunately, no amount of open letters could erase Iggy’s old school (read: racist) social media presence. Because while names and accents can be changed, Twitter screenshots are forever. A host of talented sleuths—aka teenagers with 4G—uncovered a bunch of offensive Iggy tweets, dealing in all sorts of racial stereotypes, circa 2010-2012. Azalea tweeted a multi-part response, culminating in the strange defense: “remember there was a time when my twitter was just for my friends and family to see.” Is it just me, or did that pseudo-apology for racist tweets read like an insistence that Iggy Azalea’s entire personal life is lily-white?
Weirdly enough, Iggy’s promise that those racist jokes were only intended for her white friends didn’t exactly earn her an ally award, or a cookie. Between Snoop Dogg throwing out offensive memes, Nicki Minaj subtweeting from the BET stage, and having to constantly duck in the face of Azealia Banks’s unrelenting shade, Iggy was quickly becoming the most heckled hip-hop artist of all time.
In the wake of Ferguson tensions, Iggy’s little race problem that could once again fought its way to the forefront of the hip-hop conversation, sparked by Banks tweeting, “its funny to see people Like Igloo Australia silent when these things happen... Black Culture is cool, but black issues sure aren’t huh?” Not content to put Iggy on blast with a nickname that’s easily wittier than anything on The New Classic, Banks went on Hot 97 to rage against the cultural erasure that Iggy Azalea represents. To hear Banks tell it, this story isn’t about two confusingly similar names and a white rapper’s ignorant art—it’s about a history of honoring white performers for their black sound, and ignoring black creators and innovators in the process. Iggy responded by criticizing Banks’s “piss-poor attitude.” Sick burn?
After a well-meaning hip-hop history lesson from A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, Azalea tweeted “im also not going to sit on twitter & play hip hop squares with strangers to somehow prove i deserve to be a fan of or influenced by hiphop.” While Iggy was busy insisting that she didn’t have to prove herself, she lost all four of the Grammys for which she was nominated, was exposed as a freestyling farce, and was even bested by a Papa John’s delivery man. In what felt like a matter of minutes, Iggy had gone from one of hip-hop’s most promising new acts to a washed-up lady who spent her spare time screaming at the pizza guy.
Then again, it’s not all bad news for the other Azalea—this June, the rapper got engaged to Los Angeles Laker Nick “Swaggy P” Young. Judging by Iggy’s proud post-engagement Instagram, captioned “Happiest Day,” the fatigued artist isn’t exactly mourning her career. Maybe the formerly beloved Iggy is finally ready to graduate from the XXL freshman class with her MRS degree.