I get such a kick out of the fuss over Iggy Azalea’s music and let’s face it, her body. Azalea is the new standard of female rappers. The Australian rapper broke the record set by the Beatles by having the Number 1 and Number 2 spots on the Billboard charts at the same time back in May, with her huge hit, “Fancy.” And needless to say, much has been made of her shape, featuring her large rear and hips.
The funny thing about Azalea is that her whole image and rap style, which is very much based on a distinctly urban slang and speech pattern typically associated with inner city Blacks, is so obviously not authentic to her own Australian background. To that extent, she may be the most prominent example of someone White putting on a form of Black culture as a tool for marketing and music sales.
The fact remains that she is not the first to do so and won’t be the last. Business is business, after all. Suburban whites are often the dominant buyers of urban music. And nothing makes that music even more comfortable for that audience than if it's a White person adopting the style. Nicki Minaj is arguably more authentic in her musical style and her physical shape, which is similar to Azalea’s, yet Azalea outsells her. Justin Timberlake, as talented as he is, is simply an imitation of many soul dancers and singers, like Usher for example. But Timberlake outsells them. And this is not a new phenomenon. Elvis, The Beastie Boys, Eminem, even the controversy surrounding Macklemore sweeping the Grammy’s recently, by winning Best Rap Song (“Thrift Shop”), Best Rap Performance (“Thrift Shop”) and Best Rap Album (“The Hest”) are examples of White artists outshining Black ones for simply doing what Black artists have been doing from the beginning.
This trend is epitomized by the current "big butt phenomenon." Black women have been known for this asset for years, even derided for it. But that look is now popular and the new "in" thing thanks to stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Coco, Azalea and other non-Blacks flaunting the look and making it acceptable. Even on the web, there is the popularity of Jen Selter who has made a huge name for herself for supposedly having the best butt on the web, as she has takes numerous photos of herself around Manhattan flaunting this asset in various poses. She has over 4.5 million Instagram followers simply because of her butt. A butt that is of the shape and size that so many black women have had forever. But on a White woman, now it is the height of sexy supposedly.
Vogue magazine recently received heavy criticism from Black women across the country for the feature in their September issue called “Dawn Of The Butt: Big Booty In Pop Culture Over The Years.” As blogger Perez Hilton wrote:
The piece, which heralds Jennifer Lopez as having lit the match that started today's booty craze fire, has been criticized for failing to mention and give proper credit to the countless black women who have historically been judged, objectified, and ridiculed for their naturally large butts and voluptuous bodies, while using mostly white or non-black women, such as J.Lo, Kim Kardashian, and Instagram belfie queen Jen Selter, as examples of the big booty ideal.
Criticism on Twitter has also noted how the article is guilty of white-washing black culture by claiming that big butts are only popular NOW that white or non-black celebrities have essentially appropriated them and made them suitable for consumption for the masses.
Yeah, from music to even what is beautiful or sexy, it seems it takes a White face for it to be the height of popular. Never mind that often others have been doing or sporting the same thing for years and years. Well I guess we have to look at it as flattery because cultural appropriation seems way too complicated for many to recognize or acknowledge.