There’s no denying Iggy Azalea’s commercial success. She had a seven-week number-one with “Fancy,” half-a-million albums sold, and smash features on T.I.’s “No Mediocre” and Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” Billboard acknowledged the rapper as their Top New Artist of 2014, above other massive breakouts like Sam Smith and 5 Seconds of Summer. In Iggy’s own words, “It’s Iggy Season.”
It’s also Grammy season, and it remains to be seen whether the two will collide. With four nominations, Azalea’s proven that the awards are taking her seriously, but can that translate into wins? We’re predicting one win for her: Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Fancy.” That win would be unsurprising, and fairly deserved. A win for Best Rap Album, though, would cause an uproar.
After Macklemore won the category with The Heist last year while Kendrick Lamar left the Grammys empty-handed, the media made much of what the win meant for race and hip-hop. The question on everyone’s mind was: Did Macklemore’s “white privilege”, which he talked about openly in a recent Rolling Stone article, earn him an undeserved award?
Unsurprisingly, the topic of race has followed Iggy Azalea wherever she’s gone. As a white rapper, her credibility and authenticity has been called into question again and again. And she’s not exactly helping her own case: she has a history of racially dubious comments on Twitter, she’s never acknowledged the role her white privilege has played in her success (unlike Macklemore, who discusses it openly), and she ditches her Australian accent for an affected “blaccent” when she raps.
All of this hasn’t won Iggy many friends in the industry. A rumored feud with Nicki Minaj doesn’t seem to have much substance behind it, but similarly-named rapper Azealia Banks has sent no small dose of vitriol her way via social media. Calling her “Igloo Australia,” Banks has accused Iggy of appropriating black culture while being indifferent to black issues.
Bandrumors previously reported on another one of Iggy Azalea’s hip-hop haters: Snoop Dogg, who’s playfully mocked the female rapper’s appearance. She was also mocked when a video of her attempt to freestyle on Sway in the Morning resurfaced.
Vulture.com has released an astounding chronicle of Iggy’s battle with Hip-hop culture. Highlights include months of back-and-forth with Azealia Banks, threats from hacker group Anonymous, education from Q-Tip, an awards-show slam from Nicki Minaj, and a word of caution from Macklemore.
Iggy’s main competitor in the Best Rap Album race is Eminem, whose Marshall Mathers LP 2 could be his sixth win in the category. That win wouldn’t generate much controversy; Eminem’s had a long career and has earned credibility through a mix of talent and authenticity, shedding the “white rapper” moniker.
The fact is, Iggy’s The New Classic just doesn’t deserve Best Rap Album: commercial success aside, it wasn’t the year’s best, and has little to offer beyond “Fancy” and the sleeper hit “Work.” It would be nice to see Childish Gambino take home the trophy, but his Because the Internet is a dark horse in Sunday’s race.
A win for Iggy would reignite the conversation about the place of white rappers and the legitimacy of the award itself. Grammy voters have long been accused of not having biased taste in the rap category; will they add fuel to the fire on Sunday?