The Twitter beef between rappers Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks has been heating up over the last few days, even culminating in threats from hacker group Anonymous. So far it’s been a messy ordeal, but cooler heads have prevailed thanks to Q-Tip who weighed into the debate by educating the Australian-born rapper, and by extension the public, on the socio-political history and importance of hip hop.
In more than 40 tweets the acclaimed rapper and producer, most famous for co-founding legendary hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest, eloquently outlined the origins of hip hop, the socio-political context in which it emerged and argued that as an artist representing the genre, Iggy Azalea must acknowledge those roots.
“Hip-hop is fun, it’s vile, it’s dance, it’s traditional, it’s lighthearted,” Q-Tip explains in one of the tweets. “But one thing it can never detach itself from is being a SOCIO-Political movement.”
Q-Tip also discussed the social roots of the hip hop movement, born out of “the disparate ghettos of NY in the early 70s” off the heels of the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights movement. After a brief history outline, the rapper goes on to address the concept of white privilege and its relationship with the genre. Each tweet in his rant begins with the Australian rapper’s Twitter handle.
“Did u know that remnants of slavery exist today thru white privilege? When certain “niceties” r extended your way because of how u look? Isn’t that crazy?,” he writes.
Bank’s beef with Azalea, who she refers to as “Igloo Australia”, began when the 212 rapper began calling out white hip hop artists for appropriate black culture while staying silent about civil rights issues such as the recent grand jury decision to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner using an illegal chokehold.
In a recent interview with HOT 97, a teary Banks again addressed Iggy Azalea, claiming the Australian rapper receives undue accolades, such as her two wins at this year’s American Music Awards, because she is white.
“Hiphop now was FOR EVERYBODY!! All of those who cld relate to the roots, the spirit, the history, the energy…It reached YOU,” Q-Tip writes to Iggy Azalea. “It touched your spirit n took u up. We magnetized you! That’s what BRILLANCE does…now u are fulfilling your dreams…BUT! you have to take into account the HISTORY as you move underneath the banner of hiphop.”
“I say this 2 say u are a hiphop artist who has the right 2 express herself however she wishes,” he continues. “This is not a chastisement this is not admonishment at ALL this is just one artist reaching to another hoping to spark insight into the field you r in…I say this in the spirit of a hopeful healthy dialogue that maybe one day we can continue.”
Iggy Azalea is yet to respond. Readers can, and should, read all of Q-Tip’s tweets, via Storify, below.
UPDATE 24/12/14: Iggy Azalea has responded, labelling Q-Tip’s hip hop history lesson “patronising”.