Iggy Azalea...Rap Music and the New Minstrel Show. . . August 25 2014

Is "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea a breakthrough in music or just the same old "minstrel show?"

When I first heard the song "Fancy" a friend had downloaded it on her IPod as her "workout" jam.  I loved it, the words made you want to work out harder for that elusive goal of a perfectly toned body and people falling at your feet as you stepped out into the club/office/world looking F-I-E-R-C-E!  I couldn't tell who the rapper was on the song, I imagined Missy Elliot or Nikki Minaj.

So, imagine my concern when I turned on a televised awards show to see this new rapper, Iggy Azalea, and could NOT find her on the stage.  I mean, I heard her rapping, but I could NOT find her!  I just didn't SEE Iggy!  Perhaps, she was off to the side, assuming a typical position for a "hype man" in a rap production.  Maybe she was by the DJ rapping as he was dropping the beat for her.

Then, I saw this blond woman rapping like a sister from the "dirty south" sounding every bit the part of someone who I would have thought was an African American urban rap artist.

I felt foolish.  I felt deceived.  But then I REALLY thought about it . . .

and I got PISSED!

I found out that Iggy Azalea was breaking all of the Billboard hit lists (only the second act - SINCE THE BEATLES).  She held BOTH the Number 1 AND the Number 2 positions on the chart!  

Serious stuff.

But I could never get past the fact that I somehow resented her success.  Did I resent the fact that her popularity was based upon her novelty as an artist?  How many women rappers, much less, white women rappers from Australia are there?  Was the hype about her due to the fact that she sounded so "black" when she rapped?  No, it wasn't because she was a white rapper taking on this genre, but more because she rapped in a different voice and tone than was her native Australian accent.  Why?  Why would she take on this accent when she rapped.  It reminded me of Amos and Andy from the radio.  Two white guys taking on an "affected" tone and speaking style when they spoke in the voices of their radio personas.  Clearly, there are white rappers who do not assume such a tone, Eminem comes to mind.  Tina Marie, the protege of Rick James, did not seem to take on an affectation when she sang, although many confused her as being a black singer when she first hit the scene. I don't resent Tina Marie.  I do not resent the success of either Eminem or Tina Marie (or Hall and Oates, Bobbi Caldwell and other "blue-eyed soul" singers) but the difference between them and Iggy Azalea is that Iggy Azalea seems very much to be a "manufactured" product of the rap industry.  Very much like the "boy bands" of the 90's which continue on to this day, she seemed to be the product of a "formula" for success orchestrated by her mentors.

Consider the actual rap verses that she "spits" out in her song "Fancy":

You should want a bad bitch like this (huh?)
Drop it low and pick it up just like this (yeah)
Cup of Ace, cup of Goose, cup of Cris . . .

and this
So get my money on time, if they not money, decline
I just can’t worry ‘bout no haters, gotta stay on my grind
Now tell me, who that, who that? That do that, do that?
Put the paper over all, I thought you know that, knew that
I be the I-G-G-Y, but my name in bold
I been working, I’m up here with some change to throw. . .

The verses seem pretty much like a formula.  A series of "catch phrases" strung together to create a catchy and popular tune.  A far cry from the origins of rap music as a socio-political statement, street

But then another voice resonated in my head.  How would I feel about a black or brown actor taking on the affected voice tone of an English aristocrat in a Shakespearean production?  Wouldn't I applaud the casting of an actor based merely upon his or her ability to transport us to another place and time through their acting talent.  If I believed it was OK for others to take on an affectation in furtherance of their art, how could I deny this to Iggy Azalea?

I'm still pondering whether acts like Iggy Azalea are just a modern "minstrel show" or the next step towards a more color blind society that applauds diversity and the breaking down of stereotypes in pursuit of art.

. . .in the meantime, I would love to hear her in a "free flow" session where she raps without the benefit of prior preparation. . .

Just sayin'

Why a Sorority? June 11 2014

 So why have your first book be a release of meditations based upon the words of a group of sorority members?  That is the question that we got from friends and family when we decided to research and produce our first publication, Seasons of Sisterhood - Meditations Inspired by the Wit and Wisdom of the Women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  Truly, the selection was interesting, but the importance of this work cannot be denied.

To ask the "why" is to fail to appreciate the history of the Black Greek movement in our country.  Established at a time when African Americans were in the early years of integrating college campuses, Black Greek organizations were a place where students could find refuge from discriminatory treatment, support for their educational efforts and celebration of their accomplishments from other like-minded men and women.  The Black Greek organization formed an infrastructure that could be tapped into by its members to allow them to advance professionally and personally.  Together, these organizations formed a network of college-educated men and women who could be called into action during the most critical points in our nation's history.  Black Greek organizations were at the forefront of social and political issues designed to advance and uplift the African American race.  The power that these organizations can wield is underappreciated by the country at large, and in some instances, underutilized.

We felt it was not only time to celebrate these organizations, their contributions and their members, but more importantly, it is time to "awaken" the sleeping giants that they are and allow them to galvanize their formidable resources to advance the rights of the poor and the disenfranchised, many of whom are African American and women.

Founded in 1908 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African American college-educated women.  Since its founding, the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority have pursued a mission of service designed to promote unity among women and enhance the social stature of African Americans.  The words of these women are powerful and inspiring – especially given the context of the social and political times in which they lived.  Moreover, the messages that these women sought to convey have as much meaning and impact for today’s reader as they did when they were first shared.  Celebrate the history and contributions of the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority through meditations inspired by their words.

Imagine the founders, some of whom were a mere one generation removed from slavery.  They spoke of the need to be educated on world events, the desire to vote and the wish for full rights of citizenship in this country.  Consider the following:


We college women ought not to feel satisfied with the fact that those who know most about such countries as Liberia, Haiti and Santo Domingo are white people rather than Negroes.  I feel that Negro college women ought to be just as interested in international affairs . . . for we cannot live to ourselves any more than other people can. 

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Founder, Lucy Diggs Slowe, 1933


Powerful stuff.  Especially when you consider that it was shared in 1933!  Our research found many pearls of wisdom from these women.  It created within us a strong sense of pride for these women and an awesome respect for their accomplishments.  Accomplishments which are shared among all of the Black Greek organizations!

We hope that you will purchase Seasons of Sisterhood and share it with your friends and family.  While the quotes are derived from Alpha Kappa Alpha women, the meditations have meaning for one and all!


Peace and Good Wishes!