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Tuesday July 29, 2014
Feature of the Week

[Nobody's Smiling] Hope for Chicago.

Common Review

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Editorial: Iggy Azalea and Cultural Appropriation

Editorial courtesy of Steve 'Flash' Juon:

[Is Iggy Azalea a little TOO fancy for her own good?]Last week ?uestlove opened Pandora's Box not by criticizing Iggy Azalea as an interloper in hip-hop but by DEFENDING her place in the music and culture of 2014 as "a game changer." Sayeth Mr. Thompson: "You know, we as black people have to come to grips that hip-hop is a contagious culture." I encourage you to read the full article so that we don't shortchange or misrepresent his position on the issue but to briefly summarize he's implying that Iggy's status is a NON-issue. He's even cool with the Australian-born rapper mimicking an American and arguably Southern rap accent. "I'm in the middle of the approximation of the enunciation, I'll say. Part of me hopes she grows out of that and says it with her regular dialect - I think that would be cooler. But, yeah, 'Fancy' is the song of the summer." Apparently it's all good in the 2-1-5.

The debate about whether Iggy's faux-Southern accent was acceptable either in the U.S. hip-hop scene or to her Aussie peers back home leads inexorably to a discussion that's been quietly simmering for some time. A few of my peers from the kicked it around after ?uest dropped his bombshell and the conversation surprised me by noting that Iggy was essentially doing what black rappers from New York had already been doing for years - mimicking their Southern counterparts. It's easy to paint a face on cultural appropriation when a "white rapper" is doing "black music" but when a Harlemite like A$AP Rocky goes viral with the kind of slow, syrupy rap that's traditionally though of as Southern it seems to get the same free pass that Mr. Thompson is offering Ms. Kelly. In hindsight all the discussion of the white girl wearing the gold grill in his "Purple Swag" video could even be read as a distraction tactic - letting the focus on hip-hop appropriation be directed her way instead of his, despite the fact he was branding himself "Texas trill" in his lyrics.

What's in a swagger jack, and how much jacking is going too far? When Chuck D branded Elvis Presley "straight up racist.. simple and plain" it was easy to understand the context: Elvis had clearly adopted the rhythm 'n blues music he heard in his style, and many of the songs he covered in his career were done first by black musicians who did not receive the same fame or accolades as Mr. Presley. The question of whether or not Presley was intentionally racist turns out to not be quantifiable in simple polemics, and much like Iggy Azalea may in fact be due to a genuine love of the music and culture he performed. There's as much or more anecdotal evidence to say Presley wasn't a racist than to confirm he was, but Public Enemy's music colored my view on the issue that I still view his legacy with an eye of suspicion. "Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps."

Iggy Azalea presents a much more easily identifiable target than Elvis Presley. From Tupelo to Memphis, Presley's background made him sound like the artists he admired, simply by growing up in a Southern environment. Azalea hailing from Australia means that to most observers here or overseas that she should SOUND Australian, although as some of my RMHH friends said there are certain Aussie rappers who "lay it on thick" to purposefully sound LESS like their American counterparts and win over the local fans. Accents add a dimension to swagger jacking that makes it infinitely more complex to decide if someone is perpetrating a fraud. Is Action Bronson really a Ghostface Killah ripoff, or is it fair to say they sound like each other because they BOTH sound like New York City?

Thus the issue of what is "cultural appropriation" and what isn't can't be simplified to the degree ?uestlove intimates when he says "hip-hop is a contagious culture." That's certainly true or a white kid born in Iowa wouldn't be writing an editorial about the subject right now. Though my friends in the 1990's liked to joke that "Whiteboyz" was based on my life story, I had more respect for hip-hop than to affect an accent and act like something I was not. I was convinced then (and still am now) that being a "hip-hop nerd" was my contribution to the culture - being exactly who I am, born exactly where I was, but still being passionate about the arts. Since I'm not a performing artist that works for me. As hip-hop continues to grow though the debate is going to continue to shift. There will be Vietnamese rappers who sound like they're from New York, Los Angeles or Atlanta. There will be rappers from Seattle who sound like they're Australian. Do these examples seem extreme? Four years ago if you told me a white woman from Australia would sound like T.I. I would have said that was absurd too.

?uest may be right but it's still worth examining the kind of cultural appropriation that's not only outside but INSIDE hip-hop. Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery, and though I like both A$AP Rocky and Iggy Azalea, it goes beyond dope music at some point to an issue of originality. If everybody sounded like they were from the Bay, would the Bay still be as dope? Would Iggy be as hot if she sounded like she was from Minneapolis? Artistic creativity demands the freedom to imitate other regions, styles and sounds - and when West coast artists cover East coast rappers or vice versa we call it a tribute. I don't think Iggy is "paying tribute" to the South, but "Fancy" is definitely a big song, and there are big implications to where she goes from here.

The Hip-Hop Shop #281 - Gotta Get It Right Now

It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #281 is Gotta Get It Right Now. Enjoy new ish from Git x Hubbs, Minty Burns, Smif-N-Wessun and Nick Nemesis among others! Feel free to share this show and remember - you can follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new show when it's released each Tuesday.

Download Here (right click to save)

Tracks featured this week:

* Git x Hubbs - Zoo
* V. Nova f/ Smif-N-Wessun - Abstract Art
* Looni - Right Now
* Stevie Rogers & Henry Stuart f/ Abby - 3Sum
* Bad Nuze f/ Rapper Big Pooh - Fight
* Nick Nemesis - Believe
* Kid Sean - If I Could
* Minty Burns f/ The Incomparable Shakespeare - Gotta Get It

Free Album: Double J - "Ignorance Is Bliss" (@Double_J502)

Free Album: Double J - "Ignorance Is Bliss"

Wanja: "Ignorance Is Bliss is basically about how people don't realize they are missing out on certain things. It was created in the span of 6 months, with lots of anger and frustration because, I was being told how talented I am yet receiving little recognition. The album is a showcase of how to rap about different subjects and with different styles throughout."

Video: Trel Mack f/ Petter Jones - "Hell Yeah" (@trelmack @petterjonesske @QtheQuestion)

Video: Trel Mack f/ Petter Jones - "Hell Yeah"

Q: This video was long overdue as it was requested by many fans and now here it is. Trel Mack is currently working on his "The Night Before the Dawn" EP and Petter Jones will release "Super Saiyan" mixtape this year.

Video: The Other Guys "Turn the Lights Out" (@OtherGuysMusic @HiPNOTT)

Video: The Other Guys - "Turn the Lights Out"

HiPNOTT: The DMV duo had this video in the stash for the official album version, which you can find on Seeds of Ambition.

Audio: @mr_vnova @smifnwessun - "Abstract Art" (@DunnDealPR @thecrackfactory)

Audio: V. Nova & Smif-N-Wessun - "Abstract Art"

Dunn Deal: Brooklyn rapper V. Nova presents "Abstract Art", his new single featuring Smif-N-Wessun. Produced by The Crack Factory, "Abstract Art" is set to appear on Nova's upcoming mixtape Hidden in Plain Sight Volume 3: The New Commission" (HIPS3).

Audio: Rapbi Ben Israel - "Keep Thinking" (@RapbiBenIsrael)

Audio: Rapbi Ben Israel - "Keep Thinking"

Keith Slack: Rapbi Ben Israel - Keep Thinking ("Da Shiznit" Freestyle)

Audio: Looni - "Right Now" (@Looniism @KradDnim)

Audio: Looni - "Right Now" (prod. Krad On The Track)

Joe: There’s plenty of talent coming out of Atlanta at the moment and the current climate allows for the city to produce several different artists, along with their own unique styles. One of the latest to hit the scene in the ATL is an animated, quick-witted rapper that goes by the name of Looni and he’s currently working on his upcoming mixtape. In order to deliver the proper introduction before hitting us with a full-length project, Looni connects with producer Krad On The Track and he unveils “Right Now,” an upbeat, club-ready track that will rattle your trunk. Looni's project will be dropping in the near future!

Audio: Hubbs x Git - "Zoo" (@gitbeats @itsHubbs @PRDean)

Audio: Hubbs x Git - "Zoo"

PR Dean: BBE/Yoruba Records producer Git and Pittsburgh artist Hubbs return with their 1st Single off there up and coming project to be released soon. Follow @gitbeats @itsHubbs.

Audio: @SlimThugga f/ DeLorean & Doughbeezy - "0-100 (Remix)"

Audio: Slim Thug f/ DeLorean & Doughbeezy - "0-100 (Remix)"

Gold Club: This week’s Thugga Thursday comes in form of a Drake remix. Thugga recruits Houston rising spitters Delorean and Doughbeezy for the H Town rendition of Drizzy’s “0-100″.

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Welcome to for the week of July 29th, 2014!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have TEN NEW ITEMS for your enjoyment: Common's "Nobody's Smiling" (our featured review), an editorial on Iggy Azalea and cultural appropriation, Illa Ghee's "Social Graffiti," Christopher Michael Jensen's "CM Cool J," Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #281, Kid Sean's "Bona Fide," Lizzo's "Lizzobangers," Mighty Misc's "The Secret Lives of Hobbits," Skipp Whitman's "Whitman Can't Jump" and Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for July 22, 2014.

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