Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Home grown Hip Hop accused of cultural exclusion

11 March 20150 comments
Australia's latest rap sensation Iggy Azalea

Australia’s latest rap sensation Iggy Azalea

Criticism of the lack of cultural diversity in the Australian Hip Hop music scene is increasingly growing internationally.

As the mainstream scene here remains predominantly white despite growing talent from various diverse cultural backgrounds, the biggest names in the industry have come under fire for not facilitating change.

The industry is being pushed to promote and embrace the huge array of Hip Hop artists that come from both immigrant and refugee, and indigenous Australian backgrounds.

The debate sparked international attention after a Twitter battle between African-American rapper Azealia Banks and Australia’s latest rap sensation Iggy Azalea.

Both women have made strides for their gender in their industry but have argued over issues of race in Hip Hop.

Azealia publically credited Iggy’s achievements to the colour of her skin, rather than her talent. She then criticised Iggy for remaining silent in the wake of both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner police-related death verdicts, tweeting “Black culture is cool, but black issues sure aren’t, huh?”

Criticisms of Australian Hip Hop heavy weights has grow as the industry is accused of remaining unsupportive of talented, non-white, rising stars.

Jimblah, an indigenous MC from Adelaide, believes Australian Hip Hop’s identity struggle is negatively affecting striving youth Hip Hop artists from different cultural backgrounds.

In Jimblah’s YouTube series called “Conversations with L Fresh the Lion”, he recalls hearing about how the negative impact of white dominance in the Hip Hop scene is having on youth.

“I remember hearing about kids at workshops and having ideas in their heads that Australian Hip Hop is the white male story…and that a Sudanese fella who’s come here and been here for two years isn’t Australian Hip Hop because he’s not that.”

Jimblah says the solution to changing that perspective is for industry insiders to start taking action to create the change themselves.

“The music industry needs to bring some of those artists into the fold; provide them with exposure and genuine development opportunities. We’ve had too much talk on these issues and not enough action from those involved,” argues Jimblah.

Though some would say it’s not enough, recently there has been some stand out rising stars. Remi, an MC of Nigerian heritage was the first Hip Hop act to win the recent Australian Music Prize, and at eighteen-years-old Baro is embarking on a headline national tour.

As conversations about racism in the industry grow, so does awareness and gradually the wheels of change are set in motion.


Ruby Brown
AMES Staff Writer