Angel Haze: Cultural Appropriation Is Like a Punch to the Gut

Angel Haze: Cultural Appropriation Is Like a Punch to the Gut

Rapper writes think piece on race, stereotypes and hip hop.

Published January 22, 2015

Angel Haze has stepped up to the podium to speak cultural appropriation in hip hop. The Detroit native put her views into a think piece for Noisey.com, comparing the hijacking of Black culture to getting physically punched.  

"It’s a weird time to talk about race in hip hop, when so many people want to be Black,” she writes. “But people only want to be Black when they’re white — and only when Blackness itself has been whitewashed. When being Black is so stereotyped by the media that you don’t know what it means to be Black anymore."

Today’s conditions are not unlike the Jim Crow era, Haze says, pointing out the “people” who have created a “caricature” of Blackness, purely for profit. “There seems to be this hypocrisy because people want to appropriate Black culture but only when it’s cool or beneficial to them. Like, they want to do it, but they don’t want to be in it. And that’s the reason that people don’t have a right, to some extent, to use Black music to their own gains.

“Cultural appropriation should be a conversation," continues Haze. "It should be something that people say: Like, why the f**k are you doing this or why the f**k are you rapping about this when you’re not from here? It’s an opportunity for us to reassert the culture we come from: This is what you’re appropriating, this is what we are, as a culture, as a people. There should be so many different conversations happening, and, for one, I’ve learned a lot just from Twitter about hip hop and what it means to certain people. For some people, it’s who they are, it’s where they come from, it’s their roots and how they grow."

She adds, “For anybody to try to take ownership of that, acting like it’s their history too, is sort of like Black face.”

Haze never calls out Iggy Azalea, who typically gets brought up in conversations about race and hip hop. She does however talk about “pop-rap” and which artists fall into the category. “The thing is, there’s hip hop, and then there’s pop-rap and there’s nothing wrong with pop-rap, in all its forms. There are people like Atmosphere. There’s Macklemore — who I’ve been a fan of for years, when he was just making music in his mum’s basement — but he’s a pop rapper and everyone knows that. Pop rap is a thing now; it’s an area of music, a genre in itself."

Towards the end, Haze shows love to “hip pop” and other music genres but reiterates, “right now there’s such a focus on race in the world that it feels like a punch to the gut when someone who isn’t part of a culture dominantly takes it and runs with it. It’s f***ing disrespectful.” 

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(Photo: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com)

Written by Latifah Muhammad

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