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Gwen Stefani: Harajuku Girl Accessories Were 'A Compliment'

Ten years after the release of Love. Angel. Music. Baby., Gwen Stefani is entering the cultural appropriation debate and defending her use of the Harajuku Girls, the group of Japanese backup dancers that accompanied her on tour and throughout the promotion of the album.

As Stefani recently told Time:

"There's always going to be two sides to everything. For me, everything that I did with the Harajuku Girls was just a pure compliment and being a fan. You can't be a fan of somebody else? Or another culture? Of course you can. Of course you can celebrate other cultures. That's what Japanese culture and American culture have done."

Pop stars love to breakdown cultural appropriation arguments this way, as if their only options as "fans" are to include cartoonish depictions of a culture or ignore a culture completely. This is wrong! You absolutely can pay homage to different cultures, but—while you're doing it—maybe consider the implications of assembling a group of Japanese/Japanese-American backup dancers (remember—the Harajuku Girls are something Gwen Stefani created), giving them new names and instructing them to follow you around like silent robot dolls.

Stefani continued:

"It's like I say in the song ['Harajuku Girls']: it's a ping-pong match. We do something American, they take it and they flip it and make it so Japanese and so cool. And we take it back and go, 'Whoa, that's so cool! That's so beautiful.' It's a beautiful thing in the world, how our cultures come together. I don't feel like I did anything but share that love. You can look at it from a negative point of view if you want to, but get off my cloud. Because, seriously, that was all meant out of love."

Yeah, stop making Gwen Stefani think.

Charli XCX sides with Iggy Azalea in Azealia Banks' hip hop war of words

(More, SMH,, The

Rap rival Azealia Banks has repeatedly slammed Azalea (who she labelled "Igloo Australia") out for appropriating black culture while enjoying white privilege.

BRITISH chart topper Charli XCX has defended her controversial musical partner Iggy Azalea.

The Australian rapper has been the target of hate over the past month, kicking off when she beat Eminem and Drake for favorite rap/hip hop artist and album at the American Music Awards.

Rap rival Azealia Banks has repeatedly slammed Azalea (who she labelled "Igloo Australia") out for appropriating black culture while enjoying white privilege.

Azalea has also been mocked for losing her Australian accent after living in America for eight years to launch herself as a rapper.

Charli XCX met Azalea when she was brought in to write the chorus to their joint US No.1 hit Fancy.

"Iggy's not only a rap star, right now at this moment in time she's a pop icon," Charli XCX said.

"And pop icons can do whatever the f--- they want. They don't have to stick within the boundaries. They don't have to play the rules the right way. David Bowie didn't. I'm not comparing her to Bowie, but who gives a f---? It's just because it's hip hop. There's people who really think about rap and hip hop in such an old school way."

Ms XCX says Azalea is forging new territory.

"She's doing something I don't think many females have successfully done, which is put rap music in a pop arena. Of course Nicki (Minaj) has done it, but most of her big big hits are songs like Starships or Super Bass where she's singing. Iggy doesn't sing. She's in a very unique space. For people who are super old school about hip hop and rap it's hard for them to swallow. Also she's beautiful, white, Australian and female. That doesn't really happen in hip hop too much. It's breaking the mould."

Charli XCX, whose album Sucker was just released, also spoke out against Eminem, who threatened Azalea in a new song.

"That sh-- sucks," she said. "It's just not very progressive. I'm a huge Eminem fan. I wanted to be Eminem when I was growing up. But that was a different time. Iggy's a very nice person. But she still has that rap star mentality She's doing her thing, she doesn't cuss people out in public. She's classy."

Charli XCX's hits include Icona Pop's I Love It (which she co-wrote and sang) and her own Boom Clap and Break the Rules.

(From) Miley Cyrus Needs to Take an African American Studies Class

What do I see in "We Can't Stop"? Pretty much all of those things. It's a catchy track, she's awkwardly sexy in the video and the whole production is a marvellous example of the titillating power of the pop-music machine. But as a black man and a person who is concerned with the representations of hip-hop and black culture in the wider world, the cultural-appropriation stuff is what's been nagging at me. Given her statements about wanting to achieve a "black sound" during the production of the record – and considering the drug-referencing, butt-bouncing, gold-teeth-laden final project – it's hard not to come to the conclusion that Miley has a problematic view of what "black" is. Although whites appropriating parts of blackness to create something that borders on mockery is nothing new in American pop culture, Miley's situation seems to be a bit different.

In the past, white musicians playing jazz or early rock 'n' roll could completely overshadow and outsell the black musicians who they were copying, thanks to institutional and societal barriers that kept those black artists from reaching a wider audience. But today, black artists don't face the same level of oppression when creating their art. There are probably more whites than blacks at any given Rihanna or Juicy J show. Does that mean I shouldn't be so concerned about this whole thing? I mean, fucking Obama, right? OBAMA.

To figure out how cultural appropriation works in a day when the playing field is different – I'm not going to say "equal" – I reached out to a guy who is much smarter than me. Professor Akil Houston of Ohio University's African American Studies Department has been dropping knowledge on the intersection between race and popular culture for a long time. As a DJ and hip-hop scholar, he is especially astute at parsing the goings-on of the rap world and how they relate to larger issues of politics and race. I sent him a few questions via Facebook about Miley and the video, and here's what he had to say.





Miley Cyrus: I Don't Care, I Can't Stop, and I Love It: Miley Cyrus and Ironic Decadence



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