I stopped watching X Factor recently. I want to say it’s because of Honey G, the polarising, talentless contestant Sharon Osbourne put through to the live rounds. The truth is the scathing, witty banter I used to partake in has dissipated as many of my Twitter friends no longer care for the Hunger Games that has become of the singing competition. Happily I haven’t had to witness first hand the offensive modern day black face that is Honey G, the self proclaimed“Top UK Rapper” from North London, perform her horrific performances of rap classics California Love, Mo Money Mo Problems and Men In Black. The furore surrounding her claims people are using the “race card” against her is laughable when it is her who is using her platform to make a mockery of the art form Black British women have honed for years without none of the support this joke has been gifted with.
I grew up with black British women rappers like Shystie, Ms Dynamite and Lisa Maffia, women who went toe to toe with the men in Grime and Hip-Hop and fought to have their voices heard. I admired their ability to remain feminine yet wield strength and lyricism rivalling that of their male counterparts. They were quintessentially British ensuring they were not mimicking American women rappers of the time like Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown or Lil Kim- they were ours and they were perfect.
Currently British women rappers Lady Leshurr, Ms Banks and Little Simz to name a few, create music and fight to be heard and counted so when Honey G comes along out of nowhere upheld as “great” with co-signs from *deep sigh* 50 Cent it is a slap in not only the artists’ face but the fans who have long recognised their talents. The idea that Honey G is harmless fun is a pervasive lie that allows British people to enjoy black music without having to engage with black people but in this case specifically black women with authentic voices. Did Honey G purposefully set out to malign the work of black women rappers? I doubt it but the thoughtlessness of her caricature of blackness and the mindless consumption and championing of her highlights how easy it is for the general public to ignore Grime, Rap & Hip-Hop as long as it has black women’s faces.
The music industry is still coming to grips with Grime as a genre. Rappers and MCs like Skepta, Krept & Konan and Stormzy still face obstacles on their ways to etching their names in musical history but their maleness is a privilege black women rappers Leshurr, Banks and Simz cannot use to their advantage. Honey G’s whiteness makes her more palatable to X Factor’s viewing audience and despite her claims those who claim she’s racist “don’t really know what racism is” should she magically become an actual black woman with talent for just a moment she would understand while it might be fun to play one on stage week after week, the reality means instant fame isn’t handed to you, red carpets aren’t rolled out for you and more importantly regardless of your ability as an MC being just as good, if not better than men in your genre you might go years without receiving the same respect and adoration.
I hope Honey G stays in the competition a long time so our calls that she represents the most insidious form of racism, the kind that means you know her name and not those of real Black British Women Rappers can be further legitimised. I hope the internet is inundated with think pieces about the woman so these conversations can happen. I feel for the black women in the competition like Gifty and Relly who have losttheir hard earned places in favour of Anna Georgette (the “rappers” real name), this clueless wannabe who might never understand why she will be forever remembered in my mind as the woman who culturally misappropriated her way into the hearts of the British public when there are those who simply because of their gender and the colour of their skin might never know the same level of fame.
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