CeeLo, Charli XCX, and Kenny G Weigh In on the Iggy Azalea Controversy

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Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

If the internet's worst fears come true, Iggy Azalea will be called to the Grammy stage today to accept the award for Best Rap Album, after which the ground will open and Satan's armies will come charging out to fight the Battle of Armageddon. (Update: Disaster averted!) We canvassed the pre-Grammy parties this weekend and asked people like CeeLo Green, Beck, Charli XCX, Estelle, Ashanti, Allen Stone, Ciara, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, Sony/ATV CEO Martin Bandier, Rosie O'Donnell, Paul Williams, Jess Glynne, Jordin Sparks, and Kenny G for their thoughts on the matter.

KENNY G (at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about the controversy over Iggy Azalea being nominated for Best Rap Album?
I don’t know her.

She’s up for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album.
No, I don’t listen to that crap. I listen to jazz. There’s plenty of jazz masters to listen to; I don’t need to listen to some of that other stuff.


CEELO GREEN (at the Primary Wave pre-Grammy party)

What do you think it means if Iggy Azalea wins at the Grammys? What do you make of the controversy surrounding her nominations?
To be honest, I'm not absolutely clear about what the concern or the conflict of interest is as far as her nomination. I do have a clue. I want to have an intelligent answer.

Some people see her as kind of an impostor.
I believe everyone should express and own their opinion, but an opinion is not necessarily action, an opinion is irony, you know what I'm saying? Because you have an opinion about what somebody's done, not about what they're doing. So it's reactionary. You can’t stop the evolution in progress. And in all honestly, it's not that complicated to rhyme cat and hat. So the easier that is, the more accessible it becomes, but I really do wish to encourage all artists to take the leap and to challenge themselves, to not be stifled by public opinion.

Are you a fan of Iggy’s music?
I've seen Iggy work her way up. I remember Iggy having countless amounts of content prior to her being discovered by T.I. and Grand Hustle. I even met her on a few occasions. She's actually nimble as an emcee. I think the songs that connected with people — first of all, you can't pretend that connection — if it works, it works, either by default or by design. It's, uh, it's out of your control, so let it be, let it serve its purpose, let it entertain the demographic that allows it, that enjoys it. Then you do your version, your interpretation, for another audience. I believe that many different interpretations can co-exist at one time. There's no one Holy Grail.


RECORDING ACADEMY PRESIDENT NEIL PORTNOW (at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party)

What do you think it means if Iggy Azalea wins at the Grammys? What do you make of the controversy surrounding her nomination for Best Rap Album?
For me, music is not based on geography, it’s not based on ethnicity — it’s based off art itself. Particularly in a world where music travels so easily and is so available that you can have somebody anywhere in the world that hears music from anywhere else in the world, and be influenced by it. So, to me, those arguments and those points of view really aren’t necessarily relevant to how we look at music from the Academy’s point of view.

 

SONY/ATV CEO MARTIN BANDIER (at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party)

What do you make of the controversy surrounding Iggy’s nominations?
I don’t know what controversies there are, but she is one terrific woman. She’s talented, bright, articulate — I love her. I just think she’s the greatest. Honest to goodness, I don’t read about controversies. It’s a lot of "Page Six" stuff. I would rather look at the bright side. I can only tell you that my experience with her has been professional. She’s a terrific writer. I think that her songwriting is very, very representative of today. It’s not passe, it’s who she is. What’s interesting is that she grew up in Australia, but here she is in America, her boyfriend plays for the Lakers, she has a great bulldog as a pet — so do I [laughs]. I think that she’s just a terrific gal.

It would be a bit of a coup if an Australian woman wins the Grammy for Best Rap Album, wouldn’t it?
It would be, but it wouldn’t be a surprise. We’re in a global music business. Think about the people that are up for Song of the Year, or Record of the Year. Sam Smith is from the U.K., Hozier is from [Ireland], and Iggy is from Australia, Sia is from Australia and the U.K. and now in the U.S. The toughest problem I faced all year was who to vote for. And we have every song in the Record of the Year [category], which is also a first. Again, thank God for blind voting, so no one knows who I’m voting for.

 

CIARA (at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about Iggy Azalea?
You know, I am so happy for her. I spoke with her the other day, and I gave her a big congratulations. I mean, it’s awesome for any person to get nominated; you’ve already won. And I’m hoping that everyone has a successful night. But there’s a lot of artists in many categories, so hopefully the awards can spread out for everyone.


ASHANTI (at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about the Iggy Azalea controversy?
Me personally, I don’t knock anybody. I think her being a female, having a love for hip-hop, is super cool. The controversy? I don’t know. For me, I like to support people doing what they love. It’s not that serious to me. She still works hard and puts the time in.

 

ALLEN STONE (at the Billboard VIP Power 100 pre-Grammy party)

Iggy Azalea is nominated for Best Rap Album. What are your feelings on that?
Art is art. The canvas that you decided to paint your art upon … has nothing to do with the art itself. I’m sure she’s not the only one nominated for Best Rap Album. She made a big impact on the music industry this year, and she happens to be a hip-hop artist. So her getting nominated doesn’t surprise me. But she’s not the only one of that list.

She seems to be the only one that anyone is talking about.
Because she’s from Australia and she’s a chick and she’s white. And also people enjoy gossiping. I come from Seattle, Washington, and I sing R&B and soul music. That is not the birthplace of soul and R&B. I sing African-American music. I love it and it’s my art, and it’s authentic.

Does anyone ever give you a hard time about that?
I’m not cool enough to be given a hard time. If I were as big as Macklemore, then I would get a hard time.


PAUL WILLIAMS (at the Billboard VIP Power 100 party)

What do you think about Iggy Azalea?
White Australian women have been making great music for years. Last year, I was one of the co-winners of the Album of the Year Grammy — I sang on Daft Punk’s record and wrote two of the songs. I think the world of music encompasses all of us, from a 74-year-old songwriter from the '70s to a white rapper chick from Australia.

 

JESS GLYNNE (at the Billboard VIP Power 100 party)

What do you think of Iggy Azalea being nominated for Best Rap Album?
I think it’s amazing. Doesn’t matter if you’re white or black or from India, Turkey, or America. If you rap, you rap. That’s what music’s about. It’s about music. It’s not about where you’re from. I think it’s wicked. I did a song with her and I hope she uses it because it’s a wicked tune. She’s cool. Really cool. She really has taken off.

 

CHARLI XCX (at the Delta pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about Iggy Azalea's chances to win best rap album?
I feel like it's a strong category, so who knows. Good luck. [She’s the only woman nominated], so good for her. She's doing it for pussy power. I love that.

 

LIFEHOUSE (at the Delta Airlines Pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about Iggy Azalea's chances winning the Best Rap Album category?
Bryce Soderberg: She's really talented. Best of luck to her. She does what she does and she does it well.

Rick Woolstenhulme: She's got booty and that might win. Booty is hot right now.

Soderberg: If they had a booty Grammy, she would win. Oh wait, Kim Kardashian would.

 

ESTELLE (at the Delta Air Lines Pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about Iggy Azalea's chances winning the Best Rap Album category?
I have no idea. It's a crap shoot, so good luck, girl.

What do you think about her getting nominated in the category?
I don't get into any of that conversation.


JORDIN SPARKS (at the Delta Airlines Pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about Iggy Azalea's chances winning the Best Rap Album category?
I mean, hey, girl power. Let's go. But I don't know. It's always a toss-up every year. But I think her music is great. There's room for all of us — that's my philosophy, so I am happy that everybody gets to do their thing, because everyone has something different to offer. I like her.

 

ROSIE O’DONNELL (at the Athena Film Festival)

What do you think about the controversy over Iggy Azalea being nominated for Best Rap Album?
How bad is this? Who else is nominated? I have to say that as a 52-year-old woman, I'm not up on my Iggy Azalea controversies. But I have seen it on Huffington Post. I see a lot of people are mad at Iggy for reasons I'm not sure of — but I think she's pretty good. My daughter, my kid loves her, she's knows every single word to all of her songs. [sings: “First thing first, I’m the coolest.”] My daughter knows every word, so I don't know.


BECK (at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party)

What do you think about Iggy Azalea? Do you like her music?
Uh, yeah, I’m sure it’s good.

Do you think she’s bad for hip-hop?
You know, I don’t know. I hate to admit it.