Race has been an issue since you first got noticed as the tall blonde who rapped. Did you understand that some people in the U.S. would think you were fake?
Yeah, but it’s retarded. The Rolling Stones go to America, play “black” blues music, and nobody has a fucking issue with it or thinks it’s weird. But here we are, 50 years later, in the 21st century, and people are like, “This is so weird that you’re white, from another country, and you like black music.” Why is it not weird for Keith Richards or Mick Jagger, but it’s so weird and taboo for me? Do you think a kid liking my music is gonna make rap music some other thing, or that all of a sudden nobody’s gonna like Scarface?
In a country where “speaking black” has been a hindrance in almost every profession but rap, do you see how a white person making money in rap by adopting this accent could ruffle feathers?
If you’re mad about it and you’re a black person then start a rap career and give it a go, too. I’m not taking anyone’s spot, so make yourself a mixtape. Or maybe if you’re black, start singing like a country singer and be a white person. I don’t know. Why is it such a big deal? This is the entertainment industry. It’s not politics. You should be more concerned about the message, not the voices saying it.
If you’re mad about [me rapping] and you’re a black person then start a rap career and give it a go, too. I’m not taking anyone’s spot, so make yourself a mixtape. Or maybe if you’re black, start singing like a country singer and be a white person. I don’t know. Why is it such a big deal?
Have you ever rapped with your Australian accent?
Never. It feels weird to me. It’s the inflection at the end of a sentence when I take a breath. Obviously there are people who rap in all kinds of accents. But for me, rapping is like singing: The breath patterns aren’t the same as when I’m talking, so it’s easier to change into whatever I want. I couldn’t talk in an American accent—I could, but it would sound very fake—but I can rap in one with no problem.
You were asked on Hot 97 if you’re an imposter, and you said, “Maybe I am.” Your friend and mentor T.I. immediately chimed in, “Nah. We don’t do those. She’s certified.”
Tip doesn’t ever get asked about it or have to think about it. What’s real? What’s fake? Of course I’ve asked myself, “Does that make me fake?” I don’t think the voice makes me fake; it makes me an artist. Voice is my medium. I should have creative rein to do whatever the fuck I want with it. For Tip, the word imposter seems like “she’s a mole, she’s a snake.” I look at words for what they mean. You seem to feel I’m imposing on you with what I’m doing, so maybe I am essentially an imposter. I don’t know, I think about things in a different way. A lot of people in the industry like to have any excuse in the world to throw a grenade at me.
Why do you say that?
Because I know it. Some people are supposed to be on your side and they’re not. Sometimes it’s not even that they’re against you, it’s that they don’t give a fuck about you and they just want a promotion. I can’t ever say to anyone, “You’re doing a shit job” because then they’ll tell everyone I’m crazy. I don’t go into detail or name names because it doesn’t help my cause. I know stuff is going on but I have to bite my tongue and keep pushing. I have a mental “fuck you” list of so many people that I know want to see me fail. I’m not going to say “fuck you” now but please believe if I ever get very successful, I will come to your house and come through your window. I wish I could suffocate them with a pillow, slowly.
What’s the biggest fight you’ve had since signing to a major label?
I have to fight about visuals all the time because they don’t understand why I would be sexual in some contexts but not in others. They’ll say, “But you twerked in ‘Work’ and had your ass out, so why won’t you show your butt in this magazine?” I went topless in my new video for “Change Your Life.” I painted my nipples red and I know that will fuck them up. I don’t consider it exploiting myself because everything I do is conceptual. It’s not just tits out for tits out. I consider it art. I’m only ever in a state of undress if it’s for my own project. I would never do it for your magazine because it doesn’t empower me to be naked in your magazine. [Ed. Note—except in Complex!]