New Zealand artist Aaradhna refused to accept her Tui Award last night (the Kiwi equivalent of an ARIA) while simultaneously calling out the awards body for racially pigeonholing her as an artist.
Aaradhna Jayantilal Patel, 32, was awarded the 2016 Best Urban/Hip-Hop Artist Award for her fourth album ‘Brown Girl‘ (also the name of a soulful and v. v. beautiful song on the album), which explores her experiences of casual racism growing up in New Zealand as the daughter of an Indian father and a Samoan mother.
However, she flat-out refused to accept it, explaining that she felt like she’d “been placed in the category of brown people” and to accept would be untruthful to her music.
“Ok, so this song, ‘Brown Girl’, it speaks on many things,” she told the audience at Aukland‘s Vector Arena.
“It speaks on racism and being placed in a box. For me, I feel like if I were to accept this [award], I’m not being truthful to my song.
“And I feel like if you’re putting a singer next to a hip-hop artist, that’s not fair. I’m a singer, I’m not a rapper. I’m not a hip-hop artist.
“It feels like I’ve been placed in the category of brown people.
Here the audience gave her a giant cheer.
“We need a Soul/RnB category,” she continued. “So right now I feel like I want to give this to a hip-hop artist, because I feel like this is the kind of award for a hip-hop artist, and I want to give it to SWIDT, because I believe you guys are the future of hip-hop.”
SWIDT – a Kiwi hip-hop group who actually *do* fall in the urban/hip-hop category – then joined her up on stage, with enveloping Aaradhna in giant bear hugs.
“Man, last night was historical,” the group wrote on Facebook the following day. “We just want to give a shout out to everyone who has showed us love and supported us on our journey along the way. We appreciate it 300 and 12 percent.
“Much love to the Queen Aaradhna for not only gifting us the award, but for also being the strong Polynesian woman that she is. Respect always big sis. P.S they need to make a best dressed award next time, cos you know we bout to win that every-single-time bro bro.”
New Zealanders are praising Aaradhna for calling out racism within the awards body.
nzvmas: wait.. are you saying…. brown people… are not… one.. homogenous….. group..??
— maryj_oblige (@maryj_oblige) November 17, 2016
What Aaradhna really tryna say is, “fuck white people” ?? #VNZMA
— Dry (@pros4vage) November 17, 2016
Other Kiwi artists are also coming to back her up, including hip-hop veteran Savage.
“Good on you for letting them know they been putting us in that box for years,” he tweeted.
You can watch Aaradhna’s speech in full below.