Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, born Amethyst Kelly, quit her hometown Mullumbimby, Australia for Miami at the tender age of 16 with hip-hop fame in her cross-hairs.
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, born Amethyst Kelly, quit her hometown Mullumbimby, Australia for Miami at the tender age of 16 with hip-hop fame in her cross-hairs. She came to prominence after releasing mixtape Ignorant Art in 2011 and aligning herself with rapper/producer T.I. as well as collaborating with high profile DJs Steve Aoki and Diplo.
Since then the 23 year-old has performed at several major award ceremonies (including 2013’s MTV Music Awards joining Robin Thicke on his massive track ‘Blurred Lines’), bagged a spot at last year’s Glastonbury festival and opened for Rita Ora and Beyoncé on their Australian tours.
Her debut album The New Classic released on 21st April follows a steady rise to success in the UK charts with singles ‘Work,’ ‘Bounce,’ ‘Change Your Life’ and ‘Fancy,’ which reached top five earlier this month.
The high-glam rapper has faced the same questions about her authenticity as many white rappers before her, with the added privilege/handicap of being an extremely beautiful woman. However, The New Classic shows that white girls can rap too as Iggy showcases her talents showing the hip-hop world what an important asset she is.
A hard-knocks tale
In ‘Walk The Line,’ the first track of the album, Iggy opens saying “not in a million years could you tell me that I’d be here,” showing her appreciation of the hard work she’s put in to establish herself as a bonafied rapper.
This is touched on again in the hard-knocks tale of ‘Work’ which combines melancholic stringed verses aiming to open the eyes of haters who “don’t know s**t ’bout where I was made/Or how many floors that I had to scrub” with a bouncing snappy chorus. This message of hard work prevailing is often explored in this genre but is set apart from the rest by Iggy’s flow and thick-accented delivery.
It would be easy to mistake Iggy’s ballsy self-assurance as arrogance – particularly when she commands “Bow down, put your knee to your face” in ‘Goddess’ – however as you listen to the rock-tinged track you find yourself standing by her side rather than against her, thanks to her charisma.
She’s solely a rapper
Critics have argued that Iggy has missed a beat by not producing an album that displays her outsider status throughout. However this could come across as ‘poor me’ which isn’t how Iggy really is. Her care-free attitude is displayed in the rampant massive beats of ‘F**k Love,’ dancehall banger ‘Lady Patra’ and recent release ‘Fancy’, which pays homage to 90s flick Clueless in the video.
Iggy’s problem is that she can’t sing, she’s solely a rapper. Unlike Nicki Minaj, who just manages to pull off being a pop vocalist (with the help of autotune), Iggy’s greatest tracks on the album are thanks to its guest vocalists.
‘Black Widow,’ which was co-written by Katy Perry, follows in the same vein as her ‘Dark Horse’ thanks to Rita Ora, who helps create a dark and dangerous sexuality which plays on the bunnyboiler femme fetale stereotype as she seethes “I’m gonna show ya what’s really crazy.”
Tracks not featuring vocalists are still enjoyable because the instrumentals work as they follow the same formula: minimalistic with a dance breakdown. Despite Iggy’s vocal limitations, she shows us she has more than one sound with the summery, laid-back feel of ‘New Bitch’ as does the guitar-rippled ‘100.’
A bold introduction
The album’s title may be a bold introduction but I think audiences need a range of songs to allow them to appreciate the unique voice and punchy character of Iggy Azalea. As a massive fan of the Australian rapper, the album makes me tingle with excitement for my next encounter with Iggy on stage as she’s a dedicated performer that enchants your attention from start to finish.
There is a fear that the hype around Iggy could turn sour, similar to that of Azealia Banks. But with The New Classic currently sitting at number one on iTunes in the United States, ahead of the adored Frozen soundtrack, and a firm number three spot expected in the UK album chart behind Paolo Nutini and One Direction clones The Vamps it’s safe to say that when Iggy preaches it’s all “work, work, work, work…”
She’s probably right. And I can’t see her giving up anytime soon.
What do you think of Iggy Azalea’s debut album? Have your say in the comments below.