Pure luck or sheer hard work?
That’s the debate when it comes to Iggy Azalea. Having left Australia before turning 16 to pursue a music career, Azalea has managed to gain a huge following and garnered chart success internationally.
However, recently she was allegedly criticised by rapper Nicki Minaj for using ghost-writers on her long-delayed debut album, ‘The New Classic’. Iggy’s reply? “I’m unbothered.”
‘Unbothered’ would not be the word used to describe her attitude throughout ‘The New Classic’. She wants you to know how hard she worked to get to where she is, and “how many floors she had to scrub.” The album is her rags-to-riches story.
Goddess is a celebration of Iggy (who else?) and is one of the best tracks on the LP. The backing track of expansive brass, drums and electric guitar paired with Iggy’s strong delivery and lyrics are a force to be reckoned with. “Oh what? A white girl with a flow ain’t been seen before/Bow down until your knees get sore/Ask Bey’ when we off on tour …” Of all the tracks, this should be the one that best represent the rapper’s, ahem, ‘struggle through adversity’.
Iggy’s delivery remains merciless on latest single Black Widow, a collaboration with Rita Ora. Both women are vocally on point, with Iggy rapping a mile a minute and Ora’s voice sounding better than ever. However, the trap-inspired beat never really amounts to anything – the song roars in, only to whimper out.
Breaking up the myriad of aggressive raps, Rolex is a surprising step-away from the spitfire we’re used to from the Aussie rapper. Iggy is emotional and surprisingly sincere rapping about her former relationship with rapper A$AP Rocky. Though the lyrics are a bit out of reach for a mere mortal, (who can say they’ve ever bought their other half a $20,000 watch?), Iggy’s rap is sombre, and ever so slightly heart-breaking to listen to.
“I paid twenty for that Rolly, I just want my time back/I got you tatted, you took off before the ink dried on my hand …”
Iggy displays immense confidence when rapping, and has certainly proved herself to be one of the most successful and talented female rappers around. As a singer, however, she struggles. Vocally she is nowhere near as strong, and comes across as meek.
Her singing works on songs such as on her T.I. collaboration, Change Your Life, and on the dreamy R&B ballad, Don’t Need Y’All. However, Impossible Is Nothing is forgettable, with its soft unimaginative vocals. Walk The Line doesn’t fare much better, with the sharp verses completely overpowering the lacklustre chorus.
‘The New Classic’ is inconsistent, and it seems that most of its energy was put into its singles and its bonus tracks. Bounce is a furious R&B dance anthem over Bollywood beats, with Iggy again showing up her peers when it comes to her rhymes. Work – the lead single – is ludicrously catchy. Laced with strings, beats and synth, she heightens the drama she raps of having, “no money, no family/Sixteen in the middle of Miami.” Fuck Love channels Gwen Stefani, an anthem celebrating self-love and materialism, with klaxons and kick drums thrown in for good measure.
However, having been repeatedly been delayed, ‘The New Classic’ is a victim of over production. Song of the summer Fancy, featuring Charli XCX, features unnecessary repetition of verses and the chorus. Both Iggy and Charli’s vocals can be cloying at times. Just Askin’ is another song that suffers as a result of production. Featuring voice mails from Iggy herself, whining vocals, glossy keyboards and synth, a track that had serious potential becomes its own undoing – messy and lacking constraint.
When you compare these with the likes of 100, the difference is stark. 100 demonstrates the potential Iggy and ‘The New Classic’ had, as Iggy raps against simple guitar riffs. The simple, raw track, is somewhat marred by the presence of WatchTheDuck, who’s vocals are completely unbearable.
Pure luck or sheer hard work? Probably a bit of both. ‘The New Classic’ has cemented Iggy Azalea’s place in commercial rap as one of its females pioneers. However, she was ambitious in labelling this a ‘classic’, no matter how new, and was equally ambitious in her efforts.
Perhaps Iggy should have focused less on her journey to the top, and more so on where she came from, in order to produce something that showcased what she’s actually good at – rapping.