Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Iggy Azalea: The New Classic (Virgin EMI Records)

Iggy Azalea: The New Classic (Virgin EMI Records)



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UK release date 21.04.2014

Slicked back long blonde hair, red lips and buttoned up blouse. During a recent radio interview Azalea, usually known for her racy style, looks more like a librarian than hip hop’s hot new female MC. She speaks in her native Australian accent, not the thick southern drawl she delivers her raps with. Her debut album "The New Classic" is frustratingly just as filled with contradictions and unfortunately does not live up to its auspicious title either. The irony is that her real life back story is a lot more interesting than her lyrics convey. Growing up a house made of mud bricks in a tiny Aussie town, drinking and sleeping around by 13 and escaping to the bright lights of Miami by 16 is a story worth listening to. Azalea, however chooses the safe option, generic sounding rhymes about hustlin’ and ambition.

Credit where it’s due, the album does open with some of its strongest tracks. The ghostly atmosphere, and sweet hook of 'Walk The Line' is a rare moment of authentic emotion. The gritty delivery of "I’ve been counted out and got stepped on/ Been wide awake and got slept on’” feels raw- or as raw as Azalea gets anyway. The low-fi electronics of ‘Don’t need Y’all’ also draw out a more intimate side of Iggy. With a more subdued tone than her usual bravado, the tracks dark minimalism and alienating lyrics have a genuine sense of isolation. On the flip side, 'Fancy', is a swag filled, ballsy party tune. Charli XCX offers up her best Gwen Stefani impression when singing the hook. Elsewhere, on ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ Azalea tries her hand at inspiring the youth a reminder that “you can do it too young world/ I remember being exactly like you young girl”. While, this bound to be a favourite among Iggy fans, it’s a subject that’s been done millions of time before and it’s been done better.

For all its good intentions and tales about the underdog white girl of rap, ‘The New Classic’ has more misses than hits. At times, the sound is blatantly derivative. The militant drum roll and sirens of ‘Fuck Love’ brings to mind Eve’s ‘Tambourine’. Iggy’s repetitive, vacant, lyrical nonsense is particularly annoying here. The driving dance pop influence on ‘Black Widow’ just about passes muster as it’s balanced by a strong vocal from Rita Ora. ‘Bounce’, on the other hand, sounds like a lost track from Miley Cyrus’ ‘Bangerz’ album. Its nod to 90’s Euro trash duo 2Unlimited is cringe worthy.

It’s a pity that Iggy seems to have thrown everything at the wall, but very little of it has stuck because none of it feels genuine. We don’t know who she is from this record. It’s as though Azalea did a course in ‘how to go to America and become a rapper’ instead of actually seriously studying her craft. The cartoonish, overemphasised accent, clichéd lyrics about climbing the hip hop ladder against adversity, dressing like a stripper in the video.-all the old chestnuts have been dug out here. Pouring herself into this plastic musical mould hasn’t worked for Iggy Azalea. Never mind, Mattel could always use her as inspiration ‘rap star Barbie’.
Words Karen Lawler

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