I’m not gonna lie: seeing Iggy Azalea, 23, re-enact Cher in Clueless in her video for hit single “Fancy” made me exceptionally happy. Iggy being a white female rapper (from Australia) also made me happy. She is pretty much the Macklemore of female rappers as far as novelty goes, and her flow sounds a bit like his uneven patterns—she’s just a bit rustier. Guest Charli XCX stole the show on “Fancy’s” sassy hook (sounding like a hip-hop Gwen Stefani!), but Iggy’s confident rapping is a force to be reckoned with. I’m not sure why the album is called The New Classic; a more fitting title might have been The New Novelty, but this electro-hip-pop confection is an incredible debut. Be warned: this is not a traditional hip-hop album.
Iggy wants people to be introduced to her through her hard work, specifically through the single “Work”, which gives a glimpse into Iggy’s rough-n-tumble backstory scrubbing floors with her mother. The hook, “No money, No family / 16 in the middle of Miami” references her leaving Australia (and her dysfunctional parents) behind to move to America and become a rapper. She landed in Miami. Iggy thanks her mother in the song for her sacrifice, making “Work” heartfelt, insightful, an ode to struggle, and the definitive track on The New Classic to discover who Iggy is. (Oh, and it’s a booty shaker, too).
Elsewhere, the album is chock full of dance songs where Iggy effectively meshes electro pop and dirty south rap. She boasts highly intellectual lyrics, speed rap delivery, swag-sauce grit, sex appeal, and honestly, inspiration. Trying to sum her up is difficult. Production-wise, Iggy introduces super sick electronic beats, multi-cultural drums, and big bombastic sounds, all over her southern-style delivery. Key tracks to hear are “Goddess” and “F**k Love”. The overall lane switching style is so innovative, it reminds me of Missy Elliot. However, sometimes the beats are sooo sick, they drown out Iggy’s flow to the point that she sometimes gets lost on her own album. Also, she needs to smooth out her delivery and tonal range (her voice can get squeaky on some cuts), but that comes with practice. Fun brag songs? “New B***h” is a stand out. Smart concept piece? “Rolex”. There are a few duds here and there: although T.I. lends his drawl to “Change Your Life,” it still comes across as cliché.
A pretty female rap star with mad rhyming skills and pop appeal is a lethal combination – Nicki Minaj busted that door wide open. With Iggy’s lyrical chops, though, she’s a contender. Already featured on 2012’s XXL’s Top 10 Freshman Cover, she wants to be taken as seriously as her male counterparts. She’ll probably have to fight misogyny, racism, and even nationalism, but she’s up to it. Independence and individuality shine through.
The New Classic is not a classic yet, but it’s an excellent start to Iggy Azalea one day being able to make that claim.