Artist: Iggy Azalea
Album: The New Classic
Label: Island / Grand Hustle
Release Date: April 22, 2014
After two mixtapes, a XXL cover, multiple deals, and a year of singles Amethyst Amelia Kelly, better known as Iggy Azalea, will finally see the release of her debut album, The New Classic. While Iggy offers us an album full of summer hits and party anthems, she falls short of the expectations set by her debut album title. The title is seemingly indicative of a project fitting with Iggy’s classic 90’s rap inspired music of the past. That is not however what the album offers. In true “Starships” fashion the overall sound seems to be manufactured to appeal to the broadest possible demographic. Most tracks offer a pretty flat story, having a message of work hard and follow your dreams. The project is overall clean-cut as far as most rap albums go and lacks much risk or any shock value differing from Iggy’s earlier controversial releases such as “P*$$y” and “Two Times.”
As a white female Australian rapper with a southern drawl, Iggy Azalea’s album should be nothing if not unique and that appeal is overshadowed by the electronic sound and pop-like direction of each track. The New Classic’s overall production is not only more of electro mixed with pop but also lacks rap features which may have provided more of a balance between the album’s pop sound and the genre in which it is released. The guest rap vocals are limited to a verse from Hustle Gang boss and mentor T.I., making it easy to forget you are listening to a hip hop album. Singles like the Reeva & Black produced “Bounce” boast lyrics like “shake it, break it, make it bounce,” which even though such lyrics make for catchy party tracks, lack any substance. Though these tracks may not appeal to fans of her Ignorant Art mixtape, which demonstrated more captivating flows and lyricism, they are certainly more marketable. Although the sound may not be favored by hip-hop fans with differing expectations, many songs on The New Classic will be relatable for women in their early twenties who are clearly the target audience as demonstrated when Iggy channels Cher Horowitz in the Clueless inspired video for Billboard charting fourth single “Fancy” and discusses common relationship issues on “Rolex.”
That’s not to say the album is without its high points. On “Walk The Line” Iggy seems to awaken and delivers an inspired passionate flow softened by a chorus sung by fellow blond beauty Rita Ora. “Don’t Need Y’all” offers probably the most honest and informative verse about Iggy’s journey and struggles having “no money, no family, 16 in the middle of Miami” the line and sentiment is repeated and expanded upon in “Work.” The song blends trap, house, and electronic music, as Iggy lays down lyrics like “now get this work,” between discussing the obstacles that she’s faced in her career. “First deal changed me, robbed blind, basically raped me,” she raps while reflecting on her unsuccessful stint with Interscope before entertaining with lines like “Valley girl giving blow jobs for Louboutins; what you call that, head over heels,” on the same track.
As Iggy bends the genre boundaries, she leaves us with an album that leans more towards pop with a hip-hop influence than the other way around. We may be hearing a lot more of these albums in the near future as many fans are looking for less aggressive and more accepting, open minded lyrics across genres in general. Lately we see more and more rappers apologizing for insensitive analogies or offensive lyrics. By crossing into the pop and EDM, Iggy’s album is impacting multiple fan bases. She has created a rap album with mainstream acceptable subject matter and lyrics with a pop sensibility and by doing so, Iggy is on track to successfully do what her peers have been attempting to do and reach a demographic that actually buys albums. On The New Classic Iggy does not offend fans as white female rappers like Kreayshawn to come before her may have and she handles the pop production without turning towards singing and away from rap as Nicki Minaj has. Iggy’s New Classic may be just that in the long run as pop and rap are redefined, but at this place and time it’s the new average.