Iggy Azalea‘s days of “no money, no family, 16 in the middle of Miami” may be gone – replaced with runway shows and magazine spreads – but her past is far from forgotten. On her first full-length album, The New Classic, allusions to the struggle are sandwiched between cocky punchlines and personal anecdotes, leaving the listener inspired and empowered – something rare for any rapper, let alone a blonde girl from Australia.
Iggy has always struggled to find her niche, between rap, pop, EDM and reggae. She was, and still is, an outsider; She makes music for artsy kids and the club girls. Her spitfire persona flips between blonde bombshell and music nerd (with a big dollop of hustler swag thrown in), making her the perfect icon for wanna-be queens, drama kids, dreamers, and everyone in between. Her struggle was to find that core sound. Her rapping skills have always been on point (Iggy was the first female XXL freshman) but her production was missing that magical mass appeal her superstar lyrics deserved. The New Classic changes all that.
The first single, “Fancy”, is just starting to become unavoidable on pop radio. The vocals of hipster darling Charli XCX add a new level of relevance to the minimal beat and bombastic lyrics. Iggy recreates this successful formula on “Black Widow”, where she links up with Rita Ora. The track is confident but also articulates the darkest parts of a broken heart. The track was co-written by Katy Perry, and the trap influenced beat is right on trend to be the next “Dark Horse”.
Iggy gets autobiographical on this album, something her fans are sure to notice. With a sound similar to Nicki Minaj‘s “Super Bass”, the rap-pop love song “New Bitch” conveys the sometimes unavoidable baby mama drama of dating a man with a child, strongly referencing Iggy’s relationship with basketball player Swaggy P. When she says they have “his and her gold chains” and that his ex is “not a housewife, just desperate”, listeners can connect the dots right back to the TMZ headlines. Shade-filled lines like “You’re well-done and I’m just rare” make it clear that Iggy came out on top.
Things get even realer on “Rolex”, which is her most vulnerable track to date. Iggy paints the picture of a bad breakup but avoids seeming pitiful. The line “I got you tatted, you were gone before the ink dried on my hand” is the most telling. Anyone following hip hop gossip knows she is talking about A$AP Rocky. But when she spits lines like “Damn it baby my time costs, so I need payback for all the time lost” it becomes more than a diss track aimed at Rocky. It’s a poignant picture of what happens when you think you find the one, only to be left with nothing. But like any good breakup song, Iggy makes it clear she isn’t left at home crying – and you shouldn’t be either.
Iggy has made this type of positive lyricism her trademark. No other female rapper has been both sexy and inspirational without sounding preachy. With tracks like “Impossible is Nothing”, “Walk the Line” and “Don’t Need Y’all”, The New Classic becomes a manual on how to be yourself, never give up, and look fabulous doing it.
Everyone knows the feeling of being overlooked or feeling like you don’t have a lane. Iggy’s lyrics, punctuated with her trademark drawl, encapsulate relatable emotion, realness, and strength all in tandem. Hip hop needs this type of swag-filled positivity. It would be easy to veer into cheesy, privilege filled territory, but Iggy has a down to earth essence that seeps into even her most self-aggrandizing moments. The slick and powerful mix of Jamaican steel drums, EDM soundscapes and airhorn accent bring her lyrics to life, making The New Classic the record her fans have been waiting for.