When people think of rap music, it’s very rare that they think of Australia and the land down under. That is, until a couple of years ago when Amythest Amelia Kelly – known by her stage and performance name Iggy Azalea – stormed onto the world stage with her acerbic rapping skills and her statuesque good look, making her a double threat and a media darling by the time her first album single “Work” rolled around and a long-standing feud with fellow female up-and-coming rapper Azealia Banks had been established.
After several scrapped dates, and a brief stint in record company hell, Iggy has finally unveiled her debut album, the intriguingly-titled The New Classic, and it’s largely a solid, if somewhat unoriginal collection of 21st century hip-hop tracks that dabble into other genres whilst remaining firmly rooted by Iggy’s top-notch rapping skills and an aesthetic established by the music videos of the singles – bright, clear, and entertaining to boot.
The singles highlight the many sides of the album well – trailer “Work” is a statement of Iggy’s life and past, setting her up as a valkyrie ready to take the world by storm after years of hard work, while lead single “Change Your Life,” a team up with her record labelmate, mentor, and friend T.I., is all about Iggy taking on the leadership role to the listener, and helping a positive change. The music even gets a little dancier with UK single, “Bounce,” an electronic dance song that is irreverent and fun, giving Iggy a chance to make a mark on the dancefloor in a rare turn in that direction.
The upbeat cuts are just as well-produced as the singles – the electronic-heavy “New Bitch” is a sparkling ode to a new relationship, “Goddess” is a feminist empowerment anthem, and the stellar Rita Ora collaboration “Black Widow” deserves single status for its whipcrack-quick lyrics, Katy Perry co-write, and utterly infectious beat. US single “Fancy” also benefits from Azalea’s collaboration efforts, roping in English chanteuse and co-creator of “I Love It” (a.k.a. the song of summer 2013), Charli XCX, for a guest spot.
Some of the songs do sound a little similar upon reflection, more of a nod that Iggy’s strengths lie in viciously brilliant barbs and high-energy tunes, rather than exercises in balladry – “Impossible is Nothing” is a bit of a damp squib when compared to the punchier efforts that deal in the same material, and other songs fail to make a stronger effort.
Fortunately the stronger songs and the singles make a big, effervescent, and colorful debut for one of hip-hop’s most surprising new faces and voices. The secret to Iggy’s success won’t just be on how she capitalizes on this album; it’ll be on what she does in the future, to keep her slow but sure ascent, something we’ll be watching eagerly and hopefully.