Review: Iggy Azalea, ‘The New Classic’


Iggy Azalea, The New Classic © Def Jam

Aussie newcomer Iggy Azalea shows potential on her debut rap LP 

Iggy Azalea • The New Classic • def Jam • US Release Date: April 22, 2014

“Oh what, a white girl with a flow ain’t been seen before?” Um, well, not really – at least not that much?  Fact – you can name how many Australian rappers are killing the game stateside – yeah, few NONE come to mind.  Newbie Iggy Azalea hopes to breakthrough in the US.

The barriers certainly lie in front of her as the white girl legit rapper from “down under”, but as she proves throughout her debut The New Classic, she ain’t never been scurred.  If she does nothing else on The New Classic, she asserts she is one bad muthaf – “Shut yo mouth!”  The New Classic isn’t perfect, but Azalea keeps it interesting and definitely has her moments.

Iggy Azalea Performing at Radio 1 Xtra at Liverpool Echo Arena Liverpool 10/09/2013 © WENN
Iggy Azalea Performing at Radio 1 Xtra at Liverpool Echo Arena Liverpool 10/09/2013 © WENN

 

Walk The Line” kicks off The New Classic soundly, possessing a surprising, unexpected maturity.  While very much an introductory track, the track sets the tone and gives the listener ‘food for thought’.  “Not where I wanna be but I’m far from home / just tryna’ make it on my own,” she sings on the hook. “And unless destiny calls, I don’t answer phones / this is the line and I walk alone.”  While Azalea could’ve rapped about shallower topics, she keys in on her personal journey (“I was wide awake and got slept on / I had everything and then lost it / worked my ass off, I’m exhausted”).

After “walking the line” all by herself, Azalea “Don’t Need Y’all” – really, she don’t.  “I remember when I wasn’t this big / and now y’all wanna act like y’all helped me get here,” she accusatorily spits on the hook.  Basically, Azalea drops the tried-and-true ‘fake friends’ theme. Throw in the Drake sentiment of “No New Friends” and you catch on to Azalea’s drift pretty quickly.

100”, like the clichéd sentiment of “no new friends” also plays on tried-and-true territory.  Sure, the cut is interesting thanks to production, Azalea’s quick-paced rhymes, and Watch the Duck’s expressive vocal hook (also produces), but it’s nothing particularly ‘brand new’.

Universal Music Groupspost Grammy party - Arrivals Los Angeles 01/26/2014 © WENN
Universal Music Groupspost Grammy party – Arrivals Los Angeles 01/26/2014 © WENN

 

Change Your Life” may not be a game changer to the audience’s lot in life, but it is definitely notable. Azalea initiates her verse with a bang: “You used to dealing with basic b*tches / basic sh*t, all the time / I’m a new classic, upgrade your status / from a standby, to a frequent flyer.”  Sure the hook keeps it simple (“I’mma change your life, I’mma change it…”), and maybe T.I.’s not quite as ‘electric’ as he once was, but ultimately, “Change Your Life” is a new classic – well a good song.

Fun single “Fancy” lives up to its title (or the antithesis rather) and Azalea doesn’t waste any time.  “First things first I’m the realest”, she fiercely spits on verse one. “Drop this and let the whole world feel it / and still I’m in the murda bizness / I could hold you down, like I’m givin’ lessons in physics.” Azalea doesn’t only ‘create her own shots’ – she brings in a burgeoning Charli XCX to assist.

The assist definitely makes “Fancy” click on all cylinders, winning the game easily – jump shots, dunks, etc.  Going back to the whole antithetical fancy notion, well Charli XCX’s definitely supports such an assertion: “Trash the hotel / let’s get drunk off the mini bar…chandelier swinging, we don’t give a f*ck.”  Yep, fancy all right.

New B*tch” is an incredibly proud check – whether it should be or not.  Keeping up with the notion that she’s “the new classic” exemplified, Azalea is just what the title asserts – “his new chick”.   As to why the track is censored on the explicit edition of the album is anybody’s guess, but perhaps Azalea was trying to be classy… After all, she does say, “Damn she is too bad, oh you mad?” It’s all part of being The New Classic.

Work” is definitely a standout from The New Classic. “Walk a mile in these Louboutins / but they don’t wear these sh*ts where I’m from,” Azalea spits assertively on the first verse. “I’m not hating, I’m just telling you / I’m tryna let you know what the f*ck that I’ve been through…”

The hook clarifies the title: “I’ve been up all night, tryna get that rich / I’ve been work, work, work, work, working on my sh*t / milked the whole game twice / gotta get it how I live / I’ve been work work, work, work, working on my sh*t / now get this work.” A solid track with quick-paced, agile rhymes, “Work” is definitely the valedictory showing from The New Classic.

Impossible Is Nothing” features an inspired message throughout, particularly on Azalea’s beautiful sung chorus (“Keep on livin’, keep on breathin’, even when you don’t believe it / keep on climbin’, keep on reachin’, even when this world can’t see it…impossible is nothing”).  Perhaps the optimism of the track is surprising, given the mysterious, darkness about the production.  Even so, the production work is stunning (The Invisible Men and The Arcade) and beautiful in spite of its minor key.

2014 MTV Movie Awards - Arrivals okia Theatre L.A. Live Los Angeles, CA, USA 04/13/2014 © Emiley Schweich / PR Photos
2014 MTV Movie Awards – Arrivals okia Theatre L.A. Live Los Angeles, CA, USA 04/13/2014 © Emiley Schweich / PR Photos

 

If “Impossible” possessed too much ‘redeeming’ substance, “Goddess” is a bit more ‘blasphemous’.  Azalea is definitely cocky and confident here, going so far to spit “While I make wine out of water, turn rappers into martyrs / set it off whenever I-G-G in the place” (verse two).  Of course, Azalea also makes reference to her non-stereotypical rap status (“Oh what, a white girl with a flow ain’t been seen before?”) Don’t call it the ‘second coming of Christ’.

Black Widow” brings in the up-and-coming Rita Ora.  Like much of The New Classic, the production stands out in tremendous fashion.  During Rita Ora’s hook, the rhythmic synths drive hard, matching the pop singers energy.  During Azalea’s verses, the production is slicker, anchored by cool beat and accentuated by swagger-laded synths (is there such a thing).

Lady Patra” is awesome, if for no other reason then its references to Frank Sinatra and Phantom of the Opera: “Classic, Sinatra, Bad, Phantom of the Opera / Shuffle the deck, I’ll be the queen in the pack / gotcha, Lady Patra”.  Yes, ole girl is certainly oozing with self-assuredness, but there’s nothing wrong with being confident – hey, that’s what Justin Bieber said at least :-/ Anyways, the swagger exhibited by “Lady Patra” in all facets (rapping, production, Mavado’s guest spot) makes it a winner.  Of course, it also doesn’t hurt when you’re Australian and can make reference to Shabba, LOL.

F**k Love” would definitely be right up Nicki Minaj’s alley; it’s brash and manic.  However, judging by Iggy’s overconfident, shallow lyrics, sounds like it’s going to be one lonely life for here: “F*ck love, give me diamonds / I’m already in love with myself / So in love with myself…” I’d love to say there is a greater realm of possibility where interpretation of the lyrical content is concerned, but ultimately, I highly doubt there is.  I can sympathize partially – at least with the “f*ck love” part.

BRIT Awards 2014 - Arrivals 02 Arena London, UK 02/19/2014 © Landmark / PR Photos
BRIT Awards 2014 – Arrivals 02 Arena London, UK 02/19/2014 © Landmark / PR Photos

The deluxe edition of The New Classic includes three bonus cuts: the danceable “Bounce”, the broken relationship joint “Rolex” (“Rolex’s don’t tick tock / but dammit baby my time costs / and dammit baby my time is money / so I need payback for all the time lost”), and its companion cut  “Just Askin’” (“…And are you still coolin’ with that lame girl?”).

If nothing else, The New Classic exhibits a massive amount of potential.  For a first album, Iggy Azalea pleases.  Even if Azalea views herself so highly as “the new classic”, the album itself isn’t quite on that level yet. In other words, Iggy isn’t quite on that autopilot swag just yet – LOL.  Still, in a drought of the female rap game, it is nice to hear a female MC – particularly an unlikely one by stereotypical standards – be poppin’…or nearly poppin’.  Overall, I’m onboard.

Favorites: “Walk the Line,”“Change Your Life,” “Fancy,”“Work,” “Lady Patra”

★★★½

Photo Credits: © Def Jam, © WENN,
© Emiley Schweich / PR Photos, © Landmark / PR Photos
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