[14 May 2014]
Remember Gucci Gucci? Kreayshawn? Something About Kreay? I thought not. She wasn’t even a flash in the pan. I didn’t pay attention to anything she released and it wasn’t because she wasn’t a black rapper. It was because she was little more than a gimmick. I couldn’t take her seriously, and clearly nobody else did. Her label only paid her one cent (I doubt they earned anything from her only major label album), the critics were particularly harsh, and nobody bought it. Well, someone bought it. So for a minute, everyone thought that Kreayshawn was the end of emerging female rappers. Then a new wave of female rappers came along, amongst them Azealia Banks, Angel Haze, and Iggy Azalea. Iggy is probably never going to be as gimmicky as Kreayshawn, simply because she pitched herself as a serious musician from the get-go. The first time I heard Work, her first single, I could tell she put more effort into her lyrics and her instrumental choices, picking gritty Gangsta-Pop beats over EDM and dance music as well as deciding to rap about her life before her new-found fame as opposed to her fame. Even when she does choose to indulge herself into Hip-Pop, like on Fancy, the very catchy collaboration with Charlie XCX, she manages to sound rather gritty.
This may be due to her faux-American accent she seems to love rapping and singing (not-so-well) in. Clearly, the girl needs to get rid of the accent. It hinders her from delivering some of the most telling and revealing tracks on the album including the amazing opener “Walk the Line”. One of the main reasons this track works so well is because of its placement at the beginning of the album. It easily tricks you into thinking she is going to trip up with a track that sounds so serious. But when she opens her mouth, all fears of messing up a perfect instrumental are allayed. Azalea manages to ease into the track and addresses her current state of mind by talking about how she feels about her new found success. The greatest thing about this track is the Drake-style approach she brings. Without overthinking it, she just talks. And that is when Iggy is at her best. When she decides to just rap, without trying to do anything special, she unveils a rapper that would easily be welcomed into a league not too far from the likes of Nicki Minaj, Eve, Lil’ Kim, and Missy Elliot.
Take, for example, “Don’t Need Y’all”, which seems to carry on the sombre thought-processing that she executes so well on “Work”. The track doesn’t sound horrific or cathartic at all. Rather, she does keep it fairly fresh by looking at the amount of fiends she has accumulated since increasing her fame. However, it sounds like album filler compared to the opener. Some of the tracks do not work on this album simply because they either force Iggy to exude too much personality or think too much about the lyrics. Tracks like “100”, which take on a delayed acoustic guitar sample and adds a trap beat, and “Lady Patra”, which throws Iggy into a dancehall-influenced pop production, force her to do too much in the way of braggadocio. Azalea doesn’t manage to keep the lyrics or her flow tight on either track and the features are respectively annoying (“Watch the Duck”) and grating (“Movado”). The worst of all the tracks on the album fall between “Impossible Is Nothing”, which has Iggy preaching – literally preaching – to youths, rather than relate to them, and” Black Widow” featuring the ever-so-average Rihanna (I mean Rita Ora) singing about how weaving a web means dying. No, I didn’t pay attention to feature, even with repeated listens.
However, when Iggy hits the spot, she hits bulls-eye. There three main things she raps about well: her struggle, which is executed best on “Walk the Line”, her swag, which is presented best in the form of “Fancy”, and her credibility, which exists in the form of “Goddess”. “Goddess” is easily the best song on the entire record because she manages to show why she isn’t anything like many of the rappers that have gone before and ended falling to the wayside, male or female. She lays everything on the line, infusing her grittiest version of herself with a production that subtly fuses a drum pan and a trap beat along with an electric guitar and an upbeat choir. The entire track doesn’t have Iggy rest on her laurels; rather, she manages to impress so much that even the most skeptical would rate the track better than some of the efforts made by her contemporaries. It’s interesting to note that the track is also the only track apart from “Work” that seems to lift the second half of the album. Even though either half isn’t perfect, the first half is at least fairly diverse, whereas the second half is just downright boring for the most part.
But I wouldn’t blame Iggy for anything wrong with the album, per say. The entire album had several delays and suffered a couple of poorly performing singles before taking off. To make matters worse, her features were extremely lacking with the only saving grace being Charlie XCX. So to say Iggy will be written off within a year is practically a big no-no. The New Classic will never be a classic, but it isn’t anywhere as bad as anyone will expect it to be. In fact, Iggy Azalea has managed to create an album that exceeds any reasonable expectation and I hope that on her next album, she elevates her expectations and her game. Then she’ll be so much closer to a new classic.