After moving to the USA from Australia at the young age of 16, Iggy Azalea self-released her debut mixtape Ignorant Art back in 2011. The following year saw the release of her first EP Glory on T.I.’s Grand Hustle label, and in 2013 she put out singles and an EP on Virgin EMI Records. Now, in 2014, those years of hard work and steady progression have culminated in her debut album, and if you’ve heard Iggy Azalea before, you’ll know what to expect: a blend of pop, hip-hop and various electronic styles with Iggy rapping over the top with her signature, twangy tone. She’s kind of like a white, Australian Nicki Minaj and her music divides opinions; people seem to either love it or hate it. Those that fall into the latter party are unlikely have their mind changed by this album, but given the chance, The New Classic might become your latest guilty pleasure.
The album opens on a high with ‘Walk The Line’, a rather mellow track that has Iggy telling the story of how she moved to Miami to pursue the American Dream and how hard she has worked to get to where she is now (which it seems is one of her favourite stories to tell, being the focal point of several tracks on the album). The biggest drawback of this track is that, thanks to the wonders of modern recording technology, Iggy raps no fewer than 90 words in the second verse without taking a breath. It’s something that not everyone will notice and most that do probably don’t care, but it sounds unnatural and was enough to distract from the track itself. At least it’ll be interesting to see her perform it live.
The album then dives into an R&B slow jam for the second track ‘Don’t Need Y’all’, in which she quotes the lyrics her hit song ‘Work’ in reference to how people who weren’t supportive before have tried to associate themselves with her since she became famous. A nice touch for those that know the song, but considering ‘Work’ is the seventh track on the album, it may fall on some deaf ears.
The album slowly builds momentum over ‘100’ and the previously released ‘Change Your Life’ (featuring T.I.) to make way for Iggy’s current single, ‘Fancy’. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the album, ‘Fancy’ features Charli XCX and it’s the simplicity that makes it so successful and unique. With little more than a synth bass line, handclaps and deep kick drums, it really allows Iggy and Charli’s vocals to stand out, and it has a hook in the chorus that’ll be stuck in your head for days.
Coming in just past the album’s half-way mark, ‘Work’ feels almost out of place sandwiched between the previously unheard ‘New Bitch’ and ‘Impossible is Nothing’. Sure, it’s a great song that helped launch Iggy Azalea into fame, but it’s been out for a year and feels like a separate entity to the album. It was created at a different time, while Iggy was undoubtedly in a different mindset, and is a perfect example of why spending a long time on an album and slowly drip-feeding tracks to the public doesn’t always work.
From track nine until the end of the album, we hear a slightly different side of Iggy’s music, where she plays around with some other styles. ‘Goddess’ sounds like it should be on Yeezus, with contrasting instruments and sounds being pieced together below lyrics about the artist’s God-like status, while ‘Black Widow’ featuring Rita Ora has a Katy Perry-esque chorus (‘E.T.’, anyone?) and very minimal, trap-style verses.
‘Lady Patra’ features the ragga artist Mavado and has an appropriate dancehall style, the track itself being named after the famous dancehall singer of the late 80s, and following on closely from that to close the album is ‘Fuck Love’, another track which has an electronic dancehall feel to it with hints of moombahton (complete with air horns). At least for now, this is as close as we’re going to get to a collaboration between Iggy Azalea and Major Lazer. It’s not exactly a lyrical masterpiece, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from Iggy. “Fuck love, give me diamonds”.
In fact, that line sums up her attitude pretty well. Iggy Azalea doesn’t care if you love her. She’s not trying to impress anyone. She’s doing it for herself, and she’s going to keep working at it until she has what she wants. She wants fame, she wants money, she wants to be the best, and while The New Classic might not be able to take her as far as she wants, it’s the next stepping stone in her journey and a platform for greater things.