Aside from Nicki Minaj, the current canon of female rappers who have permeated mainstream music is scant.
Do some digging and you will unearth gems like Angel Haze and Azealia Banks, two MC’s who have carved out a groove in the hip hop community despite radio and TV passing over them.
Until recently, Aussie export Iggy Azalea fit this category, but her debut LP, “The New Classic” is too loud for radio to ignore.
The LP’s first single, “Fancy,” has received considerable radio play, marking Azalea’s first solid win.
Right now, everything is coming up Iggy, and you could not ignore her if you tried.
But as most party-goers know, the loudest guy in the room is also usually the most obnoxious.
Starting from the album’s title and going all the way down to the last track, “The New Classic” skirts a fine line between boastful arrogance and a revolting lack of humility.
Yet another instance of what I call “Kanye Syndrome.” But at least Kanye earned the right to be Kanye.
Azalea is quick to call out her haters on “Don’t Need Y’all,” where she choruses, “Try to knock me down but I’m strong / I did all this on my own,” a pretty brave diss considering we are only two tracks deep into her debut album, which has not even been on shelves for a week.
Azalea suffers from another side effect of “Kanye Syndrome,” where as a fan of hip hop, you really want to like her and appreciate her ability to flow with the best of them, but a deterring factor, known in the rap community as “Wackness,” keeps that appreciation from happening. If you can sift through the boastful bars of “Walk the Line,” Azalea spits some truth “from country living to country skipping,” alluding to her decision to leave Australia in pursuit of a bigger dream. That cut, along with the largely autobiographical “Work,” comprise essentially the only truth this album has to offer.
Much of Azalea’s criticism comes from her inability to level with her fans. “The New Classic” does not help her cause. At times the personality Azalea lets through feels as inauthentic as her American accent. Azalea uses the opening bars to “Fancy” to make an astounding claim: “First thing’s first, I’m the realest.” Pro wrestling called, and even they think Azalea is fake.
Ultimately, “The New Classic” is a lot of things, but classic it is not. It is a testament to rappers turning to a more pop-oriented sound to not stand out, but stand in with everybody else.
It is a glimmer of hope for female MC’s to establish a mainstream presence. It is, sadly, indicative of mainstream hip hop.
I knocked Azalea for appearing as something she so clearly is not, but it should probably be more of a praise than a rebuke. Rappers who will never make it decry their famous compatriots for being “fake, wack, and not where it’s at,” but if that is what it takes to be a star, Iggy Azalea is well on her way.
Des Delgadillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.