Iggy Azalea Talks ‘The New Classic,’ Twerking Overload & Embracing Scandal [Exclusive Interview]
All eyes are on Iggy Azalea as she steps into a secluded private dining hall at the posh Mondrian SoHo Hotel in New York City. She’s here to be interviewed by eager journalists and to promote her boldly-titled debut ‘The New Classic.’
Her very existence confounds almost every stereotype of what a rapper is supposed to be like. Her gender, her pale skin and blonde hair, and even her nationality (Australian) make her an atypical candidate for mainstream hip-hop superstardom. But this is America, Land of Possibilities. A few blocks away, an Anthony Trollope quote painted on a store wall reads, “No other city is so intensely American as New York.” Azalea may not have roots in U.S. soil, but her successful immersion into the hip-hop world and the city which gave birth to the genre prove with a little bit of ‘Work’ even a young girl from Australia can live the American Dream.
Iggy Azalea has become part of the rap conversation through her affiliation with T.I.‘s Grand Hustle label and signing to Island Def Jam. Her rise may seem invasive since she is an Aussie rhymer taking on a southern-flavored style of hip-hop — southern drawl, fast tempos and all. Regardless, she has found success, being crowned as one of XXL’s 2012 Freshman Class, had her first charting hit with this year’s ‘Work’ and earlier this week, she debuted the ‘Change Your Life’ EP.
If the aggressive electronic influences, intensely clubby percussion patterns and synths and catchy hooks in her songs don’t leap out at you, her personality will. Iggy’s candor is not lost on someone who’s read her various interviews, where she’s talked about having sex at a young age and questioning Miley Cyrus promotion of twerking.
She’s especially expressive in person. Iggy doesn’t lie back and politely take questions. She’s in your face, literally. Leaning forward as if she’s unaware how her beauty may be intimidating for some, she thoroughly attacks questions flung at her in a manner that’s blunt, never crass, but always unapologetic.
“If you feel like there’s a question that you don’t want to answer and people can tell that, that’s the thing that’s going to poke out forever,” she tells The Boombox. “It will be the bane of your f—ing existence.”
And on any future backlash or scandal?
“I say if anybody released topless pictures of me, it wouldn’t really matter would it? Because I’ve already shown my tits,” the rapper states. “You just got to own your whole thing. You should not be ashamed, if anything it makes you more relatable.”
An instance this refers to is in her latest video — ‘Change Your Life’ featuring T.I. — in which she emerges from a pool wearing a nipple-revealing swimsuit — her lady parts painted red. That’s just within the opening minute of the video. The latter scenes are a ‘Showgirls’ shout-out where she dances in cabaret attire, gets arrested, makes love on a car and lights another on fire. It doesn’t make much sense from a narrative standpoint (neither does ‘Showgirls’) but it’s showy, just like her escapades in India in the visual for ‘Bounce’ and her road trip in ‘Work.’
Iggy says her future music videos will follow that format — a focus on creating well-choreographed events that recall the Missy Elliott and Aaliyah visuals of the late-90s to early Aughts. She wasn’t even in her teenage years during that era, so her childhood amazement comes out as she enthusiastically speaks about her influences.
“I was a kid watching music videos, which were so cool and made me want to learn how to dance,” Iggy shares. “I wish I could’ve gone to dance classes and learn like hip-hop dancing. I was from the country. I didn’t get to have that, but I wanted to learn how to do those moves. Now I feel like a lot of the times it is just video vixens. How do you take a turn from that? From dancing with dancers to video vixens.”
The goal slightly switches up in the process of making her forthcoming album, ‘The New Classic.’ While the term “classic” tends to refer to hip-hop’s golden year, she seeks to make a new body of work that will be retrospectively lauded as a representation of the genre’s evolving sound.
“I guess that’s what ‘The New Classic’ is like: Me wanting to experiment with those things and saying it’s a mix and what about it is the new sound,” the blonde rhymer explains. “It’s not like I’m creating the new sound. I think the sound of our now involves these elements. I think this is our classic and these sounds are classic for our generation. I think that in 10 years people will wish that they had this moment.
“I think we get obsessed with golden era and mimicking it instead of just drawing inspiration and creating our own thing.”
Despite her aspirations and openness about everything else, she stays relatively tight-lipped about which songs or collaborations are featured on ‘The New Classic.’ Iggy says she’d rather have ‘Bounce’ as a bonus track since it doesn’t “sonically” fit in with the rest of the album and ‘Work’ serves as “the turn of the album.” She also has a reggae collabo, but stressed it’s not going to be Sean Paul, even though they’ve teamed up for a track on his upcoming ‘Full Frequency’ LP.
Another note: Don’t expect more cuts like ‘Work.’
“When I listen to the album back, I think this is more of a mid-tempo record. It’s more like a ‘Change Your Life’ pace,” she discloses. “Everything I do is more upbeat and bass-driven and this is probably a bit slower than what people are used to. But I think it’s good as an artist; I’ve had enough of those songs to last me for a while. I need something else.
“I understand why people are like, ‘Oh, Iggy! She likes twerking.’ That’s not all that I f—ing love. It’s not even my top five favorite things, you know. I really want this album to come out so people can understand.”
Fans must wait until February 2014, when Iggy says ‘The New Classic’ will arrive, to digest that.