Iggy Azalea is ’The New Classic’
Since the age of 16, the blonde ambition rap artist known as Iggy Azalea, 23, has been pushing it hard to get where she is today, an Australian outback beauty with a killer flow and a a debut album that declares her "The New Classic."
Over the past 7 years, Azalea has been faced with the slammed doors of hip-hop music executives unwilling to give her a chance. "There were days when I felt very demotivated with people's responses or unwillingness to give me a shot. But, I'm glad I've persevered," says Iggy about her music journey. She definitely wears her trials and tribulations on her chest like a badge of honor.
Having to work doubly hard and overcoming the double standard placed upon a white female in music industry's hip-hop genre, dominated by African American males has provided much material for Iggy to rap about, not as a complaint, but as anthem to those out there who have faced similar struggles but walk away with triumph without having to have sold their souls and become something that they are not in order to satisfy the naysayers.
"I have to work double hard? That’s doubly great for me because it’s made me a better artist and a better person," says Iggy.
The announcement of her single solo record deal with Island Def Jam Records, and touring on European legs of both rapper Nas and music diva Beyonce’s separate tours, 2013 proved to be the year that pushed Iggy Azalea from the talented female rapper that tried, to the budding superstar in the making rapper that could. The release of Azalea’s debut album "The New Classic" (April 22) debuted on iTunes Album Chart in the #1 position. With the album being highly anticipated, its initial ascent to the top was expected, its longevity is yet to be seen. But, Iggy’s track record of persevering triumph leaves very little doubt the longevity is the least of her worries.
While on her first major solo tour, Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, I caught up with Iggy for a conversation about her career journey, her final acceptance on urban and pop radio, touring with Beyonce, proving herself, and the message she speaks of in her songs and album.
Ups and downs
BeBe: Girl, you are just the hottest thing on the market right now in music. Everything is blowing up for you.
Iggy Azalea: Oh, thank you.
BeBe: Even though you are only 23, you have been doing this for awhile, and it’s been tough. You have had some ups and downs. So what’s happening now has to feel really good for you.
Iggy Azalea: It does feel good to me. It’s really weird because I didn’t expect people to be so into ’Fancy’ but they have. I don’t know. I’m used to putting out music and it doing fairly well, but this has been sort of a surprise and a welcomed one. I’m going ’This seems to be a bit different. They are enjoying this a bit more than usual.’
BeBe: Would you say ’Fancy’ is more Pop (music) oriented than your other stuff which is why people have taken to it so overwhelmingly?
Iggy Azalea: Maybe. Obviously, it’s more Pop. It’s #35 on Pop Radio. I think I’m fucking delusional. That’s what I feel like. I had records like ’Bounce,’ and I’m, like, isn’t this the most Poppy-shit on fucking Earth? ’Fancy’ is way less Pop and more Urban than that. Maybe ’Fancy’ is just a better record. I don’t know. I guess for me since I’ve put things out before I thought were more Pop and didn’t get much radio play, I was surprised by radio’s gravitation to ’Fancy,’ even though I definitely think it does fit in the Pop category. I thought if this is less Pop than that and you wouldn’t fuck with that, why would you fuck with this? Again, I guess it’s just a better record.
BeBe: This year you performed at the Dinah Weekend for my lesbians in Palm Springs this year. How was that experience for you?
Iggy Azalea: It was good and fun. I had a great time. Everyone was super nice and easy. I wish I could have stayed and enjoyed Palm Springs. My friend just loves Palm Springs. He says ’It’s so GAY!’ And, he’s very gay, too. He wanted to show me all the Palm Springs gems, but I didn’t get a chance to see (them). I had a great time out there with all the girls. It was really cool. Everyone is just super into it. I would definitely do it again any time they asked me.
BeBe: You just entered into your Monster Energy Outbreak Tour (April 23) the day after the release of your full-length debut album "The New Classic," which is really cray-cray girl, doing a 13 performnces across the U.S. in a little more than 30 days. But, this isn’t your first bug tour, is it? You toured the European arm of Beyonce’s Mrs. Carter Show World Tour at the end of 2013, right?
Iggy Azalea: I did. This tour isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve done a few. But, Beyonce was amazing. That was the first time that I had done any performances in my home of Australia. So, it was pretty cool to do those first performances in an arena. Obviously if I was performing alone, I would not have gotten to do that. To perform on the same stages that I used to buy tickets to watch my favorite artists as a kid, it was pretty nostalgic even if I wasn’t the headliner. I remember being 13 and seeing my favorite artists here, and now I get to open for one of my favorite artists here. I just enjoyed the whole thing. She made it so easy. Everything is so organized with her. Bey has amazing chefs, your hotel’s amazing. I’m so used to touring being a bit more chaotic. Having that tour’s version of a well-oiled machine was fantastic. I felt more like I was on a vacation than working on a tour. I was super-happy I got to have that experience in my own country and have my family around for it. I’m really grateful.
The New Classic
BeBe: Your current single ’Fancy’ is a collaboration with featured artist Charli XCX ( of ’I Love It’ fame with Icona Pop). You think the future holds a collaboration for you with Beyonce? I mean you’re pals now since you’ve toured with her.
Iggy Azalea: You never know! You never know! I think her music now that she has out on her album now (’Beyonce - The Visual Album’) is a much better fit for the stuff that I do. I can definitely visualize (a collaboration) happening now more easily than I could with some of her older music. That might have been a bit harder to gel with my style and stuff. But you never know. I loved her. She’s super sweet but I would have never dare approach her on that tour to do something on this album (’The New Classic’). Maybe with a bit of success and a lot of luck, I might be able to wrangle her on my next project.
BeBe: ’The New Classic’ has been so highly anticipated by so many people, I cannot see it not doing well. Speaking of which, ’The New Classic’ contains the four singles that you have released already over the past year (’Work,’ ’Bounce,’ ’Change Your Life’ feat. T.I., and ’Fancy’ feat. Charli XCX); but it also has something that Katy Perry co-wrote?
Iggy Azalea: Yes, she co-wrote a song with me called ’Black Widow.’ She wrote the chorus that Rita Ora sings. I love Rita. She can really sing! When Katy and I wrote it we were like ’who can actually sing?’ (We both die laughing) The song is sort of trappy, hip hop-type of situation with a very hypnotic beat. And, I love, love, love that. I would describe the song’s theme as somebody who has just finished school and has gone out and left their family, and is now figuring life out on their own. I think it is really reflective of that. All the exciting and amazing things you get to do, and all the shitty things you didn’t know were apart of being a grown up. Like, fuck I’m broke? What? It’s reflective of me being in the music industry and going like woah. I’ve always wanted to be a grown up, and be an artist, and now I get to do all these exciting things and take private planes, woah. But then, shit, deals are falling through and all that, nooooo! There’s all these ups and downs and think everybody can relate to that whether you’re a pop star or not. I think everyone goes through that transitional period in life, and that’s really what my album is all about when you get right down to it.
No free pass
BeBe: There are very few hip-hop superstars that happen to be female, and you are definitely primed to reach that status. However, you are a White female in a music market that is heavily dominated by African Americans. How has your journey to this point in your career been?
Iggy Azalea: It has definitely been trying. It’s been hard, but I think it’s expected. I kind of understand it. Nobody gets free passes. I get the feeling that I have to earn their respect more than a person maybe who comes in and is American, or comes in and is Black. Sometimes I feel this is unfair, but other times I feel I know why they need me to prove this to them. So, there are days that are incredibly frustrating. There were days when I felt very demotivated with peoples’ responses or unwillingness to give me a shot. But, I’m glad I’ve persevered. I’m at the point now where I’m starting to get people in the industry to respect me more. It’s always great to feel you are moving forward. It’s a bag of mixed nuts.
BeBe: That makes reaching this point in your career that much sweeter because you worked for (the respect).
Iggy Azalea: Definitely. After being accepted and being played on the radio with people going ’Alright we like this record,’ it’s very satisfying. Thank you, finally. I could easily feel made all about it or ’fuck you’ I don’t want you to like me anyway. Then, why be mad about it? I don’t want to hold a grudge. Whatever! I have to work double hard? That’s doubly great for me because it’s made me a better artist and a better person. Thank you for that, and thank you for playing my song now, too.
BeBe: You can tell that you have finally made it, girl, cause you were on "Good Morning America" the day your album dropped. That invite don’t go to e’rybody! They don’t call up everybody for that spot. (we laugh). If America wasn’t ready for you before, they have to be ready for you now after your performance on "Good Morning America."
Iggy Azalea: I was like, ’Wait, you are going to let me play in the A.M.?’ (more laughter) You know you made when people are eating breakfast watching you. You know you’re doing something right. It was exciting.
BeBe: On your Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, it stops in San Francisco on May 18.
Iggy Azalea: I’m so excited because it is sold out in San Fran. So, it should be good energy with lots of people there. I’m looking forward to it.
BeBe: In closing, your music is so empower for so many young people out there. Owning up to being strong, being who you are, saying what you need to say are always apart of your song. Life’s puzzle pieces may not always fit in the places you would like them to fit, but you can always say that during the process I was me. I love that message in your stuff.
Iggy Azalea: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. I’m super excited that everybody gets to finally hear (the album) I’ve been yapping on about.
Iggy Azalea’s debut studio album "The New Classic" is available on iTunes and all other online music outlets.
Iggy is currently on her Monster Energy Outbreak Tour with the following tour stops in the U.S. remaining:
Apr 26 St. Andrew’s Hall Detroit, MI
Apr 27 House of Blues Chicago, IL
May 02 Fillmore Silver Springs, MD
May 03 Theater of the Living Arts Philadelphia, PA
May 04 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY
May 05 Irving Plaza New York, NY
May 07 Center Stage Theater Atlanta, GA
May 14 The Observatory Santa Ana, CA
May 16 The Wiltern Los Angeles, CA
May 17 House of Blues San Diego, CA
May 18 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA
May 22 Neptune Theater Seattle, WA
May 30 Festival Pier @Penn’s Landing Philadelphia, PA
For the complete tour stops and the latest Iggy Azalea news go to www.iggyazalea.com
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.