Overdue Review | Better Late.


Published on December 1st, 2014 | by Andy Sedlak

‘The New Classic’ – Iggy Azalea [2014]

‘The New Classic’ – Iggy Azalea [2014] Andy Sedlak

Summary: I-G-G-Y is all about I-G-G-Y. The Aussie rapper has the hits but her album game is off to a rocky start.



User Rating: 0 (0 votes)

Length: 51:11

Release: April 21, 2014

Producers: The Invisible Men, the Arcade, Watch the Duck, Stargate, 1st Down, The Messengers, Reeva & Black

Label: Virgin EMI, Island

Top 40 U.S. singles: 2

Peak album chart position: 3

New Classic - Iggy

This summer, Iggy Azalea immediately became hip-hop’s hottest new star. But did debut album match the hype?

Iggy over Em.

Last month, Iggy Azalea’s The New Classic beat out Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 for Favorite Hip Hop album at the 2014 American Music Awards. Contrary to my review of the original Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem is one of the most crucial artists of my generation. In my mind, Azalea’s album had arrived and I-G-G-Y had my full attention.

And that was somewhat unfortunate. Because once you’ve heard one, you’ve pretty much heard them all.

Iggy Azalea songs, I mean.

When Azalea released her brat-tastic debut in April 2014, we took notice, didn’t we? Ah, that sneer. The attitude. That’s what we like in our rap music, isn’t it?

Maybe. We also like brainpower. Insight, imaginative wordplay and stylistic range never hurt either. Azalea’s record didn’t give me any of those things. But the shame about it is that I truly believe she may have artistry cooped up somewhere. Perhaps right under the surface. It’s in that space that separates the insignificant from the profound. You just need the nerve to dig into it.

She’s only one album in, but at this point Azalea doesn’t have it.

A 2013 MTV interview with I-G-G-Y herself.

Since its release in April, The New Classic – modestly titled – has sold more than 400,000 units in its seven months on the market. That’s decent for newer pop acts these days, and it was enough to launch a headlining tour to truly add capital. Trap-ish producers steered Azalea’s sound toward reliable 808 beats, layers of up-to-the-minute synths and rat-a-tat-tat verbiage.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is. And every song comes back to three themes:

  • Haters suck
  • It’s a long way to the top
  • It’s a long way to the top because haters suck

Let’s start with “Fancy.” Its completion was truly a team effort, with its six writers and two producers. One of the producers – the Invisible Men – is actually a production team of three people. So it must be tough to put your artistic stamp on a song when at least 10 different folks are working toward its finishing point. Oh, and Charli XCX wrote the chorus. We’ll forgive the line about taking the “fast lane” from “L.A. to Tokyo” – across the Pacific Ocean? Instead, let’s look at Azalea’s rhymes.

From “Fancy:”
Takin’ all the liquor straight, never chase that
Rooftop like we bringin’ ’88 back
Bring the hooks in, where the bass at?
Champagne spillin’, you should taste that

First of all, Azalea would have been 2 years old in 1988. And why is Azalea – born Amethyst Kelly in Sydney, Australia – rapping in a southern accent? This is one reason why people draw a line between “Azalea” and “poser.”

And is there a cheesier example of Millennial-inspired defiance than what’s in the bridge?

Trash the hotel
Let’s get drunk on the mini bar
Make the phone call
Feels so good getting what I want

The clip for “Fancy,” the album’s fourth, and most successful single.

“Fancy” was the runaway hit, but the fourth single on the album. The first was “Work.” Its self-mythologizing narrative about a then-unknown’s journey to the top was apparently uninteresting to the mainstream public – it peaked at Number 54 on the Hot 100. The second single, “Bounce,” was lyrically and musically brain dead. It didn’t chart at all.

The third single, “Change Your Life,” featured mentor T.I. It can only be described as standard.

So Iggy needed “Fancy” to succeed. Badly. And it did.

“Black Widow” is the most recent single. Katy Perry has a songwriting credit here because the song was originally intended for Prism. It was never finished, and was handed to Azalea and her team. The gonna-getchu theme benefits from a believable delivery and is easily the best single Azalea has released to date.

The non-single tracks are a mixed bag. We’ll handle them in the order they appear on the album. Azalea’s debut LP opens with a decent jam. “Walk the Line” does everything that “Work” tried to do – it announces the newcomer’s presence and makes you (sort of) care about her back story.

From “Walk the Line:”
I’ve been counted out, I’ve been stepped on
I was wide awake and got slept on
I had everything and then lost it
Worked my ass off, I’m exhausted

New Classic - Iggy Billboard June 2014

The cover of Billboard magazine in June 2014. The nation was firmly gripped by Iggy.

The slow-burning “Don’t Need Y’all” makes the most of its minimalism. Easing the tempo on the second track was a good move, and makes me wish she’d try it again later in the disc. The next track, “100,” lands with a thud. It’s irritating chorus and repetitive verses go nowhere.

After back-to-back singles of “Change Your Life” and “Fancy,” Azalea delivers the last non-single highlight on the record. “New Bitch” is the best song on the album and boasts her sharpest put-downs. It’s a sleazy glammed-out celebration that, if I had to guess, is completely non-fictional.

From “New Bitch:”
And what I do, it can’t be compared
You well done and bitch I’m rare

The video for the album’s second single “Bounce,” which performed poorly.

The second half of the record is mostly a yawn. Themes are recycled, beats become predictable and there are virtually no guests so the only personality and perspective we get is Azalea’s. “Impossible is Nothing” drags on in the way makeshift inspirational ballads often do. “Goddess” boasts more of Azalea’s sometimes-impressive flow, but not much else. “Lady Patra” crystallizes the mostly lackluster back nine.

Iggy Azalea’s debut ends with the poignantly-titled “Fuck Love,” which I’m sure will resurface as a meme around the time of her first marriage.

From “Fuck Love:”
Fuck love
Give me diamonds
I’m already in love with myself
So in love with myself

It’s a song that should have been held back until bonus tracks were needed for a reissue. Clocking in at a cool two-and-a-half minutes, it doesn’t say much more than what’s mentioned above.

The album itself is short too – under an hour. The keepers are “New Bitch” and “Black Widow.” “Walk the Line” comes close. The rest are the rest.

New Classic - Iggy and TI

Iggy with her mentor T.I., who has consistently denied “ghost writing” rumors.

What gives me hope for Azalea is the person you get when she’s interviewed. She’s more interesting than this album would lead you to believe. And she seems serious about creating records. Bob Dylan has said an artist is constantly in a “state of becoming.” Part of me can imagine a similar line of thinking in Azalea. As her popularity continues to climb, I hope that’s true.

A little advice for next time? We know haters suck. Don’t be so afraid to show your own scars.

You’ll never tell a full story without them.

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About the Author

Andy Sedlak is a former television reporter who lives in Dayton, OH. He grew up in a household that pumped Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel every weekend. He instantly became a new man when he discovered Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” in junior high.

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