Spotlight On: Iggy Azalea

May 2, 2014


The new face of hip hop is a tall, gorgeous woman from a small town in Australia whose lifelong passion for rap helped her realise her dream of making it big in the US.

Following its release last week, Iggy Azalea’s album “The New Classic” debuted at number 3 on the Billboard charts. Azalea, whose fashion style is influenced by a combination of Grace Kelly and The Spice Girls, is now the most popular Australian hip hop artist to feature on the US charts. Her latest single “Fancy” has also debuted at number one on the Hot Rap Songs Chart.

Born Amethyst Amelia Kelly on June 1990 in Sydney Australia, the self-confessed Tupac obsessive admits that even as a child, she was competitive when it came to her music, disbanding a small group she’d formed with two neighbourhood girls because they didn’t take it seriously enough.

Confessing that school was a struggle because she felt like an outcast for her choice of music and the clothes she wore, Azalea chose to drop out of school and take up a job cleaning hotels and houses with her mother. Once she’d earned enough, she went to America under the pretense of a ‘holiday’ but the real plan was to stay and become a successful hip hop artist. “I was drawn to America because I felt like an outsider in my own country, I was in love with hip hop, and America is the birthplace of that, so I figured the closer I was to the music, the happier I’d be. I was right.”  She went on to say: “My mum was crying, saying, ‘Just be safe.’ I was thinking, ‘I’m going by myself. I’m fucking crazy!”.

After a few years of working in Atlanta, Georgia with a member of the Dungeon Family named Backbone, Azalea decided on a stage name and drew inspiration from the name of her childhood dog, Iggy and the street on which she not only grew up, but where her family still lives to this day, Azalea Street.  Once the new identity was decided upon, next came the real business of making a name for herself in the industry.

Having been encouraged to move to L.A. and later managed by Interscope Records, Azalea uploaded videos featuring her freestyling to YouTube and by the time her first official music video for a song titled “Pu$$y” was released, her career was steam-rolling ahead.

Following the success of that video, she released her first mixtape titled “Ignorant Art” on 27 September 2011,saying she made it “with the intent to make people question and redefine old ideals”.  Whether people were questioning old ideals or not, the fact remained she was gaining more support from an ever-increasing fanbase. By this point she was more than ready to release a debut album.

However, issues with Interscope Records meant the release of “The New Classic” was delayed quite considerably, but, having finally decided to sign to Grand Hustle Records in March 2012, Azalea was now able to move forwards again, and just a couple of weeks later she posted “Murda Bizness” (the intended lead single for “The New Classic”) on her YouTube account. Meanwhile, tracks were drip-fed slowly into the rap worlds’ psyche via an EP titled “Glory” which continued to keep the artist in the spotlight while the debut album was refined.

Finally, in February of this year, it was revealed “The New Classic” would be released this summer, and as part of her set as a supporting artist for Rita Ora’s “Radioactive” Tour Azalea premiered “Work” – the official lead single from her debut studio album. By the end of February, Azalea had signed to Mercury Records and her title as a bonefide hip hop princess was well and truly without question. From live performances for VEVO to fashion shows, radio shows, and the small matter of opening for Beyoncé on the Australian leg of the “Mrs. Carter Show” World Tour, Azalea was the rap artist everyone was suddenly taking notice of.

Shortly after releasing the second single from “The New Classic” – a track titled “Bounce” – the 23-year-old moved to Island Def Jam Records. Then came the third track “Change Your Life” with the album eventually being released in its entirety 21 April this year.

As the highest-charting rap album from a woman since Nicki Minaj’s “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” stormed the charts in April 2012, “The New Classic” is an outstanding example of how if you really want something badly enough and chase your dreams, you will succeed, and at only 23 years of age, we think Iggy Azalea’s star is still on the rise.

The New Classic is available to download on iTunes worldwide.

-Lucy Jenkins.


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