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Iggy Azalea has had quite a circuitous journey to the release of her debut album, The New Classic, on Grand Hustle/Def Jam, which has already yielded four singles, the latest of which, “Fancy,” is showing signs of being her breakthrough, rising from 15 to 11 on Billboard‘s latest Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
The video, featuring Charli XCX, is a take-off on the 1995 movie Clueless, with Azalea channeling Alicia Silverstone as the ultimate valley girl, and the single has just been added to Z100 in New York.
Azalea has gone from her native Australia to Miami, Atlanta and L.A. trying to launch her fledgling rap career, getting dropped by Interscope Records along the way, after feuding with fellow rapper Azealia Banks, who criticized a lyric in her song, “D.R.U.G.S.,” about being a “runaway slave.” Iggy recently told Billboard she resisted being discriminated against in hip-hop circles because of her color and origin. “Why is it that you can have The Rolling Stones, but a white rapper is weird?”
Now signed by T.I. to his Grand Hustle label, her latest album hit retail today to somewhat mixed reviews.
Offering his review in the form of a report card, The New York Times‘ Jon Caramanica calls Azalea “ambitious … an extremely hard worker, but so much so that what’s loudest much of the time is the labor involved, not the art itself. … [Her] complete commitment to character and form compensate slightly for the unrelenting weirdness.”
“Iggy Azalea will be around for the long haul,” XXL‘s Kellan Miller declares, proclaiming her “equal-parts stubborn and unflinching persistence has garnered the respect of hip-hop royalty like Nas and 2 Chainz,” adding “there is too much good here to say with a straight face that Iggy will amount to nothing more than a flash in the pan.” Still, he avers, “Iggy veers off course in an all-too-contrived effort to meet the quota of her colossal ambition.”
Rolling Stone‘s Simon Vozick-Levinson says, in a 2½ star review, “Iggy swaggers through her first LP with all the zero-f—ks-given zest of the Nineties baby she is …[dressing] them up in the kind of shamelessly poppy hooks that make Top 40 programmers giggle in delight and ‘real hip-hop heads’ shake theirs sadly.”
Even less impressed is Spin magazine’s Alfred Soto: “A competent rapper with a decent ear for hooks, but that’s about it.”
Time magazine’s Nolan Feeney offers his own tepid assessment: “Azalea gets brownie points for the gutsy name, but simply calling your record a classic does not a classic make — rather her debut is a paint-by-numbers exercise in what a modern rap album should be: a song name-dropping brands here, a chilled-out track asking for alone-time and admonishing hangers-on there. … Often, the songs don’t feel like her own.”
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