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The New Classic – Album Review

 ‘The New Classic’ is Australian born Iggy Azalea’s (whose real name Amethyst Amelia Kelly) major label debut and while it falls short of the lofty expectations set by its title, it’s a mostly enjoyable and interesting listen. Iggy, who takes said name from her childhood dog (and Azalea from the street she grew up on) visited Miami, FL on a “holiday” with friends as she explained to her parents back in 2006, and decided to reside in the States permanently. She credits Tupac Shakur and Missy Elliot as the artists that made her fall in love with Hip Hop and as such when it came down to deciding whether or not to go back to Australia, she rationalized;
“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.” ( Iggy would also spend time in Houston, TX and Atlanta, GA, developing her craft lyrically and absorbing the South’s sound and swagger. Her journey led her to hooking up with the likes of the Dungeon Family and eventually T.I., releasing a 2011 mix-tape called ‘Ignorant Art’ and a 2012 EP, ‘Glory’, which T.I. executive produced. Though T.I. was originally set to also executive produce ‘The New Classic’, both he and Iggy decided that in order for her to achieve the sound she wanted it’d be best if she went in a different direction.

The result is an album that’s heavily produced by a team known as ‘The Invisible Men’ who utilize a core of electronic elements blended with trap drums, pop, and EDM sounds to give it a mostly danceable, upbeat flavor. ‘Change Your Life’ (featuring T.I.) and ‘New Bitch’ for example are two tracks that can get spins on Hip Hop and Pop radio stations. There’s plenty for the clubs as well, most notably the album’s first two singles, ‘Work’ and ‘Fancy’ as well as the very dance-friendly ‘Bounce’. That said however, though many of the beats have upbeat mainstream pop elements with Iggy’s lyrics geared towards club/radio appeal (“I’ve been working, I’m up in here with some change to throw”, Iggy boasts on ‘Fancy’), ‘New Classic’ does have some mid-tempo tracks with plenty of substance of as well. In ‘Don’t Need Y’all’, Iggy talks about her struggle to make it to the top on her own, using her doubters pessimism as fuel to succeed. “Talkin’ ’bout no money, no family. Sixteen in the middle of Miami. Same critics love me nowadays couldn’t stand me. Now we talkin’ ’bout VMAs and Grammies.” On ‘Impossible Is Nothing’, Iggy aims to inspire and motivate with lines such as, “got to hate not to have it more than you love to obtain. Your future’s around the corner, so close you can almost taste it. It gets worse before it’s better, that storm you gon’ have to weather. Either be a busted pip or a diamond due to this pressure.” ‘Just Askin’ is a bit more light-hearted, where Iggy explores the complexities of dealing with an ex-boyfriend when both he and she now have new partners: “You wanted something more, than what we had. What’s up her? She ain’t all that. I’m not trippin’ on what could’ve been. I know it’s kinda weird, I’m just asking.”
 Vocally, Iggy’s delivery packs as much punch as it does swagger. On ‘Work’ Iggy raps, “studied the Carters till a deal was offered”, likely a reference to both Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) and Lil’ Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter) who both incorporate a healthy dose of swagger in their flows, adding attitude to certain syllables, words, and sometimes entire lines, at times bending pronunciations in order to give said lines extra flavor and/or a certain feel. Iggy does a lot of this in her rhymes, and while at times it comes across as overkill, more times than not she pulls it off very well. As far as her lyrical content, there’s a lot of her rapping about her path to success and the obstacles she had to overcome to get there. As you would expect, that lends itself to moments where she’s discussing her past relationships with ex-boyfriends, new boyfriends, haters, etc… And there is a lot of Iggy boasting about her success, with several references to high end clothes and shoes, cars, and throwing money around like it grows on trees.
 When it’s all said and done, my overall feeling for the album is decent, but nothing over the top.  The underlying electronica / pop sound works well on some tracks, but ultimately dilutes Iggy’s voice and persona. She raps with the strength and charisma of a ‘boss-bitch’ if you will and because of that at times the album’s sonic directions stifles Iggy’s strong persona, not unlike a Nikki Minaj on something like ‘Star Ships’.  They’re not bad songs, they just don’t sound organic. That when combined with a little too much swagger in her bars at times and entirely too many “hey look at me, I’m rich now” references ultimately take away from a promising debut release. All and all, if I were a 17 year old female I’d probably be playing this album over and over, but as a 33 year old male, a True School Hip Hop type at that, my overall feeling is that I like Iggy herself better than I like her debut effort. I found myself exploring her earlier mix-tape releases and digging them significantly more than most of the tracks on ‘New Classic’ (except ‘Fancy’, that’s my jam right there). ‘New Classic’ is definitely worth a few spins (and good for parties), but I recommend checking out her other material for a better take on what Iggy’s capable of in Hip Hop. 3 out of 5 Limes.
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

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