Iggy Azalea - The New Classic
Since breaking last year after tirelessly working the underground rap scene, Iggy Azalea has promised to be a pop proposition to watch. Never has a debut album title fronted so much; of course, cockiness is part of the rap game and props to Azalea for going big and not going home - but, a few strong tracks aside, The New Classic is disappointingly middling.
Of course, Azalea doesn't need one TMF reviewer to validate her efforts with Top 20 singles and a million Instagram followers behind her. She's already done the hard work making it from rap battles in Miami (by way of Australia) to the MTV mainstream, so it makes complete sense that The New Classic is fully-tooled to position her as the successor to Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday rap princess. If only there was a little bit more canny charm on display alongside the swagger, rather than the patchy fillers that feel secondary to a goal of getting Iggy front and centre at awards ceremonies, dripping in the Tom Ford and Louboutins that she so readily namechecks.
What works here does so with easy sass, the prime example being current single 'Fancy' which teams an indefatigable Azalea up with Charlie XCX, herself clearly riding a chart-clout wave of bratty anthemic genius following last year's brush with Icona Pop. 'Fancy' is ridiculous but relish it, as it's the rare type of crossover to hark back to the minimalist future-pop glory days of The Neptunes and we might only get one or two more animals like it this year. Underground breakout 'Work' flips the bird to Miley's attention-seeking with a truly twerk-worthy four minutes, which remains a perfect calling card by displaying the sly sense of humour ("head over heels" anyone?) that is missing elsewhere.
Those are the aces in the deck, but there are other party favours. Opener 'Walk the Line' is a suitably stirring start (even if Azalea's 'I'm an underdog, me' schtick becomes tiresome by track three), 'Fuck Love' is silly but will sound Diplo-level immense after three tequilas, and 'Goddess' pits a warrior-woman flow against a backdrop of rock-rap guitars. Problems are inevitable though when you have that Rita girl (y'know, Rita Ora) on a track co-written by Katy Perry - would you be shocked by my assessment that it's a soulless slut-drop exercise that sounds like everything else on the Radio 1 playlist? Thankfully, the rave synths that briefly threaten to turn 'New Bitch' into a fully-fledged Calvin/Guetta 'banger' subside by the time the intro's done, meaning the Ora-ful 'Black Widow' retains pole position as #1 crass culprit (even if, ironically, it stands a good chance at reaching #1 in the charts). Could have done without the dire dancehall of 'Lady Patra', mind. *kisses teeth*
Haters gonna hate. The thing is, I wanted to like the record so much more. I'm a pop tart at heart so Azalea's whole gangsta Valley Girl persona instantly appealed to me, where it probably turned some listeners off straight away. She was here to make up for the crimes of Princess Superstar, to bring cunning and wit to the femme-rap game now that Minaj has had a Guetta makeover. I mean, closest contender Azealia Banks is expending more energy on Twitter than on her debut album, so it was all for Azalea to take. The promise is still there, but how many 'classics' does it take to deliver a real one?