Iggy Azalea – Glory EP
Grand Hustle: 2012
Quite a lot has been made recently of hip-hop’s apparent developing cultural sensitivity, given the slightly greater number of high-profile female emcees, the increasing willingness of rappers to express thoughts on gay culture that are anything but wantonly homophobic and the slew of rappers whose eccentricities and idiosyncrasies have actually worked in their favor. It’s led to a refreshingly unpredictable musical landscape, and amidst it all the rise of Iggy Azalea makes a great deal of sense: of course rap’s next star in the making is a white Australian woman whose oeuvre thus far includes a garish viral video for a song entitled “Pu$$y”. It’s almost too perfect.
Contextual details like this, it goes without saying, will only take an artist so far though. Iggy may have already released one project in the form of her Ignorant Art mixtape, but the six-track Glory EP is her first musical statement since racking up a few million YouTube views, being ordained an XXL Freshman, and being picked up and heavily co-signed by T.I. Signs are, right from the start, that Azalea is subscribing to Nicki Minaj and B.O.B.’s recently established school of rap ascension: the songs here are slick, polished, and sometimes barely hip-hop at all, sounding more like expensively crafted pop music with requisite 16s tagged on.
In a recent interview with Hip Hop DX, Iggy goes to great lengths to establish that this commercially minded EP is the result of an artistic enterprise, and in no way a “sell-out” move or an indication of her “going mainstream.” As overused and frequently ridiculous as these terms are, they do seem to apply here, despite her protests to the contrary. It may very well be the case that money and commercialism were the furthest things from Azalea’s mind when crafting the songs here, but they sound just like they would if the opposite were true.
It wouldn’t be much of a problem if the pop music she was making was effectively well-crafted, but it isn’t particularly. The choruses are overwrought and unmemorable, the music largely a chain link of thumping concessions to radio, and Iggy’s rapping, as is wont to happen in these sorts of crossover scenarios, only seems to have become lazier. It’s worrisome when the aforementioned B.O.B. appears on the opening track of a project and manages to arguably steal it. Iggy’s whole aesthetic was always, unfortunately, more integral to her output than her actual rapping, and it’s not hard to see why. She has drawn criticism in the past for her adoption of a fake American accent, a charge to which she has countered, (correctly), that she can rap in whatever voice she choose; nevertheless, much of her spitting sounds exaggerated and forced, which can prove distracting. Lyrically, too, there isn’t much going on here. When she extends herself beyond talk of bottle popping, monkey making and bad bitches, the results aren’t convincing, as on the cringe inducing motivational tale with Pusha T, “Runway”, or the straight up, weirdly serious sex raps on “Flash”, both of which make for rather uncomfortable listening.
The EP does contain one conspicuous masterstroke, the previously leaked single “Murda Bizness”, featuring a nimble guest verse from Iggy’s mentor T.I. Built around a hypnotic, swagged out bassline and sly finger clicks, it’s an infectious bounce of a record, and not coincidentally the track that makes the least over considered pop moves. It’s where Iggy’s abrasive style sounds most at home: fingers crossed she’ll take heed of this before her next release.