In My Defense
Justice For Iggy.
It's Iggy Iggs! Does it sound familiar to you? Surely, a very popular phrase during 2014-2015, when we were all fans of Iggy Azalea. Listening to this slogan typical of the Australian rapper in a song was synonymous with top of the charts. Today, five years later, for many it is synonymous with… meh. The reason? Let's review what is for me one of the greatest musical injustices of this decade: Iggy appeared in our lives with a spectacular mixtape, Ignorant Art, in 2011. This project, headed by the amazing “My world”, full of powerful and fresh sounds discovered a vivacious, ambitious, badly spoken and aggressive rapper. It was clear that she was very clear about what she wanted and that her goal was to succeed. And she got it. Launched incredible themes like “Work”, un “Bounce” and “Change your life”, Iggy was introduced to the world, achieving success in her native Australia and UK. Azalea offered unusual sounds in the world of female rap: originals, which exploded in the chorus and penetrated the brain. I already lived totally in love with this rapper, but it was impossible not to bend down to her with every single that she released. Her accent was catchy, a mixture of the American South and the Australian desert, and within her rudeness I found some brilliance and great authenticity. The popularity of this blonde began to rise like foam, becoming a reference in the rrss. And “Fancy” arrived. Along with Charli XCX, Iggy presented a hybrid between pop and hip-hop, resurrecting the formula ‘’sung chorus/rapped stanza’’, and the world surrendered at her. The success was resounding. In a scenario dominated by Nicki Minaj, Azalea ran as her successor. And the Australian took care of even the smallest detail: video clips played a crucial role in her career. They often told stories, were worked and were inspired by films of yesteryear: From Clueless in “Fancy” to Kill Bill in “Black Widow”, her second success. The Azalea universe was at the top and with her debut The New Classic, Iggy showed her true value. Offering a whirlwind of sounds that intermingled like the colors of her fabulous cover, this project mixed rap and hip-hop with reggae, pop and trap. So, so good. But in the competitive world of rap not many people were happy that a white blonde could hold the title of queen. Her appearance didn’t fit in this world, and this was reason enough to accuse her of cultural appropriation. After her debut, the controversies won the ground to music. Our rapper was the victim of a kind of unfair voodoo that made her career downhill. After the bullying received by other “partners” who only managed to get attention through problems, Iggy fell into a spiral of misfortunes that made her lose the favor of the general public. Far from throwing in the towel, the rapper returned to the studio and released “Team” as a preview of her second album, Digital Distorsion. But the damage caused by third parties was enough for Iggy to lose popularity and this single and those that came later (“Switch”, a great song that was leaked and therefore suspended from promotion and “Mo Bounce”) didn’t get much impact. Digital Distorsion was canceled, and Iggy vomited all her rage in the EP Surviving the summer, where she became dark and aggressive because of the injustices experienced. Nor did “Savior”, with its radio-friendly environment, get the luck of “Fancy”. But far from giving up, Iggy has always shown herself as a powerful warrior who has a hard time keeping her mouth shut and under her own independent label has finally released her second album: In My Defense. Iggy Azalea, after all, has only that left: defend herself.
The best defense is a good attack.
In My Defense shows up 5 years after Iggy Azalea released her debut. After so much controversy and efforts in vain to be able to carry out her music, there was some interest and pressure to see what the Australian was able to do to clear her name and do justice. Far from offering a wide repertoire as happened with TNC, Azalea plays it all to a card in her new project. There are no traces of pop in this album, nor collaborations for choruses that can give us small heart attacks. There is no variety of genres, there is no commercial environment. There is also no redemption, but there is depth. The prominence of IMD lies entirely with Iggy. “Thanks I get” is in charge of opening the album. Iggy prepares to make a statement of innocence that will last a little over half an hour. We already know the saying: the best defense is a good attack, and Iggy, rather than shut up, barks. In this song that unites trap, hip-hop and rap the Australian takes a bath of self-esteem and shamelessly reviews all her achievements and impact she had in the industry, self-reaffirming herself before the haters and those who say she has no wood to be a rapper. “I'm the one that showed these bitches how to stunt / And this the muhfuckin 'thanks I get?”, she says referring to all who have come after her. The album starts strong, and only with this song we guess that more than a record of redemption, it is a record of war. The next song follows in the wake of the first, confirming the fighting atmosphere of IMD. “Clap back” is introduced as the sister of “Kream”, but less dark and bright. It focuses on the hatred and controversies in which Iggy has been involved (“They call me racist/Only thing I like is green and blue faces”; she clarifies), and yet she has been able to make a comeback. Azalea is being ready: she is taking all that hatred obtained and is giving it a 180 degree turn in her favor. The success of these two songs lies in the repetition. Before they sound heavy, they sound catchy; while the rhythm and sounds offer freshness and novelty to the Australian career. After these, comes “Sally Walker”, the first single of this era. Iggy needed a heavy blow on the table for her return to the ring, and she did. A hip-hop song with trap rhythms that samples the children's song of the same name. Original and catchy, she got the approval of the critic. In addition, it had a powerful and funeral video, one of the best of this 2019. It had looks of infarction, history and dance, adding the appearances of some of the Queens of the RuPaul phenomenon. Twerk fantasy for many. Although he achieved moderate success, Iggy knew how to make a big return.
A wealthy defense.
The key point of In My Defense, is nothing more than Iggy demonstrating that it is capable of doing alone, avoiding every commercial incentive that detracts quality as a rapper. We have already said it, far from being redeemed, the Australian has taken action, proving that she is a born fighter. In this way, she moves away from the pop universe with which she obtained success and renews his relationship with hip-hop through collaborations. All the artists that appear in this project are also rappers. The first one we found is Lil Yachty with the song “Hoemita”. Twerk, money and sex are the issues to be discussed here, exalting the power they have over society. Dance and reggae come together in this hip-hop song that reminds of the Iggy of TNC. Hypnotic thanks to the sinuous verses of the rapper and a simple base, it is presented as one of the best songs on the album. And it is that Iggy has not lost her ability to surprise us with hits or good songs throughout these 5 years of waiting. Single after single, of this era or not, Azalea has managed to mix her facet of diva with that of rapper, surpassing more and more expectations. The repertoire, wasted by the world, is worthy of admiration: from “Team” to “Switch” (a true tropical bomb that put Anitta on the map for many), passing through “Kream”, “Savior”, “Sally Walker” and finally “Started”, the second single from IMD. With an amazing strength, we are facing the best song on the album (and my fav). In my opinion it should have been the main single of this project: magnetic and powerful, this song tells how Iggy managed to amass a fortune from nothing: “I started from the bottom and now I'm rich”, she will proudly repeat until satiety as if Drake in “Started from the bottom” was about. Iggy is not ashamed of her origins and manages to turn her roots into a real bangerz. But the strong point of this hit is undoubtedly its video clip: beating the already great “Sally Walker”, Iggy offers one of the best visuals of the year. Using the hilarious element of sugar daddy, Iggy transforms into a modern Anna Nicole Smith and manages to get a fortune thanks to the death of her husband who triples her age. Looks of heart attack, reincarnation of a thousand memes of the theme and fancy scenarios, get to make this video the dream of any gay. And, in a way, if we stop to think a little ... does Iggy not represent the American or rap dream? She started poor and abroad, and over the years this pretty face has managed to move from nothing to the top, consolidating a career and a fortune. She already explained it to us in the autobiography “Work” and already confirms it with “Started”. That said, and although IMD has good hits, we don’t find a trace of the beginnings of Iggy: there is no here a “Work”, a “Bounce” or a “Change your life”, the three songs that are, in my opinion, 100% Iggy. Her trilogy, which made her ascend in my personal list of favorite artists to position herself in the top positions. It is what is missing in this project: the authentic Iggy, those songs that sounded unique, magical and exuberant and that gave life as water in the desert. This song together with “Spend it” form the best moment of the album, and the richest. Sounds like a hit rap from the 2000s and, with a narcotic rhythm, is a potential single. Basing its success on the repetition, this song that transports you to a striptease club, grants sinuous and sinister rhythms of STS, but sweetening it and making it as bearable and refreshing. These songs are joined by “Fuck it up”, another highlight of the album, where Iggy changes Charli XCX, Rita Ora or MØ for Kash Doll. The third single of this era also has a repetitive refrain that, together with its fast-paced and intense rhythm, offers a good hit to dance twerk. Approaching “Fancy” but with a tougher and hip-hop atmosphere where both rappers demonstrate that they can lead the world of bad-bitches. Confident, they are glad of their failures, we should all do it, so: “fuck ’fuck it up sis, just fuckin’ it up”.
A slightly repetitive defense.
Arrived in the middle of IMD, there is something that starts to sound usual, something that will be confirmed in the second part of the project. Iggy has entrusted the entire production of the album to J. White Did it, and this has been a double-edged sword: on the one hand, this project is cohesive and homogeneous. On the other, it is too much and the album sins repetitively. The Australian has been successful in the sound of the album, the problem is that she has used it to satiety, in most songs, with some variants. “Sally Walker” resonates like “Money” by Cardi B, and the producer has been taking advantage of bases he had already created. While TNC sounded varied and rich, IMD, although more consistent, is in danger of being bored. Songs like “Big bag”, although interesting for having the childhood voice of Iggy’s protected Stini, go totally unnoticed. “Commes des Garcons” manages to save itself from this by offering a dark version of Azalea, where her voice sounds heavy and thick, with sharp and witty rhymes above rap. This song dedicated to the brands she wear is the only one that manages to exceed three and a half minutes. And it seems that Iggy trusts the fast song formula. Absolutely all the songs of IMD are short and effective in particular, risking the repetition in the chorus, intense in small doses. Together it is something else, and as we have said, the repetition becomes evident. In “Freak of the week” with Juicy J, the formula works and this song is presented with a classic atmosphere that gets hooked thanks in part to the simple “Slob On My Knob” by Tear Da Club Up Thugs of Three 6 Mafia. The rhythmic “Just Wanna” is a small oasis of strength in the last part of the project. Hip-hop and with a small breeze from R&B, this song shows “Push it” by Salt-N-Pepa. It's fun, it's sexy, and it's… repetitive. AGAIN. Finally, in “Pussy pop” Iggy is flirtatious and confident. A filling song that talks about trust, about being who you want to be and getting ahead. It is basically what the Australian has been doing during these years. Being a survivor, so it doesn't seem like a bad way to close this project.
Get on the stand, Mss. Azalea
In My Defense sounds like the album Iggy needed but shouldn't have done. Thanks to belonging to her own record label, the rapper has been able to take charge of her career and thus offer whatever she thinks is convenient. After years of injustices and of being put in controversy by third parties, Azalea does not close doors, rather it leaves them open, and this, more than a disc of redemption is a disc of attack and cheekiness. Should Iggy apologize for fights in which she was involved without asking? I do not think so. This album is not a tragedy, rather it is a race that tells how the Australian has fallen several times, but has always known how to get up and walking on her heels. But I also think that Iggy has not been ready and resentment has been able to play a bad drink: a pop influence song or a ft. with some artist of this genre would not have hurt to return to the place she deserves and then continue to her own. This would also have brought more versatility to the project, whose biggest problem is that it sounds repetitive as a whole. Although the Azalea essence is present, originality and variety are lacking. The commitment to trap sounds, loud and powerful, provide a more trendy atmosphere, which transport you to nightclubs and smoking, but in these clubs you always need to go out for a breath. Even so, IMD can claim to be Australia's deepest album. The rapper is mature and her personality and rudeness are her weapons to highlight. A mix between The New Classic and this project would have been the perfect combination, a memorable and skillful bet. Short songs, but with the essence of Iggy is what we miss. Don't get me wrong, what Iggy has done is worthy of placing a statue in her honor: in the competitive musical world, and having all of them to lose, Iggy has moved away from the commercial environment that brought her to fame: a rap with huge pop airs and radio friendly, collaborations with popular pop artists, and the formula rapped rappel-sung chorus. But, unfortunately, as expected, Iggy has not yet recovered from popular opinion, and for more, this album is not a good proof of what she is capable of doing. Iggy, I admire you a lot: I can't imagine how strong you are. In spite of all the unfair criticisms you receive and see the little support received you get to stand firm and continue your way. Just she cannot give us any rap lessons with this album, but as a person...she does.