Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. Get your finery out.
Even if you haven’t heard any of Iggy Azalea’s music, her name might sound familiar. She’s spent the last few years in that blogosphere dead zone where she had the buzz (including a feature in XXL’s Freshman of 2012 list) and minor releases to back up the hype and keep her on the radar, but label woes stalled her debut album, which only came out earlier this year. It hasn’t been for lack of trying; Azalea’s gotten plenty of media coverage, and even has backing from her inspiration, TI. While The New Classic didn’t do as well as she expected, “Fancy” hit number one.
So, “Fancy”. I’ll say this, after spending all year with good-but-stale number ones by industry dinosaurs, it’s refreshing to hear something a little hungry and trashy make its way up. The song’s fairly standard hip-pop fair: clubby beat, kinda empty, but still catchy. Azalea brings plenty of confidence and attitude, but really, it’s Charli XCX’s massive, cooler-than-thou chorus that puts “Fancy” over everything else. Her double-tracked, brash vocals have a solo-era Gwen Stefani vibe to them, only more bearable.
Less bearable, though, is “Fancy”‘s beat. It’s minimal with an occasional deep bass sound with some “hey”s thrown in with percussion, and I get going for a minimal beat, but no one’s clamoring to hear “Rack City” in 2014. A beat like this just doesn’t sound inspired or world conquering, two things I think you’d want to go for when you called your album The New Classic. Hell, it’s just a bad match for the performers: Charli’s chorus swallows it whole, and Azalea’s deft flow doesn’t have anything solid to land on. It sounds incomplete.
Well, let’s look at Azalea’s verses: “First things first, I’m the realest” If you have to tell me you’re real, I’m going to start assuming the opposite, but whatever.
“And I’m still in the Murda Bizness” Ok, that’s kinda clever. I’d reference a song TI did with me, too. If I had one.
“I could hold you down, like I’m giving lessons in physics” Gravity’s a pretty basic lesson, though. Or Iggy had some demented science teachers.
“Swagger on stupid, I can’t shop in no department” Right, because the only place you’ll find “swagger on (a) stupid (looking hat/shirt/whatever)” is Hot Topic. Ok, that one was a stretch.
“I just can’t worry about no haters, gotta stay on my grind” I’ve been on Twitter, too, Iggy.
“I’m in the fast line, from LA to Tokyo” …you mean the Pacific Ocean? the largest body of water on Earth?
“Trash the hotel, let’s get drunk at the minibar”. “Cuz every song is like trashing the hotel room”
You see what I’m getting at. Iggy’s verses and the chorus aren’t bad, there just isn’t anything to them outside usual brags about expensive shit and how she does. Which I guess is fair for a song called “Fancy”, since Jay-Z beat her to naming artists and labels by a year. But again, it works, so I can’t fault it too much. Especially as catchy as it is. Hm, I still have some space to fill here…hey, how did Iggy Azalea come up with her rap name?
Uh…huh. Ok, two things: I’d give her grief for literally invoking those old My Space/Facebook “lol, ur rap name is your pet plus ur address” charts, but we all know there’s no way in hell you’re making it in hip-hop with the first name Amethyst. It’d be like going by Aubrey, or something.
Second of all: that is her real voice? I mean, I get the logic: in hip-hop, you could bounce back from being Amethyst, you could bounce back from being Australian, but you’re dead in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef as Amethyst the Australian. It doesn’t bug me that she uses a different voice for rapping–most rappers do. It bugs me that her rap voice is affected past the point of parody; for fuck’s sake, how are you going to do an interview like Nicole Kidman and then be the black chick in Scary Movie 3 on a single? Miley Cyrus didn’t ratchet up this hard.
Then again, the video for “Fancy” is a shot for shot remake of the white girl movie, so maybe Azalea’s a little more self aware than I think. Regardless, it’s a fun, pop-rap hit, but almost aggressively so; there’s no clever sample, few punchlines, and nothing interesting to the production. It’s designed to catch in your head, and that’s what it does. It’s decent, but hardly a classic or elegant in anyway.