Photo: Courtesy of Virgin EMI Records.
Iggy Azalea has spent the past three years gearing up for her official debut. Her first mixtape, Ignorant Art, shook the scene and each violent whip of her hair seemed to bring in more accolades, more promise for the blonde Australian transplant. Here was a female rapper with a gritty Southern drawl and a style lifted from the Tumblr age. She spit fire over bass-heavy beats and turned more than a few heads with her, erm, assets. Despite all the promise, however, The New Classic fails to live up to its name.
Classic, by definition, is a standard of excellence and historically memorable. The New Classic would then, arguably, set a new standard of excellence, yet the bar hasn't been raised here. Of the album's 15 songs, there are (maybe) four solid singles — three of which were a part of the pre-release campaign (a smart marketing tactic from Azalea's team). "Fancy," "Work," "Bounce," and the Katy Perry-penned "Black Widow" all employ the following traits: a deep bass, confident lyrics, and a well-timed build/drop formula. Those three aural traits can be found in any Top 40 track today, but Azalea's delivery — the way she digs into certain words and lifts off on others — keeps them fresh and uniquely her. No one but Azalea could rock those tracks, but the rest of the album? That's a different story.
Between "Impossible is Nothing" and "Change Your Life" (also a pre-released track), there are so many humble-brags and self-actualizations on The New Classic that the theme becomes exhausted. (How many "started from the bottom / now we here" songs will it take to bury the trend?) Yes, her story of moving to Miami at 16 and working her way up the ranks is one for the books, but she found that narrative's outlet on "Work." Combining a raunchy beat with a tongue-in-cheek coming of age story is Azalea's forte. Too much of one thing and, well, we all know where that leads.
All that said, The New Classic is not a bad "debut." (If we're going to compare Ignorant Art to this, the former takes the cake for its sheer abrasive attitude.) There are gems of deep-cuts nestled between forgettable tracks. "New Chick" is a light track dealing with a new S.O.'s jealous ex-partners. "F**k Love," on the flip-side, is a dance-heavy ode to loving yourself. "I'm already in love with myself / Fuck love / Give me diamonds." Add that over a Major Lazer-like moombahton production and you've got an Azalea classic. It's the hidden gem of the album that sneaks up on the listener, gets 'em moving for a few minutes, and is sweet enough to leave them wanting more.
Perhaps abrasive, the idea of polishing a hard surface through force, is the right metaphor for Azalea's triumphs. It's her sounds that are cleaning up shop, turning "coal to diamonds" instead of the lyrics that keep her shining. Here's to more diamonds in Azalea's life. We know she's already at the top. The new classic is shamelessly flaunting what that means — what did all those creation stories amount to? Show it off, girl.