There’s a new name in hip hop, and it’s dominating the pop charts: Iggy Azalea, the Australian-born twenty-three-year-old rapper who has risen extremely rapidly to notoriety and stardom. Her track “Fancy” has jumped nine spaces on the charts in just one week, quickly claiming the title for song of the summer with the catchy chorus becoming unavoidable on the radio, spawning covers and lip dubs. Her duet with up-and-coming Mariah Carey impersonator Ariana Grande, “Problem,” has also become a massive hit, debuting at number thirty-two on the charts. She carries herself with the power of a rap goddess, rocking high-end fashion coupled with a raunchy mouth. While it’s nice to see a female hip-hop artist seemingly remaining edgy and gangster, I feel as though her talent is questionable and worry that she will soon be another victim of the pop chart cleansing that stifles so many great artists.
I first heard Azalea on a music video channel last year, as her video for “Work” played, a visual and auditory celebration of street culture and the struggles most rap artists have to rise above. I didn’t think much of her talent, as I thought the song was unremarkable and I couldn’t understand half of the lyrics. Shrugging it off, I thought she would be a shot in the pan artist, which is probably why when I first listened to “Fancy” my only thought was Gwen Stefani, please come back to alternative, we miss you. Azalea’s new image was not unlike Nicki Minaj and Rihanna, a seemingly ‘hard’ pretty face making songs in the generic pop formula of sex appeal and good times.
I still give Azalea props, because even though she has faced a massive amount of criticism for being considered a part of hip hop culture as a white woman, she still holds her own with greats like T.I. She also reps the culture better than most artists today who have allowed their music to become a crossover with other genres, like Lil Wayne, Wiz Kalifa, and others. Azalea does Azalea, and it garners respect. I would like to see her remain true to her roots, and hone her rapping craft. Unfortunately, I see her becoming a victim of the club anthems and lack of clothing claiming our strong and fierce female artists’ fledgling careers. While Azalea remains on my list of artists to watch, I would hate to see her continue her path toward the mediocrity of the manufactured hits we have all become far too comfortable with.
Written by S. Elyse Schultz