Hip hop, by its very nature, is a controversial subculture away from the mainstream. The challenge for any rapper, therefore, is balancing broad appeal with their authentic roots - perhaps even more so for female rappers who are scrutinised more than the big boys of rap. Though there are an increasing number of female rappers breaking through to mainstream audiences, the men are still the leaders of the pack.
Enter Iggy Azalea. With her debut album 'The New Classic', she has created an album that's more than palatable for pop fans without eschewing her roots. It's a statement of intent, proving she'll be around for the long haul rather than a fleeting pop fad.
"No money no family, sixteen in the middle of Miami", she raps on her breakthrough hit Work, a track on which she details her rise to fame. Though originally from Australia, she moved to the States at the age of sixteen and grew up on southern hip hop. That influence is certainly apparent on 'The New Classic' as a whole, from the trap production, to guest raps from T.I and her double-time flow that certainly competes with the best.
For the most part, though, 'The New Classic' is a slickly produced pop album. Over time, Azalea's style has morphed from the controversial track Pu$$y to incorporate more electronic elements, leading to an album that's just as at home on the dancefloor with the EDM influenced Change Your Life and New Bitch. The album is crammed with pop hooks and includes a number of collaborations, most notably Charli XCX on current single Fancy and Rita Ora on Black Widow (on whose tour Azalea featured). Azalea definitely excels at these pop tracks rather than imitating her peers with the braggadocio Goddess, but by the time Fuck Love comes around ("Fuck love, give me diamonds") you wish there was a bit more depth to the lyrics.
Still, it's the sass and intensity with which Azalea performs that makes this album worthwhile, in addition to her sense of humour (in the Clueless-inspired video for Fancy especially). It might bear little resemblance to the classic southern rappers she admired as a teenager (making the title somewhat ironic), but at the very least stomping down the road with Azalea spitting rhymes in your ears undoubtedly makes you feel like a bad bitch. That sort of appeal isn't to be sniffed at.
* New Bitch
Listen: 'The New Classic' is available now.