If you have listened to the radio anytime in the past month, then Iggy Azalea should be a familiar name to you. The 23-year-old Australian rapper and rising pop sensation has become a staple on top 40 playlists with her catchy Charli XCX-assisted single, “Fancy.” With one successful single under her belt, Azalea is looking to ascend the ranks of pop music with her debut album, “The New Classic.” Although the title might suggest otherwise, “The New Classic” doesn’t quite manage to reach or surpass the success of its hit single. Each of the 12 tracks utilize identical production and lyricism, making it an album filled with similar tracks and few standouts.
“The New Classic” features two different sides of Iggy Azalea: the traditional hip-hop artist and the pop star. Azalea’s hip-hop roots first show up on the album’s opening track, “Walk The Line,” a hard-hitting, modern hip-hop track capturing her journey from aspiring rapper to where she is today. As soon as the track begins, the production immediately stands out. “Walk The Line” features complex production, layering violin melodies with synth keys and eerie choir sounds, all on top of pounding 808 kick drums and trap-like hi-hats. Azalea’s lyricism is even more ferocious as she sings, “I had everything and then lost it / Worked my ass off, I’m exhausted.” She raps with intensity, capturing the struggles she’s faced as a rising rapper. Many of the hip-hop-oriented songs on the album, such as “Don’t Need Y’all” and “Impossible Is Nothing,” talk about the struggles of success as well — but since they use similar production and lyricism as “Walk The Line,” these tracks ultimately do not stand out from the album’s opening, leading to many songs rehashing the same content.
The album’s pop-oriented tracks try to capture the success of “Fancy,” focusing production heavily around the synth sounds that are heard across the radio. “Black Widow,” the album’s runner-up track, tries to push Azalea’s pop presence forward by using popular synth keys and arps, as well as a feature from British songstress Rita Ora. However, the song emphasizes its radio-friendly vibe rather than differentiating Azalea from her fellow pop acts. With its catchy hook, as well as an enticing EDM-trap instrumental, “Black Widow” sounds similar to songs such as Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” Other pop-oriented songs like “New Bitch” feature a dance-friendly instrumental comparable to the songs of Nicki Minaj.
“Fancy” stands as the album’s defining moment; a crossover song mixing the sounds and lyricism of club hip-hop with a pop-friendly chorus. What makes this song stand out from the rest of Azalea’s album is the track’s bare-bones, synth-bass powered instrumentals made popular by the likes of producer DJ Mustard. This is not your average pop production; as soon as the bass hits, it seems as if the song could be from rappers such as YG or Sage the Gemini. Azalea approaches the track’s production with hard-hitting lyricism as she raps, “Cup of Ace, cup of Goose, cup of Cris / High heels, somethin’ worth a half a ticket on my wrist,” demonstrating her prowess as a rapper. The addition of Charli XCX on chorus helps to give the song a pop vibe, singing with high-pitched vocals and colorful emotion. “Fancy” pushes forward a sound not yet heard from a female pop star, but unfortunately is one of the few tracks on the album to do so.
Although this might sound cliche, Azalea’s “The New Classic” is far from being a classic album. With the exceptions of songs such as “Walk The Line,” “Work” and “Fancy,” the album lacks a defining and uniting sound, as its hip-hop songs are at times repetitious and its pop songs fail to define Azalea as a standout star among her peers. “The New Classic” is a transitional album for Azalea, as she hasn’t quite hit the median between rap and pop. While the album does hold some songs worth checking out, don’t listen expecting another song of the caliber of “Fancy.”
Rating: 3 stars