There is little doubt that the internet now plays a pivotal role in the careers of new artists by providing a transnational, virtual platform that previous generations could only have dreamt of. It can propel artists to stratospheric success in a matter of months - often cutting out the years of frustrated grinding which was once a prerequisite for respect and recognition - and nowhere is this more vividly seen than in rap. The ever-growing free mixtape culture of rap is a testament to this new 'blow up to come up' trajectory, yet this can be a cruel beast to tame. If your cry is loud, confident and daring enough a thousand heads can instantly turn, but if that initial spark goes and the goods don't live up to the hype, those heads have a habit of turning right back round again. The trick it seems is to not only be loud, confident and daring in the relevant online circles, but to use this to make that crucial leap upwards and prove that the hype is deserved, and the latest rapper to embark on this journey is Iggy Azalea.
There are a million stereotypes... How a woman should act, how an Australian should act, how a white person should act, what ‘real rap’ is... I’m blind to them all in my creative process
After posting a series of bold, stylish music videos on YouTube and her free mixtape Ignorant Art for download in the Autumn, she is now the latest signing to Interscope Records and, under the executive production of T.I., is working on her debut album The New Classic. To say that she stands out would hardly be a misnomer. As a white woman from rural Australia, she defies many preconceptions of what rap music is by suggesting what it could potentially become or (as she argues) has already become.
Ahead of the six-page feature in the upcoming April Issue of Dazed & Confused, we caught up with Azalea for a quick lowdown on her love of rap, her rise to popularity and her place within the game.
...your secret talent?
I'm a great baker
...your worst vice?
I'm always late as hell.
...your favourite sound?
The sound the ATM makes when it's giving you money
...your worst fashion secret?
I love to buy socks from cvs
...your favourite website?
...your favourite label?
I’d love to do a track with Yelawolf; we've been in touch about it and it’s definitely in the pipe line. I'd also love to work with Rihanna on a song too.
...at the top of your hit / shit list?
Chicken is at the top of my hit list, I hit it everyday
...are you listening to now?
Myself I'm recording my album
…to do on a day off?
How would you describe your work?
How did your love for American rap and hip hop emerge whilst you were living in rural Australia?
Iggy Azalea: I heard a Tupac song at a friend’s house down the street and it all really started from there. There was something about it that truly touched me. From that day, I got every video, album and magazine related to hip-hop that I could get my hands on. I was obsessed.
Was your love for hip hop as a young teenager as much about the fashion and attitude as the music itself?
Iggy Azalea: Yes, but it wasn't about ‘high’ fashion. Back then I thought if you liked rap you had to dress like you were in an advert in Source magazine. I used to wear Timberland boots and boy jeans because I wanted to dress in a way that would make people would look at me and be able to tell what style of music I liked. Although, as I grew older, I gradually stopped caring if I looked or sounded the way a rapper is 'supposed' to sound; then the high heels, skirts and Vogue magazines became a staple in my life again.
Was the fantasizing about rap music and the lifestyle a means of escapism from everyday life?
Iggy Azalea: Yes, 100%. I hated where I lived. I felt so trapped. It was definitely a 'the grass is greener on the other side' type of thing.
You've spoken of going to rap battles in Sydney. How did they shape you as an artist?
Iggy Azalea: Being a teenage white girl didn't make me stand out as much as you'd imagine - Australia has a lot of white kids in it! There weren’t too many girls on the mic but there were definitely a lot of girls at the events because it was a cool place to hang out; and a place to meet boys and look cute. I always felt in my heart that I was a champion, so hearing boo's from a crowd just made me want to prove them all wrong and get better.
You have turned down various deals that you feel tried to undermine your creative goals, particularly in respect to the world of hip hop modelling. Do you feel this has forced you to work harder to prove yourself?
Iggy Azalea: I think if I had taken the path of a gimmick, it would've made it impossible for me to prove myself as a serious artist in the long run, so to me, sticking to what was true made things a whole lot easier in the end.
White male rappers arguably can survive because, black or white, men can relate at least through their 'masculinity'. Do you feel that, as a woman, this creates an extra challenge for you, even on just an aesthetic level?
Iggy Azalea: Race to me is a low blow that people just use when they have nothing real to hate on. To me, being a woman is the biggest hindrance; a lot of people don't want to see a woman on the mic, just like they don't want to see a woman play an electric guitar. There are a million and one things that I go through as a woman and as a human being that we can all relate to, and colour is just an extremely small thing to me. I have to view it that way if I want the rest of the world to take on that mind frame too.
Do you feel that using your body as part of your aesthetic and lyrical style as a woman is something of double edged sword - that what makes you stand out is also what can limit or stereotype you?
Iggy Azalea: There are a million and one stereotypes people try to put on me every day. How a woman should act, how an Australian should act, how a white person should act, what ‘real rap’ is, what we consider to be beautiful. I’m blind to them all in my creative process. A stereotype should never hinder art if you’re brave about it, and I try to be.
The title of your mixtape Ignorant Art is a Basquiat reference, right?
Iggy Azalea: Yeah, the cover and title for my mixtape is a reference to Basquiat, who's an artist and personality I find really interesting. I think he really just did whatever he wanted in a time and place when people tried to stereotype what a 'black' artist should or should not be, or even what 'good art' should be. He just did his own thing, and I love that.
Check back online and in the April Issue of Dazed & Confused for a full feature with Iggy Azalea, out March 15th