Iggy Azalea's "The New Classic" is a flat LP that fails to utilize what that makes Iggy unique.
Defining a “classic” is no easy task. The first factor is obviously the quality of the music. Here we ask the basic questions: Are there any unnecessary tracks? Does the production impress without outshining the lyrics? The usual surface stuff that’s easy to assess on two full listens. After the surface level is cleared, an album has to separate itself from the pack. Most of the time, this can be accomplished with historical significance or association with a proven track record. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a classic not only because every track on it is an absolute smash, but also because the album’s recording sessions, and the stories that resulted from them, will be talked about for ages. Only once an album meets both of those qualifications can it move on to its third and most important test: longevity. If the listener can’t spin an album ten years later without skipping tracks, it probably isn’t a classic. For this reason alone, anyone who really appreciates music should be hesitant to call any album a classic within two years of an album’s release date. Personally, I’m not even ready to give good kid, M.A.A.D. City that kind of status yet. Down the line, it very well may be—but it’s still too soon to say for sure. Iggy Azalea has boldly titled her debut album The New Classic. Lets see if the album qualifies.
To begin, lets talk about the surface level. After giving the project a few listens, a few things stand out. First, the production—while indisputably pop—is solid throughout. Whether it’s on the DJ Mustard inspired “Fancy” or the dancehall banger “Fuck Love,” the instrumentals themselves are strong. That being said, the problem here, unfortunately, is Iggy herself. As a rapper, Azalea is actually more than competent. Her message that hard-work prevails is one that has been often explored in this genre, but Iggy’s flow and thick-accented delivery do more than enough to separate her from the pack. “Goddess” particularly emphasizes the full potential of her abilities. The problem is that Azalea has yet to learn her limitations. The most obvious of these drawbacks is obvious: she can’t sing. Unlike Nicki Minaj, who has actually proven herself as a mildly capable pop vocalist (with the help of autotune), Iggy tries desperately on several of the album’s hooks to bring some top 40 flavor and instead just leaves the listener with a bad migraine. “Don’t Need Ya’ll,” “New Bitch” and “Impossible Is Nothing” are all victims of aiming for melody that could have been salvaged by a guest feature. A shame considering the verses on all three tracks are well above average. Meanwhile, “Work,” “Black Widow” and especially “Fancy” are all enjoyable listens because the instrumentals work within the same formula: minimalistic with a dance breakdown. The songs rely on Iggy's flow (her strongest asset) to carry the track and, frankly, they work. The album itself also lacks fluidity, sounding more like a compilation of singles (and b-sides) rather than a coherent project.
Now, we can discuss historical relevancy. This is actually where the album had a real opportunity to shine. Despite her weaknesses, Iggy is an important asset to hip-hop music. A 23-year-old white woman from Australia who has only been in American for seven years, she’s nothing like anyone else in this genre today. The shame is that she doesn’t utilize what makes her coming historical to any avail. Her outsider’s point of view could have made for some interesting one-of-a-kind music. Instead, the album is deeply impersonal. The hook on “Work,” “No money, no family, 16 in the middle of Miami,” is the closest Iggy allows listeners to understanding her as an individual, and that’s hardly a surface layer. An album about her struggle, about her experiences outside of this country, could have been a captivating work. The New Classic is not that album.
At the end of the day, what Azalea has crafted here is a collection of potential radio-signals. As a bold-titled introduction, this is not what the album should have been. Azalea has a unique voice (literally and figuratively). When she finally starts using it, maybe hip-hop heads will start to listen more carefully.