The Source spoke with the Australian emcee Wednesday.
Next Tuesday is a big day for Iggy Azalea. After more than two years of production, promotion and pushbacks, Azalea’s debut LP, The New Classic, will finally be available for pre-order throughout the web, official assurance that her April 14 release date stays stationary.
The New Classic was originally slated to drop in the first quarter of 2012, back when she came up as a XXL Freshman and inked a deal with Interscope Records. Since then, Azalea has shuffled between T.I.’s Grand Hustle imprint and Island Def Jam, opened tours for Nas and Beyoncé, and got publicly involved with A$AP Rocky and now, L.A. Lakers guard Nick Young. When The New Classic finally hits shelves, it will function as both Azalea’s aesthetic breakthrough and a documentation of her ascent through the mainstream.
“I’ve had time to really sit down and ponder it because of the delays,” Azalea told me over the phone Wednesday, as part of an mtvU conference call. “I learned so much from Beyoncé’s live show, and I studied the way that her albums move. It made me want to go back and tweak some of the things on my album, so when I came off tour I added some songs and took some off.”
Azalea, who’s forged a following for her propensity for party music, promises that this album has a more eclectic sound than her tepidly-received 2012 EP Glory. Potential collaborators for The New Classic range as far as emcees like Pusha T and deejays like Diplo. The project’s lead singles, “Bounce” and “Work,” have drastically different subject matter, and after watching Beyoncé incorporate a more “traditional” live show bereft of flashing lights and big screens, Azalea believes that her album will showcase expanded artistry and influence.
“Bounce” has been nominated for best video honors at the mtvU Woodie Awards, which will take place March 13 at South By Southwest and will feature live sets from Childish Gambino and Vic Mensa. The visual for “Bounce” features a mélange of vibrant robes, traditional Indian dancers and Azalea rapping atop an elephant in Mumbai, and its garnered more than 11 million hits on YouTube. But Azalea remains wary of the single as a representative of the entire project.
“It’s a surreal video. The song doesn’t have much of a narrative element, so I think the video acts as a little piece of escapism. I wanted something really far out there,” she said. “But as artists, we don’t really get to pick singles. It’s a battle between what’s symbolic rhythmically and what will get radio play. The album itself is a little slower in pace than most of my music that you’ve heard. It’s loosely based on the journey of my life in the last two years. A lot of personal built-up feelings, the changing of my life and relationships. It’s less uptempo.”
Her solo LP isn’t the only thing Azalea expects to put out in 2014. When I asked her about a potential Hustle Gang compilation to rival Young Money’s looming Rise of an Empire, she wasn’t hesitant to spill.
“We started working on it in December, but Tip started making his crazy business deals over who’s releasing it,” she said. “There is going to be a Hustle Gang album this year, for sure.” Azalea added that she’s on four songs on the project, which is being held back while T.I. finishes solo work with Pharrell.
While promotion for The New Classic is only heating up, Azalea hasn’t been shy around the press of late. She and boyfriend Nick Young appeared in a GQ photoshoot this week. “I wanted to have a nice picture together,” she laughed. “As a girlfriend, I backed him into it, but I think he’s happy he did it now.” Azalea will now look to take home her first major award of ’14 with the Woodie, before beginning a press circuit and preparing a spring tour in support of the album. Critical acclaim is important, but she ultimately won’t get hung up on those who don’t view The New Classic as anything but.
“I think people will be surprised by how good this thing actually is,” she concluded. “Some people don’t have much of an expectation for me, and a lot of my album is telling those people to go shove it.”
The mtvU Woodie Awards will air March 16 on MTV.