Iggy Azalea: ‘The New Classic’ for hip-hop

Iggy Azalea performs on stage at the 'Chime For Change: The Sound Of Change Live' Concert at Twickenham Stadium on June 1, 2013 in London, England. Chime For Change is a global campaign for girls' and women's empowerment founded by Gucci with a founding committee comprised of Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini, Salma Hayek Pinault and Beyonce Knowles-Carter.   (Photo credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Iggy Azalea performs at last week’s Chime for Change concert. She plays the Bowery Ballroom on June 16 and 17.
Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Iggy Azalea is a leggy Australian blonde bombshell — not exactly the type of person you’d expect to see as the up-and-coming face of hip-hop.

But she’s no fad. The 22-year-old initially tempted hip-hop kids with smutty lyrics like “taste my Skittles” in a 2011 viral hit and followed up on her success in 2012 by being the first female to make hip-hop magazine XXL’s Freshman Class (a big deal in the industry). You may already have picked up that Azalea — real name Amethyst Kelly — is no prude, with an ease for chatting about oral sex, “vagina-ry costumes” and dropping many f-bombs in the process. It’s refreshingly charming rather than trashy, although perhaps parents wouldn’t approve of the potty mouth.

You’ve got an interesting look. What’s the thinking behind it and what are your influences?

I like bold prints and fun things like cartoons and movie characters: “Grease,” Looney Tunes, “Space Jam,” that kind of thing. When it comes to makeup, I have to have a full beat all the time – I call it “drag natural.” It’s where you have as much makeup as a drag queen but you try to make it look natural.

Are you insecure?

No, I just think why not look airbrushed? Things can always be better.

That’s a good point. F— it, why not?

[Laughs uproariously] Before I go on stage wearing open-toe shoes, I will put concealer on my toes – I’m psycho.

Why did you start rapping?

I think I just liked the aggressiveness of it and I liked that they kind of seemed to be the rebels of all the styles of music. I thought artists like Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, 2Pac, Ludacris and Outkast were really cool. I really liked song lyrics and I wanted to know them all. I find it annoying when song lyrics – including my own – are wrong online.

Are you a perfectionist?

Yeah, I’m meticulous.

How many times do you go over your lyrics? OCD levels?

OCD. It’ll take me a few days to even write a song and I listen to it back and there’ll be changes on my latest album – but I haven’t had time to get in the studio yet.

You use a lot of sexually charged language in tracks like “Two Times” and “Work.” Were you the rude kid at school who taught all the other kids about sex?

I was – yeah. I had a club in sixth grade, which was like a rude poetry club. I put out flyers and of course I had my contact information on this, and it found its way back to the teacher and I remember getting called to the principal’s office for it.

Can you remember any of the poetry?

I just remember one line, which was about this fat girl who was a bitch called Rebecca Dalton and I was like: “May I add as we grow older, Rebecca will become a boulder.” She was so fat [laughs].

Did you charge people to join the club?

No, I should have. I just wanted to have some friends. I only had one friend.

Why didn’t you have any friends?

It was because of my wacky fashions. They didn’t make me a good candidate for friendship. I liked my mom’s electric blue Chinese coat that went to the floor and I would wear it over everything, with green platform sneakers.

Are you a particularly sexual person and are the sexually explicit lyrics to shock?

No, they’re not to shock. I only do one vagina song per project. Like “Flash” [feat. Mike Posner] on “Glory” and “Down South” on “Trap Gold.” I just notice that our culture will never admit to being fascinated and driven by sexuality, and I find it very odd that everything is sexually driven in an undercurrent – it’s a hypocrisy.

Which is the most sexually open culture that you’ve seen?

Probably Spain. Even I was cringing in Spain. We went to this gig and they thought it was totally appropriate that I would get dressed in a room full of Egyptian art that had penises everywhere and guys having sex with goats and stuff on the wall. Then I was in this gay hotel where everything was sexual innuendo like the waiter would say, “Do you want a drink?” [makes the symbol for oral sex].

What’s the biggest blowout you’ve had with a label?

I haven’t had any fights. At [record label] Mercury the only thing that we fight about is budgets. I always want like a million dollars and they’re like ”No” and they give me about $100,000 for a video, which is fine. The biggest thing that we had a fight about was during the “Work” video where someone said my outfit was “too vagina-ry.” That person got fired; she’s not on my projects anymore.

What were you wearing?

I was going to wear this high-waisted, red leotard that was completely encrusted in rhinestone flames from the crotch. It was based on “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” so why wouldn’t I be dressed like a showgirl with a feather jacket?

Obviously you’ve got a tough girl persona for the cameras, so what’s the worst fight that you’ve been involved in?

I’ve never been in a proper fight, I’m too smart for that. [laughs] That’s for idiots. I’m not a bad person, so I’ve never done anything to make someone want to punch me. In terms of rap beef, people that yap the most are the biggest pussies and would never swing a punch at you.

You mentioned that your mom was very pleased to see your bank statements, so what’s been your biggest paycheck to-date?

I can’t say.

Ballpark figure?

I get a lot of big ones [laughs]. The biggest check I’m about to get in one go is $250,000 for something that I’m doing but most are around the $100,000 mark.

Now that you’re becoming more of a name in the music industry, do you have concerns that some campaigns will conflict with your image? Have you turned any big campaigns down to-date?

I turn campaigns down all the time, actually. I just turned one down two days ago for a global, humongous brand and it was for a lot of money because it didn’t fit with my image.

In “Work,” you mention giving blowjobs for Louboutins. What have you given a sexual favor for?

Well, I didn’t say I give them. [laughs]

Very true. Ever given a sexual favor for something?

Not directly. I did date one guy that I wasn’t actually that into but I thought he might give me good presents. But that didn’t end up working out because apparently if you want presents, you have to somehow ask for them and I could never ask for anything because I find it really shameful, so I never even got one present.

All the sex without the gifts?

[laughs] Yeah. I ended up being like “I’m not a good golddigga, so I give up.” I never tried that again.

Where did you learn to lap-dance for “Work”?

I learned on the day. I’ve never given a lap dance before in my entire life and I didn’t practice either.

It looked fairly natural.

It felt like not natural at all. It looked good but I felt like a robot.

Ever lap-danced for anyone?

No, I would be way too scared. It’s not my style I couldn’t do it. I’m too goofy, I’d f— it up.

Does playing at Chime for Change mean more to you than just being an opportunity to promote your music on a more global scale? Why did you decide to get involved?

No, definitely not because I only get to do two songs. I’ve always been involved in charities – I just don’t tweet about it. I do a lot of stuff with after school programs with kids in Los Angeles.

Are you passionate about it?

Yeah, definitely – I’m into justice for women. I had just watched a documentary before they asked me [to do Chime for Change] that was about people in Islamic countries where women have acid poured on their faces, if they don’t want to marry – and the men never get brought to justice. Also, there are never enough of these kind of things. Charity always addresses things like earthquakes and things like that but this goes on every day.

“The New Classic” is dropping in early September. What can you tell us about the album?

It’s got a lot more stories but not biographical. It’s about relationships, fame and parties. I have to do the more “twerkable songs” but “Bounce” is on there because I wanted to see how the rap-pop thing would go – it’s by far the most commercial song.

You don’t drink, so what vices do you have?

Well, I drink with a meal but it’s not exactly a vice. Men are my vice. I love being in love. I’m obsessed with being in love and when I think I have a chance of being in love I’ll abandon everything: life, career and I’m like [shouts] “Don’t f—ing call me, I’m trying to be in love.”

Any examples?

What happened last year with my career going down the toilet [laughs].


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