We met up with Iggy Azalea at the Island Def Jam office before the second of her New York City shows. Despite sharing the spotlight with hip-hop mogul TI, she held her own and brought explosive energy to the stage--twerk team in tow. Since coming to the states from Australia when she was 16 and living in Miami, Houston, Atlanta and Los Angeles, Azalea has released a collection of mixtapes and tracks with artists such as Steve Aoki and Diplo and she's due to release her first full-length in September. In the meantime, we've got the scoop on what's inspired her throughout her journey.
Were you always into hip-hop and rap when you were growing up? I've always been into it. Not from birth, but I think nobody is really into a same type of music until, probably, they hit puberty and decide to do their own thing. And you want to wear not the clothes your mother gave you, and you want to listen to your own music and have your own style and be your own person. So from that point, I've always loved rap music.
What does your debut mixtape's title, "Ignorant Art," really mean? I see an ongoing theme in my music as experimenting with rap and different styles of sounds and blending them. There's this funny kind of culture in rap music--of hip-hop purists who believe that rap music should sound one way, and that it's the correct way for it to sound. It's the "real rap" sound versus something else--and I think that something else sometimes gets labeled as ignorant. I think art can be ignorant or really crude. Basquiat was an artist that I based my cover off because I think his art was very crude and sometimes misunderstood. Crude not in a rude way, but in a raw way. Not polished. If I tell a story, then that's real rap, but if I talk about vaginas, then that's not art anymore. What is real rap? What is art?
"The New Classic" is coming out in September? It's a bit more story telling. It's stuff that you can dance to. Definitely high-energy things, but I talk a bit more about relationships and stories that I have about different relationships that I've had with guys. Or, I talk a lot about chasing your dreams or chasing my dreams. Dreams, men, and twerking are the three subjects.
What role does fashion play in your art? I think that it's really important--fashion. But, I love fashion in the costume way. Not to say that how I dress is a costume, but I love movie characters, and I love the fashion of costumes and characters more than I like to look at a runway.
Do you have style icons? I really like Grace Kelly. I just think she's so chic and she had great classical tailoring. I like characters. I like Grease. I like Lola Bunny from Space Jam because she always wears high-waisted shorts and a crop top when she plays basketball, which I wear quite often. I have her bangs. My ponytail could be her rabbit ears. I like The Nanny girl, Fran. She's my style icon: Fran Drescher. I love her suits! They're so gaudy and awesome. What have been the challenges of being a female rapper? I think it's hard to be aggressive and not be masculine. It's very hard to balance that and still be feminine. And to have people want to listen to you, sonically: your tone and also your message. When somebody is too masculine as a woman I even think it's a bit cringe-y. It's a difficult tightrope walk.
What differentiates you from other women in hip-hop? We have our own story to tell or things that we want to say. Some of us just want to say that we dress well or that we're the baddest bitch. Everybody is something. Sometimes people don't necessarily have a story. For me, I just always feel like I want to be powerful, and that's what my music is about, whether it's telling a story--like "Work," about how I got to where I am and for that to hopefully make other people feel motivated to follow their dreams or just making a badass song like "Pu$$y," where it makes you feel confident. My reoccurring theme is just trying to make you feel like you're powerful.
In three words, how would you describe your sound? I think it's energetic, probably experimental--it's not crude--but it's taboo. It's like, 'Did she really just say that?' Yeah, I said it.
In three words, how would your mom describe your sound? In the gutter. Iggy Azalea is performing at the Echoplex in LA this weekend and then she's off to play the European festivals. Click here for her full schedule.