Almost seven months to the day since The New Classic and it’s become abundantly clear that Miss Azalea has made an impression. Involved in some of the catchiest and most popular songs of the year, Iggy also bypassed Lil’ Kim to become the female rapper with the longest number one on the Billboard charts, and joined The Beatles to be one of the very, very, VERY few artists to have a song at number one and number two in the charts at the same time. Her popularity is made even more apparent by her headlining SNL with Jim Carrey, as well as becoming a prime target of shadiness by Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj and Eminem. It truly is Iggy Season, but for those who already bought The New Classic first time round, is there enough of a reason to return to the snazzed-up re-release?
The new additions are mostly winners, with album opener ‘We In This Bitch’ channelling early 90’s Puff Daddy and Notorious B.I.G. thanks to the menacing guitar licks and Azalea rhetorically asking “What’s a world like with no I-G-G in this bitch?” Then there’s ‘Iggy SZN’, built on hand claps and a deep electronic buzz, which will sound great in a high tempo Zumba class. The rest of the new additions follow the winning formula that Iggy applied to ‘Fancy’ and ‘Black Widow’, bringing in a (usually quite famous) female vocalist to cover the chorus so Azalea can look after the rap verses. First single ‘Beg For It’ bounces around on echoed synths and hollowed-out bass, while Danish artist MØ brings in a uniquely chilly sexual confidence. Jennifer Hudson joins in for the piano driven throwback ‘Trouble’ which is perfectly pleasant and jaunty – or in other words, totally forgettable – while ‘Heavy Crown’ brings Ellie Goulding on board for a rockier sound than we’re used to from Iggy, and one that doesn’t entirely suit her rap style.
Holdovers like the snarlingly self-empowered ‘Work’, warped earworm ‘Bounce’ and the closest Iggy has yet come to a ballad, ‘Change Your Life’, are all still belters, but the double-downer buzz of ‘Don’t Need Y’All’ and ‘Rolex’ could easily have been replaced by much better tracks that have been inexplicably left off, like the bonkers K-Pop brilliance of ‘Goddess’, the ska-era No Doubt channelling ‘Lady Patra’ or the ratchet-as-all-hell ‘Fuck Love’.
Just like her first time out with this album, Iggy has a problem; trying too hard to please herself AND please commercial radio. Only one song veers above four minutes long, with all the rough, experimental edges of The New Classic sanded down and replaced with big featuring artists and even bigger hooks. Nothing wrong with that, as some of the singles here will have the clubs hopping over the next few months, but with Nicki Minaj pushing out the boat on sexual politics, Azealia Banks testing the limits of hip-hop and Angel Haze using the genre to tell some very personal and universal stories, do we really need just another chart-botherer?