Iggy Azalea interview: ‘Sometimes I feel like Australians can go fuck themselves’
The explosive, industrious young Aussie rapper with ‘the best bum in the biz’ tells her side of the story
Mon Oct 7 2013
Iggy Azalea is running late. ‘Stuck in traffic,’ says a PR. It could mean she’s hungover or having a late lunch. Or maybe she really is stuck in traffic. What’s certain is that at this point in her career, she’s setting the agenda. Less than three years after posting a first, grainy freestyle clip on YouTube, the 23-year-old rapper from Mullumbimby, New South Wales (population 3,000), is already a household name – if your house is occupied by teens or early twentysomethings. If not, wait: after 35 million YouTube views of her singles, Azalea’s debut album ‘The New Classic’ drops in December, at which point she’s likely to go nuclear. In other words, the girl can afford to make journalists wait.
Much has been made of Azalea’s nationality. Her race. Her sex. Her sex appeal. Less has been said about her gift for wordplay, impressive self-awareness and admirable work ethic. Granted, New South Wales is a long way from the Bronx; but in some ways she’s the archetypal hard-knocks rapper, with a rags-to-riches story every bit as engrossing as the traditional ‘crack dealer made good’. Today, stretched out on a white, leather couch in a trendy office near Regent Street, Azalea can laugh about that story – and she does, repeatedly. But behind the humour is a woman with immense ambition, every bit the hustler her breakout song ‘Work’ would suggest.
You used to get booed as a budding rapper. Is it fair to say you’ve got a conflicted relationship with your native country?
‘Sometimes I feel like Australians can go fuck themselves. There’s a general lack of information about hip hop there. I moved to the US [in 2006] because I wanted to be someplace where I respected people’s opinions as a fan of rap music. Australia isn’t that place. On the other hand, I like the country and Australians are generally pretty awesome people: easy-going. There’s just a lack of information about a particular thing I do for a living and it’s really frustrating.’
You’re opening for Beyoncé later this month on the Australian leg of her world tour. Do you feel any trepidation about that?
‘I don’t know what to expect. I haven’t played Australia since I moved to the US. Will they boo me again? I don’t know. I guess sometimes the things I say about Australia can come off as harsh, but what can I say? It’s the truth. Sometimes you don’t want to hear you have something in between your teeth, but you have.’
You used to have a group in Australia.
‘Baby Laydee. I know, it’s bad. Two girls were going to sing and I was going to be “Left Eye” [the late rapper in the R&B group TLC]. Then one quit so we decided we’d both be rappers. The other girl would never write – I’d have to do it – so I got tired and left. But the most unfortunate thing is that she got a fucking tattoo down her arm that read “Baby Laydee”. I hope she got it covered up. I’m so glad my mum didn’t let me do everything.’
Like move to America, alone, at the age of 16…?
‘Actually, she didn’t know I was moving. I’d dropped out of high school without really doing it on purpose – I’d just go home at lunch ’cos I didn’t have friends, then stay there all afternoon listening to rap. It got to the point where I wouldn’t have passed even if I’d gone back. I was depressed, basically. I got a job at a supermarket and started cleaning houses with my mum to save up enough to leave. I told her I was visiting Miami, but I stayed.’
And how – without a work visa – did you eat?
‘I came home a lot during the first year I was there. You can stay for 91 days before having to go back, so I went back and forth. My stepdad worked for an airline, so travel was cheap.’
You’ve moved around America a lot…
‘I left Miami after I broke up with my boyfriend. I was naive about the way things work on the street. After that I moved to Houston for about nine months before Hurricane Ike came and blew everything I owned into the street, just as the financial crash came and the Australian dollar went down to 54 cents US. All of a sudden my money was worth half as much and I didn’t own shit. It was completely fucked. I moved to Atlanta for a couple years, then on to LA. That’s where I live now.’
Race has been a dominant theme in your career.
‘The media’s like: “Here’s the angle: white, Australian, has a vagina.” It’s fucking crazy!’
It’s caused controversy…
‘I did a photoshoot for someone, for some fashion stuff, and they were like, “Black models are never used in the fashion industry and we don’t like that.” Cool. But then I end up standing in front of a bunch of black models – separated from them.
‘To them it was totally a tonal thing, not a racial issue, but I know the way that people pick at stuff and find ways to be offended. We have to be in the same line; you can’t put the white girl out front.’
You’ve also faced allegations of racism on Twitter. Would you say that you’ve learned to manoeuvre through the politics of race in America?
‘I’ve had to learn that people are more hypersensitive – wrongly or rightly – than I’d realised, and more than a lot of Europeans realise. You don’t really get it until you move to the US and think: Oh shit, this is a lot more prevalent than I’d understood. I’ve had to learn to be hypersensitive too. But some controversy, not race-related but sexual: fuck that shit.’
Speaking of which, you’ve been romantically linked to more or less everyone: Nas, Kanye West, Harry Styles.
‘It’s weird. There’ll be people I like that I’m so open about and no one cares, then I sit next to someone and the tabloids are like: “They’re banging for sure.” I make it so obvious who I’m having sex with. Last month my mum was like: “Are you really dating Harry Styles?” And I was like: “No, I’m not.” We’ve never spoken to each other, we just randomly had a picture taken together and he thinks I should have won the [MTV Artist to Watch] award, but we don’t have sex. He doesn’t even have my number.’
Iggy's rude bits
The hit single
Azalea’s breakout hit ‘Pu$$y’ features the word ‘pussy’ 34 times. Even Mrs Slocombe couldn’t top that. More impressive still, she manages in one song to liken her vagina to the Amazon, weed, crack, molten lava, Skittles, mouthwash and the Titanic – in that order.
The sex life
Early last year Iggy made official her relationship with fellow rapper A$AP Rocky by tattooing ‘Live. Love. A$AP’ on her fingers. The ‘A$AP’ bit was crossed out after the pair split six months later. She says Rocky has an equivalent tattoo of his own – just not anywhere that’s visible.
The owner of the best bum in the biz denies having cheek implants. Her booty-poppin’, twerking dance move is all Azalea as well. ‘I’ve been doing that on stage for two-and-a-half years,’ she told Paper magazine recently. ‘[Miley Cyrus] probably watched my videos online and decided to try it.’
Azalea’s best line is also one of her dirtiest. ‘Valley girls givin’ blowjobs for Louboutins. What you call that? Head over heels?’ she spits on her track ‘Work’. The rap, she insists, is not autobiographical: ‘Honestly, I’ve only ever sucked dick for free,’ she told Gigwise.com.
Watch Iggy Azalea's 'Change Your Life' video
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We keep trying not to like Charli XCX. It's not that she hasn’t got enough things wrong with her – the shameless ’90s revivalism, the super-heavy make-up, her drawling half-rap… And yet she keeps cracking out effortlessly great R&B tracks that make it difficult to dismiss her, and working with super-hip producers like Alex Metric and J£zus Million – not to mention featuring on tracks for the chart-smashing likes of Iggy Azalea and Icona Pop. Come down and try and unpick her enigma.
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