Iggy Azalea

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Iggy Azalea
Iggy Brit Awards 13.jpg
Iggy Azalea at the 2013 BRIT Awards
Background information
Birth nameAmethyst Amelia Kelly
Born(1990-06-07) 7 June 1990 (age 23)
Sydney, Australia
OriginMullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia
GenresHip hop, electronic dance[1]
OccupationsRapper, songwriter, model
Years active2007–present
LabelsMercury, Island Def Jam (current)
Grand Hustle (former)
Associated actsT.I., Diplo, FKi
Websitewww.iggyazalea.com
 
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Iggy Azalea
Iggy Brit Awards 13.jpg
Iggy Azalea at the 2013 BRIT Awards
Background information
Birth nameAmethyst Amelia Kelly
Born(1990-06-07) 7 June 1990 (age 23)
Sydney, Australia
OriginMullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia
GenresHip hop, electronic dance[1]
OccupationsRapper, songwriter, model
Years active2007–present
LabelsMercury, Island Def Jam (current)
Grand Hustle (former)
Associated actsT.I., Diplo, FKi
Websitewww.iggyazalea.com

Amethyst Amelia Kelly (born 7 June 1990), better known by her stage name Iggy Azalea /əˈzljə/, is an Australian recording artist and model from Mullumbimby, New South Wales. She relocated to the United States at the age of 16, first staying in Miami, Florida and then other parts of the South, including Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. She first gained recognition after the respective music videos for her controversial songs "Pussy" and "Two Times", went viral on YouTube. On 27 September 2011, Azalea released her first full-length project, a mixtape entitled Ignorant Art, saying she made it "with the intent to make people question and redefine old ideals".[2] In 2012, she announced her signing to Mercury Records and the following year to Island Def Jam. Azalea went into professional modeling, when she became represented by Wilhelmina Models, in the spring of 2012; later that year she was announced the "New Face of Levi Jeans".[3]

In 2012, Azalea became the first female, non-American rapper to be featured on XXL magazine's annual "Top 10 Freshman" cover issue. On 30 July 2012, she released Glory, her debut extended play (EP), which was executive produced by Grand Hustle label-boss and American rapper T.I.. On 11 October 2012, she released her second mixtape TrapGold, which was produced entirely by high-profile producer Diplo and 1st Down of production team FKi. The mixtape is significant for foreshadowing Azalea's new approach to music and her later work, which heavily includes electronic elements.

Azalea's debut studio album The New Classic, is set to be released in 2014. Initially set to be released with Grand Hustle and Interscope Records, after label conflicts, in 2013 Azalea finally secured a deal with Mercury Records and later Island Def Jam, to release her debut album. The album was preceded by the lead single and Azalea's commercial debut single "Work", which successfully charted on several international music charts and peaked at No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart. The other two singles that supported the album were "Bounce", and "Change Your Life", the latter of which features a guest appearance from T.I.

Early life[edit]

Iggy Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, in Sydney, Australia. Her family later relocated to Mullumbimby, New South Wales when she was still an infant, into a house on 12 acres that her father built by hand from mudbricks.[4][5][6] Her father was a painter and comics artist, while her mother cleaned holiday houses and hotels. Azalea says her father "made her look at [art] as a teenager", which has always influenced her life and work.[6] Azalea began rapping at age 14.[5] Before embarking on a solo career, Azalea formed a group with two other girls from her neighbourhood: "I was like, I could be the rapper. This could be like TLC. I'll be Left Eye."[7] Azalea eventually decided to disband the group because the other girls weren't taking it seriously: "I take everything I do serious. I'm too competitive."[7]

In pursuit of her desire of moving to America, Azalea dropped out of high school; instead choosing to work and save the money she earned by cleaning hotel rooms and holiday houses with her mother. She claims to have hated school, which besides her art class, only made her miserable. She also says she had no friends and was teased for her weird homemade outfits.[8] Azalea traveled to the United States in 2006, right before she turned 16. She told her parents she was going "on a holiday" with a friend, but eventually decided to stay and shortly after told them she was not coming back home: "I was drawn to America because I felt like an outsider in my own country, I was in love with hip hop, and America is the birthplace of that, so I figured the closer I was to the music, the happier I'd be. I was right."[9][10] She recalled: "My mum was crying, saying, 'Just be safe.' I was thinking, 'I'm going by myself. I'm fucking crazy!".[8] After her arrival in America, she resided in the U.S. on a visa waiver for six years, leaving the country every three months to renew it. She is currently in the country on a five-year O visa, having previously earned money illegally.[11]

Music career[edit]

2010–11: Moving to America and career beginnings[edit]

A self-portrait of Azalea from 2012.

When she first came to the United States, she stayed in Miami, Florida, and after a brief stint in Houston, Texas, Azalea settled for a few years in Atlanta, Georgia, working with a member of the Dungeon Family named Backbone. She says folks would laugh at her because "they thought my raps sucked." But having grown up getting laughed at, she was able to shrug it off.[12] Meanwhile, she'd met a guy from Interscope Records who kept encouraging her to move to Los Angeles, and so in the summer of 2010, she decided to do so. She was briefly managed by Interscope.[9][10][12] In 2011, Azalea began uploading a number of videos featuring her freestyling on YouTube, that subsequently went viral. Azalea's career began to flourish when her first official music video, for a song titled "Pu$$y", was uploaded on her YouTube channel.

On 27 September 2011, Azalea released her first full-length project, a mixtape titled Ignorant Art, saying she made it "with the intent to make people question and redefine old ideals".[2] Her song "Pu$$y", was included on the mixtape and features guest appearances from YG, Joe Moses, Chevy Jones and Problem. In November 2011, she released a music video for her song "My World", directed by Alex/2tone. The video features a cameo appearance from character actor and former wrestler Tiny Lister, which earned her more attention due to its rising popularity online.[13] "It's supposed to have like, all the ridiculousness of a big-budget '90s video, but then chopped and screwed," said Azalea, of the video.[14] In December 2011, Azalea revealed she would release her debut studio album, entitled The New Classic, as soon as she signed a major record label deal: "once that's sorted out and I establish an over all sound and direction for the album I will be able to know what artists would make for a dynamic collaboration".[15] On 11 January 2012, Azalea released the music video for "The Last Song", her third video from Ignorant Art.[16] In an interview with Billboard, released on 27 January, Azalea hinted at an Interscope Records signing, while also revealing hopes of releasing The New Classic in June, and for her debut single to precede it in March.[17]

2012: Label issues and Glory[edit]

I'm working with a different production company for my album than what I did for my mixtape [Ignorant Art], and I don't know who yet," Azalea told MTV News. "I'm still looking. T.I.'s gonna be helping me with it, kinda like A&Ring, kinda like executive-producing. He called me up and as like, 'Yo.' And I was like, 'Definitely. You're Tip. I love you, of course.' So he's gonna be kinda helping me out, like just kinda reaching out to people and helping me find production and pointing me in the direction of things that I might like. We're gonna start on that next week together. I'll probably fly out to Atlanta and we'll do it in between there because he's weird with traveling and stuff. I understand. We're in touch with each other. I have legal issues, he has legal issues. I get it. So hopefully that will be really dynamic and it'll help speed things along.

— Iggy Azalea speaking on her phone call and decision to work with T.I.[18]

Iggy Azalea reached out to Southern rapper T.I., for the direction of her debut album. The Atlanta rapper was set to executive produce The New Classic, soon after a phone call the two had. At the time, Azalea was eyeing a summer release for her debut, The New Classic: "Hopefully if all goes to plan, my album will be out in June and I'll have it recorded by the end of the month."[18] However, after Interscope did not allow T.I. to be an on-going part of her deal, Azalea opted not to sign with the major label and stay independently signed to Grand Hustle Records until the release of her first album, which had then been postponed.[19] In early 2012, Azalea was featured on the cover of XXL, as part of its annual "Top 10 Freshmen List", along with fellow up-and-coming rappers French Montana, MGK, Danny Brown, Hopsin, and Roscoe Dash.[20] On 1 March 2012, T.I. announced he signed Azalea to Grand Hustle Records along with rappers Chip and Trae tha Truth.[21][22] On 26 March 2012, Azalea posted "Murda Bizness", the intended lead single for The New Classic, on her YouTube account. The song was produced by Bei Maejor and features her Grand Hustle label-boss T.I..

In April 2012, via her Twitter feed, Azalea announced plans to release an EP entitled Glory later in May. "I'm just onto something right now, the last two weeks and it's glory. Azaleans need something new."[23] Also in April, Azalea starred alongside Grammy-nominated producer Diplo and FKi in the world's first fully interactive 'shoppable' music video for Canadian fashion retailer, SSENSE.[24] In May 2012, it was confirmed by T.I., on MTV's HipHopPov, that Azalea had not yet secured distribution for her deal with Grand Hustle Records, and was described by T.I. as a "free agent". It was later revealed in the interview that she is in negotiations with labels other than Interscope and possibly Def Jam (wherein Bu Thiam, whom of which originally placed a bid to sign her is VP of A&R).[25] Azalea was also featured on Steve Aoki and Angger Dimas' collaborative electronic track "Beat Down", which was released on 31 May 2012.[26]

Azalea at a red carpet event in September 2012.

In June 2012, it was announced Azalea signed with Wilhelmina Models International Inc., a prominent model and celebrity agency in the fashion industry, boasting notable entertainers such as Fergie, Estelle, and Natasha Bedingfield.[27] Azalea released "Millionaire Misfits", the second offering from her EP Glory, the first being "Murda Bizness", on 24 June 2012. On 21 July, the official music video for "Murda Buziness" was released online.[28] Glory, Azalea's debut EP, although not released in May, as it was originally scheduled, was released 30 July 2012. In September 2012, Levi's announced Iggy Azalea as the face of their new "Go Forth" campaign.[3] Azalea was also one of the acts on MTV's 2012 'Closer To My Dreams Tour', along with Tyga and Kirko Bangz.[29] Azalea also appeared in House of Holland's first eyewear collection campaign.[30] On 28 September 2012, Azalea announced she would be releasing her second mixtape on 11 October 2012. Titling it TrapGold, the mixtape was produced entirely by Diplo and FKi. She later premiered teaser visuals for the track "Bac 2 Tha Future (My Time)".[31] On 9 October 2012, Azalea made her US national television debut, appearing alongside T.I., B.o.B and other Grand Hustle artists in a cypher, at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards.[32] Later that month, she embarked on yet another North American mini-concert tour with Roc Nation singer-songwriter Rita Ora, on the MTV Presents The ORA Tour.[33] Azalea then headlined a tour in Europe to support TrapGold.[34] On 16 December 2012, Azalea performed live alongside Natasha Bedingfield and Bootsy Collins, covering Deee-Lite's 1990 hit disco song "Groove Is in the Heart", on the annual television show VH1 Divas.

2013–present: The New Classic[edit]

In January and February 2013, while working on her upcoming singles and The New Classic, which was announced to be released in the summer, Azalea was the opening act for Rita Ora's Radioactive Tour, in the United Kingdom.[35] As part of her set for Ora's Radioactive Tour, Azalea premiered "Work", the lead single from her debut studio album. The single premiered on BBC Radio 1Xtra on 11 February 2013.[36] On 13 February 2013, it was announced Azalea had signed a record deal with Mercury Records.[37] The music video for her commercial debut single "Work", was directed by Jonas & François and released 13 March 2013.[38] In March 2013, Azalea also joined renowned East Coast rapper Nas, on the European leg of his 'Life Is Good Tour'.[39]

On 15 April 2013, VEVO announced Azalea as its second LIFT artist of 2013 and that she would film live festival performances, fashion and style pieces and behind-the-scenes interviews as part of the eight-week-long campaign. It was also revealed that the music video for her second single "Bounce", would premiere on VEVO at the end of the month.[40] On 16 March 2013, it was announced that Azalea would perform in the beneficent concert "Chime for Change", scheduled to take place on 1 June in London, alongside Beyoncé, John Legend and others.[41] On 23 April 2013, Azalea announced that she had signed a solo record deal with Island Def Jam.[42] On 26 April 2013, Azalea's second European single "Bounce", premiered on BBC Radio 1.[43] Azalea then revealed, that the second American and third international single taken from her debut album would be entitled "Change Your Life", and features T.I.. She also mentioned she would be singing for the first time on the record. She also confirmed that she is not signed to Grand Hustle Records, however heavily affiliated with the label.[44]

On 25 May 2013, Azalea as part of Radio 1's Big Weekend in Derry, performed an acclaimed carnival themed set on the In New Music We Trust stage. The setlist contained songs from previous EP's and album material such as "Bounce" and "Work". The show was the start of a short set of UK pre-album promotional appearances.[45] In June 2013, Azalea confirmed that the album was nearly finished and that it's slated for release in September 2013.[46] On 29 July 2013, Azalea revealed she will be opening for Beyoncé on the 17-date Australasia leg of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in October and November.[47] The third single from The New Classic, titled "Change Your Life", was premiered by BBC Radio 1Xtra's MistaJam, on 19 August 2013.[48][49][50] On 3 October 2013, Azalea made her first appearance on BET's 106 & Park, where she was interviewed and performed "Change Your Life", alongside T.I.[51][52][53]

Azalea's debut album was slated for an October release but in an interview with Australia's Herald Sun, she revealed due to other commitments such as supporting Beyoncé on her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour her record label would not allow her to release The New Classic until March 2014. She said: "The official date? Fucked if I know! It's done, it's so depressing to say this but it's the beginning of March, it's so far away but I just have to accept that." She explained the reasons behind the delay: "It was supposed to be October but obviously I'm going on tour with Beyoncé and they said I'm not allowed to put an album out while I'm on tour because I'll be trapped in Australia and I won't be able to do any TV appearances and I thought that's fair enough, that's three weeks and then they said 'You can't put an album out around Christmas time, that's a bad time' and I said 'What about January?' 'Well nobody gets back off holidays and then it's the BRIT Awards, you can't release an album, it's terrible for marketing' which brings me to February."[54] On 10 November, Azalea performed "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards.[55]

Personal life[edit]

In late 2011, Iggy Azalea began dating American rapper A$AP Rocky, whom she met through American record producer Chase N. Cashe. She confirmed that they were dating in a January 2012 interview with Vibe Magazine. It was around this time that she got the title of Rocky's breakout mixtape Live. Love. A$AP, tattooed on her fingers.[56] She had claimed she was not the only one with tattoos dedicated to the relationship, just Rocky's were not visible.[56] In July 2012, Rocky stated they were no longer dating.[57] In March 2013, Azalea revealed she had crossed out the "A$AP" part of the tattoo, stating she had crossed it out months ago.[58]

Artistry[edit]

Influences[edit]

Azalea cites American rappers Tupac Shakur and Missy Elliott as major influences.

Although Azalea began rapping at the age of 14, she was infatuated with hip hop from age 11 when she heard Tupac Shakur's "Baby Don't Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II)": "It was the song that made me fall in love with music and also what sparked my Tupac fascination. That would later make me pick up my own pen and write songs".[59] In her early interviews, Azalea regularly mentioned her influence by Shakur: "I was sickly obsessed. I had every picture of Tupac ever printed on my wall".[5] She has also mentioned Missy Elliott as the female rapper who she is influenced by and admires the most.[59]

Azalea raps with a Southern American accent, although her native Australian accent is quite strong when she speaks. When she first moved to America, she was in Miami and later in Atlanta, heavily around the Southern hip hop scene, which made it easy for her to cultivate the Southern influence in her music: "I lived in the South for five years; you pick up things from your surroundings and teachers. The people who taught me to rap are all from the South and so was the music I had listened to as a teen."[59] Outside of music, her fashion sense is influenced by various people as well: "As far as people whose style interests me I'd say Grace Kelly, Gwen, Spice Girls, Victoria Beckham, and that nanny called Fran".[59]

Discography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearOrganizationAwardWorkResult
2012XXL MagazineFreshman Class Fan Vote Finalists[60]HerselfWon
mtvU Woodie AwardsBreakthrough Woodie[61]Nominated
O Music AwardsBest Web-Born Artist[62]Nominated
2013MTV Video Music AwardsArtist To Watch[63]"Work"Nominated
BBC Radio 1Xtra Hot Summer AwardsHottie of the Summer[64]HerselfWon
MOBO AwardsBest International Act[65]Nominated
MTV Europe Music AwardsBest Push[66]Nominated
Best Australian Act[66]Nominated
UK Music Video AwardsBest Urban Video[67]"Work"Nominated
Best Styling in a Video[67]Nominated
Channel V AustraliaV Oz Artist Award 2013[68]HerselfNominated
Attitude AwardsBreakthrough Artist[69]Won

References[edit]

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External links[edit]