On her first EP, Iggy Azalea has a problem deciding which direction to go, and while it’s been proven time and time again that vocalists can rap and sing at the same time, I’m not sure Iggy quite knows how her voice complements the fairly broad musical styles represented. Part of this disconnect comes from her decision to open with the two strongest tracks on the album – including the amazing second track, massive banger “Murda Bizness” featuring label-mate T.I. – while slowly fading into a semi-successful moray of modern hip-hop sensibilities as it progresses; pop EDM heavily influences her production and vocal delivery. This pop sensibility is most obvious on opening track, “Millionare Misfits,” featuring B.o.B., an artist in a similar sound space as Iggy. The track is a squealing, delicious radio single that sees Iggy and B.o.B. supporting each other more than any 3other feature on the track, a tactic that serves the album well, creating one cohesive song that flows well between the pop chorus and hip-hop verses.
“Murda Bizness,” it bears repeating, is some real hard shit. The giant, super crisp beat suits both Iggy and T.I., highlighting Iggy’s brash, crisp drawl and T.I.‘s more laid back flow, though with many of the same, sharp deliveries; these two clearly work well with each other creatively, Iggy’s flow is obviously influenced by T.I. on some level. Though she released this song months ago, “Glory” drops at just the right time to become one of the hottest summer party jams of the year.
But the follow-up track, “Runway”, featuring Kanye West‘s current pet pupil Pusha T, is almost the exact opposite. The disconnect between vocalist Iggy and rapper Iggy is obvious when she opens the song’s chorus singing, and while it isn’t necessarily a poorly delivered chorus, and there’s something to be said about her vaguely husky, 5% androgenous voice; the jarring difference in personality when she delivers her verse is hard to wrap my head around. There’s an affectation – maybe even a passion – to her rapping that gives Iggy a unique flow that just isn’t present when she sings. The chorus could be sung by any generic R&B songstress, the beat could be any EDM producer, and though Pusha T delivers an admirable verse, the pieces never come together. Most of these critiques also hold true for “Flash (feat. Mike Posner)”: the beat just doesn’t work with her nasal rapping delivery, especially on such a sexytime slow jam. Posner, like Pusha T, shows her up a bit on this track, his voice more unique and suited to the beat than Iggy’s wet pussy rapping.
The other major problem on the EP is a lack of any fresh content Iggy raps largely about getting money, partying, and fucking up bitches; hardly unique material in today’s rap game. I would also be remiss to not mention the competing Azealea, the lovely Azealea Banks. Banks released a mixtape this summer, just two weeks before Iggy’s Glory EP, and while it’s far from perfect, Banks is clearly the superior lyricist. In fact, most popular female hip-hop artists are better lyricists than Iggy. That’s not to say she doesn’t have her moments – there are more than a few examples of clever wordplay – but the subject matter couldn’t be more stale, recycling 15 years of tired hip-hop tropes.
Closing track, “Glory,” does the best job of pairing her dissparate voices into one package, and the musical arc of the album feels very well composed, starting heavy and fading into a non-reggae but clearly reggae-inspired closing. The bravado here is more personal, with Iggy more hyping herself than hating on others, which pays off in a way the rest of her posturing doesn’t entirely.
Essentially, Glory is a solid hype release for a rising star, with a few questionable choices and a general lack of imagination. Iggy Azalea obviously has a lifetime to refine her sound and intentions, and the promise shows in her rapping and lyrical structure, though not as much the content itself. Hopefully her debut album, The New Classic, follows the more forgiving route for opening of the album: big nasty beats that forgive the lack of depth in the lyrics.