The white-skin with blonde hair has a striking, Eminem shock of the new to it, topped with a trademark ponytail that swings like a mace, recalling Madonna’s Blonde Ambition with a smattering of Gaga meets Mira Sorvino. It’s what the word ‘bombshell’ was made for, arresting before she’s even opened her mouth. But even in rap’s multi-storey car park of cultural complexity, she’s not hip-hop. The modelling contract she’s secured as a “happy accident” is more of a given, but a rapper?
The contradictions don’t stop there. Of an Australian upbringing, she interviews in a quintessential Pom-bashing twang. Yet her rhyming dialect sounds like she’s been under the tutelage of Trina and a posse of the South’s baddest belles all her life. She swears like a trooper and freaks like a guttersnipe but can lock it down commercially. Perez Hilton is a fan. She holds Tupac and Missy Elliott as heroes and inspirations, can already claim an EP featuring BoB and Pusha T (“good bragging rights I guess”), is on TI’s Grand Hustle Records but is a protégé to no-one, and has had her share of label drama.
Iggy Azalea is hip-hop’s current taboo breaker, and you know she’s not gonna hold back.
Except that’s the thing. In conversation she sounds relaxed, almost girly in places with that sunshine inflection, and is genuinely pleased to receive compliments about her output and having the opportunity to do the ‘dirtier’ work of fielding questions and photo shoots. “I don’t like to write (rhymes) on paper because I’m left-handed and I smudge my pen, so when I try to, I just end up with a hand covered in ink.” Cute: not the comments of someone who regularly unloads over monstrous Southern bass skitters. For someone who raps in crunk-ish broken English, stacks bundles and out-gangstas the boys, claims she has a “body banging like gunplay” and is “maybe the realest bitch they ever dealt with” and suggestively licks ice lollies as per the video ‘Pu$$y’, there’s the feeling that Iggy must be a pussycat in real-life – or, put another way, she can’t be that dangerous during her day-to-day so that the masculinising is a strictly on-wax persona. She values consistency and hard work, and doesn’t come across as someone that loves the sound of her own voice.
Far from finding interviews intrusive or taking up her time that could be better spent, Iggy appreciates them as a natural chance to set the record straight, and not in a bid to simmer down any controversy. “I definitely like to be able to speak and explain myself, with juxtapositions or from a left of field view that maybe a lot of other people perhaps don’t share, so it is good to be able to explain yourself at times. It’s good to have an open forum when you’re thrown a lot of questions and it’s nice for me to be able to answer them for people to better understand what I’m trying to do.”
On the other hand, she also thinks others need to shut the fuck up. Sometimes, not least herself. “I think off the mic I’m probably worse in real life actually! On the mic I’m toning it down a bit – in real life I’m much worse than in song! With interviews, I’m much more reserved. I think it’s because whenever I’m in front of a camera talking I just like to make sure I’m speaking in a way that everyone can understand and I’m getting my message across, and that music is the time for you to have fun. When I get the chance to explain myself I’m a bit more serious and thought out.”
Words by Matt Oliver
Photo by Arno Frugier
Fashion by Delphine Danhier
The full version of this interview appears in the October 2012 issue of Clash Magazine. Find out more about the issue.
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