Iggy Azalea

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Iggy Azalea
Iggy Azalea April 2014 (cropped).jpg
Azalea performing at Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, April 2014
Background information
Birth name Amethyst Amelia Kelly[1]
Born (1990-06-07) 7 June 1990 (age 24)
Sydney, Australia
Origin Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2011–present
Labels Virgin EMI, Def Jam (current)
Mercury, Grand Hustle (former)
Associated acts
Website www.iggyazalea.com

Amethyst Amelia Kelly (born 7 June 1990), better known by her stage name Iggy Azalea (/əˈzljə/), is an Australian recording artist from Mullumbimby, New South Wales. She left for the United States at the age of 16, to pursue a career in hip hop music, first residing in Miami, Florida, and then other parts of southern United States, including Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. She first gained recognition after the respective music videos for her controversial songs "Pu$$y" and "Two Times" went viral on YouTube. In September 2011, she released her debut mixtape Ignorant Art and subsequently aligned herself with Atlanta-based rapper T.I. In March 2012, T.I. announced Azalea's signing to his record label imprint Grand Hustle, as a result she released an EP executive produced by T.I., titled Glory, in July 2012. She later went into professional modeling, when she became represented by Wilhelmina Models and was announced the "New Face of Levi Jeans". Also in 2012, Azalea became both the first female and the first non-American rapper to be featured on XXL's annual Top 10 Freshman cover issue.

After label conflicts, her debut studio album The New Classic was finally released on 21 April 2014, under Virgin EMI and Def Jam Recordings. The album debuted inside the top five of several charts worldwide and received generally mixed reviews. The album was preceded by four singles, "Work", "Bounce", "Change Your Life" (featuring T.I.) and "Fancy" (featuring Charli XCX). "Fancy" went on to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, with Azalea becoming only the fourth solo female rapper ever to top the Hot 100. Additionally, with Azalea featured on Ariana Grande's single "Problem", which rose to number two on the Hot 100, the same week "Fancy" topped the chart, Azalea joined The Beatles as the only acts to rank at numbers one and two simultaneously with their first two Hot 100 hits.[3] Additionally, Azalea went on to pass Lil' Kim as the female rapper with the longest-leading number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and moved into a tie for fifth place, among lead women who have scored the longest commands on the Hot 100 this decade.[4][5]

Early life

Iggy Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly in Sydney, Australia. Her family relocated to Mullumbimby, New South Wales, when she was still an infant. The family lived in a house that her father built by hand from mud bricks, surrounded by 5 hectares (12 acres) of land.[6][7][8] Her father, Brendan Kelly, was a painter and comic artist, while her mother, Tanya, cleaned holiday houses and hotels.[9][10] Azalea has said that she has some Aboriginal (Indigenous Australian) ancestry: "My family came to Australia on the First Fleet. My family’s been in that country for a long time, over 100 years. If your family’s lived in Australia for a long time, everyone has a little bit of [Aborigine blood]. I know my family does because we have an eye condition that only Aboriginal people have." Her surname Kelly is of Irish origin.[11][12] Azalea has said that her father "made her look at [art] as a teenager", which has always influenced her life and work.[8] Azalea began rapping at age 14.[7] 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."[13] Azalea eventually decided to disband the group because the other girls weren't taking it seriously: "I take everything I do serious [sic]. I'm too competitive."[13]

In pursuit of her desire to move to America, Azalea dropped out of high school. She worked and saved the money she earned by cleaning hotel rooms and holiday houses with her mother. She claims to have hated school, which, apart from art class, only made her miserable. She also said she had no friends and was teased for her homemade outfits.[14] Azalea travelled 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 afterwards 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."[15][16] She recalled: "My mum was crying, saying, 'Just be safe.' I was thinking, 'I'm going by myself. I'm fucking crazy!"[14] After her arrival in America, she obtained her GED[17] and 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.[18]

Music career

2010–11: Moving to America and career beginnings

When she first arrived in the United States, she stayed in Miami, Florida, and afterwards lived briefly in Houston, Texas, Azalea settled for a few years in Atlanta, Georgia, working with a member of the Dungeon Family named Backbone. She took her stage name from the name of her childhood dog, Iggy, and the street she grew up on, Azalea Street, where her family lives to this day.[19] She said people would laugh at her because "they thought my raps sucked." But having grown up getting laughed at, she was able to shrug it off.[20] Meanwhile, she'd met someone 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.[15][16][20] In 2011, Azalea began uploading a number of videos featuring her freestyling on YouTube, that subsequently went viral.[citation needed] 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".[21] Her song "Pu$$y", was included on the mixed tape 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.[22] "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.[23] 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 overall sound and direction for the album, I will be able to know what artists would make for a dynamic collaboration".[24] On 11 January 2012, Azalea released the music video for "The Last Song", her third video from Ignorant Art.[25] 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.[26]

2012: Label issues and Glory

Main article: Glory (EP)

"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. 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 was 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."

— Azalea speaking on her phone call and decision to work with T.I.[27]

Iggy Azalea reached out to Southern rapper T.I., for the direction of her debut album. T.I. 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 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."[27] 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.[28] In early 2012, Azalea was featured on the cover of XXL, as part of its annual "Top 10 Freshman List", along with fellow up-and-coming rappers French Montana, MGK, Danny Brown, Hopsin, and Roscoe Dash.[29] On 1 March 2012, T.I. announced he signed Azalea to Grand Hustle Records, along with rappers Chip and Trae tha Truth.[30][31] 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 a verse from her Grand Hustle label-boss T.I..

Azalea in September 2012

In April 2012, via her Twitter feed, Azalea announced plans to release an extended play (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."[32] 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.[33] 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).[34] Azalea was also featured on Steve Aoki and Angger Dimas' collaborative electronic track "Beat Down", which was released on 31 May 2012.[35]

On 24 June 2012, Azalea released "Millionaire Misfits", the second offering from her EP Glory; the first being "Murda Bizness". On 21 July, the official music video for "Murda Buziness" was released online.[36] Glory, although not released in May, as it was originally scheduled, was released 30 July 2012. Azalea was also one of the acts on MTV's 2012 'Closer To My Dreams Tour', along with Tyga and Kirko Bangz.[37] 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)".[38] 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.[39] Later that month, she embarked on yet another North American mini-concert tour with Roc Nation singer-songwriter, Rita Ora, on Ora Tour.[40] Azalea then headlined a tour in Europe to support TrapGold.[41] 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

Main article: The New Classic

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.[42] As part of her set for Ora's Radioactive Tour, Azalea premiered her commercial debut single "Work", which also serves as the lead single for her debut album. The single premiered on BBC Radio 1Xtra on 11 February 2013.[43] On 13 February 2013, it was announced Azalea had signed a record deal with Mercury Records.[44] The music video for her debut single "Work", was directed by Jonas & François and released 13 March 2013.[45] In March 2013, Azalea also joined renowned East Coast rapper Nas, on the European leg of his 'Life Is Good Tour'.[46]

A young blond woman singing into a microphone on stage in front of an audience. She is wearing a pink-purple top and grey shorts as yellow stage lighting is shone upon her. Her right hand is in the air and her left hand is holding the microphone.
Azalea performing at the Irving Plaza in New York City on The New Classic Tour (2014).

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.[47] 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.[48] On 23 April 2013, Azalea announced that she had signed a solo record deal with Island Def Jam.[49] On 26 April 2013, Azalea's second European single "Bounce", premiered on BBC Radio 1.[50] Azalea then revealed, that the second American, and third international single taken from her debut album, is titled "Change Your Life", and features a verse from T.I.. She also mentioned she would be heard singing for the first time on the record. Azalea also confirmed that she is not signed to Grand Hustle Records, however heavily affiliated with the label.[51]

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.[52] In June 2013, Azalea confirmed that the album was nearly finished and that it's slated for release in September 2013.[53] On 29 July 2013, Azalea revealed she will be opening for Beyoncé on the 17-date Australia leg of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in October and November.[54] The third single from The New Classic, titled "Change Your Life", was premiered by BBC Radio 1Xtra's MistaJam, on 19 August 2013.[55][56][57] 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.[58][59][60]

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."[61] On 10 November, Azalea performed "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards.[62]

On 5 December 2013, an unfinished song by Azalea, which surfaced with the title "Leave It" and the tag "produced by DJ Mustard", was leaked online.[63][64][65] Azalea later revealed the song was in fact produced by The Invisible Men and The Arcade, whom she collaborated with on the entire album.[66] On 5 February 2014, Azalea announced that she would be releasing a new single titled "Fancy", featuring English singer-songwriter Charli XCX, later that week.[67] The song was premiered on BBC Radio 1 Xtra at 7PM GMT on 6 February 2014. After the song's premiere, it was revealed "Fancy" was the song that had leaked titled "Leave It".[68] On 17 February 2014, the song was serviced to urban contemporary radio in the United Kingdom as the album's fourth single and became her highest charting song to date.[69] The music video for "Fancy", inspired by the 1995 American comedy film Clueless was released on 4 March.[70] "Fancy" went on to become Azalea's most successful single to date, becoming her first single to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100.[71] It also reached number one on Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart,[72] as well as number one the US Dance Club Play chart.[73]

Azalea's often-delayed and long-awaited debut album, The New Classic, was released on 21 April 2014.[74] Upon its release, the album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 52,000 copies in the United States. The New Classic was the highest-charting female rap album since American rapper Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012). Azalea also logs the highest bow for a female rapper's debut album since Pink Friday (2010), which had entered at number two with 375,000 copies sold.[75][76] Azalea was then featured on American singer Ariana Grande's single "Problem", which was released on 28 April 2014. The song was released as the lead single from Grande's second studio album. Around this time, Azalea also appeared on Jennifer Lopez's eighth studio album, A.K.A. (2014).

On 28 May 2014, The New Classic '​s fourth single "Fancy", reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, with Azalea becoming only the fourth solo female rapper ever to top the Hot 100. On the same day, Ariana Grande's single "Problem", featuring Azalea, rose to number two on the Hot 100, with Azalea becoming the only artist since the The Beatles, to rank at numbers one and two simultaneously, with their first two respective Hot 100 hits. "Fancy" also topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart.[77] On 24 June 2014, Azalea's song "Black Widow", featuring Rita Ora, was serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio, as her debut album's fifth single in the US.[78] A reissue of The New Classic, titled "Reclassified", will be released in November 2014; it will feature six new songs. In November 2014, she was placed at number one on the Maxim Hot 100 list in Australia because "few Aussies, female or otherwise, have had a bigger 2014 than Iggy.".[79]

Other ventures

After at first resisting suggestions to try modeling,[80] in 2012 Azalea signed with Wilhelmina Models International Inc., a model and celebrity agency in the fashion industry.[81] Also in 2012, Iggy Azalea was the face of Levi's "Go Forth" campaign.[82] Azalea also appeared in House of Holland's first eyewear collection campaign.[83] In July 2014, MTV announced that Azalea would be the host of the revived House of Style.[84] It was also revealed that Azalea would be appearing on the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious film series set to be released in 2015.[85] In August 2014, the NY Post's Page Six reported that Azalea had formed a footwear collaboration with Steve Madden. Their shoe collection will be unveiled in February 2015.[86]

Musical style and influences

Azalea cites American rappers Missy Elliott (pictured) and Tupac Shakur as major influences

Although Azalea is Australian, she raps with a Southern American accent.[87] When she first moved to America, she was involved in the Southern hip hop scene of Miami and later Atlanta, 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."[88] While Azalea's debut extended play Glory was intended to focus on hardcore-rap, the EP also touched up on other genres including electronic dance music.[89][90]

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".[88] In her early interviews, Azalea regularly mentioned Shakur's influence: "I was sickly obsessed. I had every picture of Tupac ever printed on my wall".[7] She has also mentioned Missy Elliott as the female rapper who she is influenced by and admires the most.[88] Outside of music, her fashion sense is influenced by various people such as Grace Kelly, Lil' Kim, Gwen Stefani, Spice Girls, Victoria Beckham, and Fran Drescher.[88][91]

Personal life

In late 2011, Iggy Azalea began dating American rapper ASAP Rocky, whom she met through American record producer Chase N. Cashe. She confirmed that they were dating in a January 2012 interview with Vibe. It was around this time that she got the title of Rocky's breakout mixtape Live. Love. A$AP, tattooed on her fingers.[92] She had claimed she was not the only one with tattoos dedicated to the relationship, just Rocky's were not visible.[92] In July 2012, Rocky stated they were no longer dating.[93] In March 2013, Azalea revealed she had crossed out the "A$AP" part of the tattoo months previously.[94] She has been in a relationship with Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Nick Young, an American, since November 2013.[95] Azalea and Young were featured in the March 2014 issue of GQ magazine.[96]

Discography

Filmography

Films

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Fast & Furious 7 TBA Cameo appearance

Web

Year Title Role Notes
2014 House of Style Herself Host

Tours

Awards and nominations

See also

References

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