The New Classic
|The New Classic|
|Studio album by Iggy Azalea|
|Released||21 April 2014|
|Label||Virgin EMI, Island|
|Iggy Azalea chronology|
|Singles from The New Classic|
The New Classic is the debut studio album by Australian recording artist Iggy Azalea. The album was released on 21 April 2014, under Island in US, Virgin EMI in UK, and affiliated record labels in other countries. Azalea came to prominence after releasing her debut mixtape Ignorant Art and subsequently aligning herself with American rapper T.I. and his Hustle Gang imprint. Azalea first mentioned plans for the album in December 2011 but after numerous delays and label conflicts, Azalea eventually secured herself a record contract through Island Def Jam Music Group (now defunct).
The album debuted inside the top five of several charts worldwide and was preceded by four singles: the album's lead single "Work", performed well commercially, charting at number 17 in the UK charts. The album's second single, "Bounce", saw a similar success in the United Kingdom, peaking at 13. The third single "Change Your Life", peaked at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart, her first UK Top 10 single, and also made appearances on Australian, New Zealand and US charts. The fourth single, "Fancy" featuring British singer Charli XCX, reached top-five in the United Kingdom, becoming her highest charting single to date. It also reached number one on Billboard Hot 100 and Canadian Hot 100.
After releasing her first full-length project, a mixtape titled Ignorant Art (2011) and a music video for a song titled "Pu$$y" that went viral, Iggy Azalea found prominence in the music industry and went on to become the first female and non-American rapper selected for hip hop magazine XXL's annual Top 10 Freshman cover issue. The major attention led to negotiations for a record deal with Interscope Records. In a December 2011 interview, Azalea revealed her debut album's title to be The New Classic and that she had hopes of releasing it in the first quarter of 2012. She also stated she would be signing to a major record label "soon and 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". Azalea later explained the concept behind her debut album's title: "I think people think of classic and they think of a Nas record or a Jay-Z record or The Chronic, what makes something classic is when you hear it and you have that moment that is a time capsule. When I say 'The New Classic,' I just want to make records that give you that moment for fans that they can remember where they were when they heard it."
In January 2012, Azalea announced via Twitter, that she had struck a deal with Jimmy Iovine resulting in her being signed to Interscope Records. Azalea went on to state: "Interscope, if you were wondering [...] Get used to me + jimmy smashing s**t, cause thats the plan". However in the following weeks she announced to MTV News, that American rapper T.I. had contacted her in relation to working with her as an executive producer of her upcoming album, although T.I. later stated it was Azalea who had asked him to be part of the record.
Both T.I. and Azalea discussed their encounter to MTV News, in which Azalea claimed that he reached out to work with her, and she "found a position for him", T.I. recalled their first conversation in which she told him "it's very smart of you to call me because I'm going to be smashing shit for quite some time". In March 2012, T.I. announced he signed Iggy Azalea to Grand Hustle Records. 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 was 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). In an interview with Interview magazine, Azalea clarified her move from Interscope Records to Grand Hustle Records, she called the signing "very impersonal" feeling that she "was a product" and after meeting T.I. she felt that he cared and understood her as a rap artist rather than her commercial viability. Azalea worried that if she was to make a mistake with her career that Interscope Records would not support her, and she felt that being signed to the label was for commercial reasons rather than artistic.
On 13 February 2013, it was announced Azalea had signed a record deal with Mercury Records. Despite announcing she was part of T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint, it was then confirmed that she had signed a deal with Island Def Jam Music Group, she announced via Twitter: "Hey world. I signed to island def jam. Iam now mercury UK/ island def jam USA awesome!!!!". It was then stated that her deal with Interscope was never finalized and that she was only affiliated with Grand Hustle Records, and Azalea clarified her affiliation with the label saying: "That doesn't mean I’m not in hustle gang. Save it. Still in it. Still on the hustle gang album. Friendship doesn't require contracts". Chris Anokute a Senior Vice President of Island Def Jam, later welcomed her to the record label tweeting: "Congrats Iggy. You have a voice that needs to be heard. We got your back". In an interview with Blare magazine, Azalea explained that Island Def Jam made her feel more confident as a musician, and she felt less pressure from them as a company.
Recording and production
In an interview with 16Bars.TV, released in 2013, Azalea revealed that although she is still signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint, he would no longer be executive producer of her debut album: "He's actually not, anymore," Azalea said when asked about T.I.'s role. "He was going to be, but originally...all the records that I had on Glory [EP] were supposed to be on The New Classic, and he executive produced what ended up being Glory." Azalea said that artistically, both she and T.I. agreed that she needed to go in a different direction with her debut: "As I was making it, I felt like, 'This isn't The New Classic; this is something else. It's not the right sound.' Not that it sounded bad, but it wasn't what The New Classic is in my head. And he executive produced that, and that went good, it was an experience, but after, he said and I said, it's better if I just make my own music away [from him] because sometimes being around him, it influences the music I make to be a bit too much of a different sound, and so for that reason he's not going to be [executive producing]. But not because I don't love him, because I love him." Azalea also said she would be working with producers such as Diplo, Steve Aoki and Flosstradamus on the album, which she said she began working with earlier in December.
In February 2012, Azalea premiered a song titled "Picture Me Rollin", performing it in Los Angeles in Dim Mak Studio. The song, which was set to be included on the album, was produced by Canadian record producer Boi-1da. In April 2012, Azalea revealed she had collaborated with R&B singer Trey Songz: “I did do a song with Trey Songz that’s kind of unexpected,” she told The Boombox. “The beat, and the way he sings, it’s kind of different [from] his regular style. I’m going to put that out, probably before the album.” The album, which at the time set to be an Interscope Records release, would represent her different sides: “Some stuff is very base-driven, stripped down, more southern-sounding. Then other stuff is more mood and closer to my ignorant [side],” shared Azalea. “I kind of like have two different zones. It’s ratchet, then introspective, I guess. Those are the two sounds, and I’m trying to glue all the things together, and find things that will make it cohesive.”
Later in 2012, Azalea also mentioned collaborations with Cee-Lo Green and Pusha T, would probably make it to the album's final tracklist. She had also revealed hopes of a collaboration with Missy Elliott, stating: "working with her is definitely something that I’m going to try to do before I put The New Classic out." In December 2012, via her Twitter feed, Azalea revealed she would be remaking a song titled "Home Town Hatred", for the album. In December 2012, Azalea confirmed Tyga and Rita Ora, as possible features that will be included on the album. On 13 March 2013, after she released the music video for the lead single "Work", it was reported Azalea was working on her debut album in the United Kingdom.
During her headlining European tour in December, Azalea spoke on the albums composition: "It's going to be similar to TrapGold and that will be very electronic and high-energy but I'm gonna talk more about my story and where I'm from and things about myself because I never really say that, I don't tell you too much about me, it's kind of just talking a lot of shit. It's what I really do, like energy and dance... but I do wanna touch on who I am and tell my story because I feel like I have a really interesting story and a lot of people don't know that because a lot of people don't see the interviews and I would like to put it in my music that I've been waiting for the right time for something that I feel like people will hear in the right platform and I think it will be this album so the near future will just be trying to tell my story in that album next year." In an interview with Billboard, released in August 2013, Azalea described the album as "fairly electronic, like moombahton mixed with hip-hop".
Release and promotion
On 27 September 2011, Azalea released her debut mixtape, titled Ignorant Art, saying she made it "with the intent to make people question and redefine old ideals”. On 30 July 2012, she released a free extended play (EP) titled Glory. On 27 January 2012, Azalea confirmed she had finally signed to Interscope Records and her debut album The New Classic, would be released in June, with a debut single preceding it in March. On 11 October 2012, Azalea released her second mixtape, TrapGold. TrapGold features the new direction Azalea began to go with her music at the time.
During January and February 2013, Azalea was the supporting act for British singer-songwriter Rita Ora's Radioactive Tour in the United Kingdom. During March 2013, Azalea was the supporting act for American rapper Nas, on his Life Is Good concert tour in the United Kingdom. In June 2013, Azalea stated she had completed the album and it was set to be released in early September. On 8 August 2013 Azalea unveiled the album's tentative track-listing, which included neither "Work" nor "Bounce". During an October 2013 interview, Azalea talked about the album's release date:
"The official date? F---ed 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. 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. The marketing team gets to control me unfortunately, I don’t get to control that."
During October and November 2013, Azalea was the supporting act for American singer-songwriter Beyoncé's The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in Australia. On 8 January 2014, in promotion for her album, Azalea released a freestyle over "Animal Noise", which was produced by EDM producer Bro Safari. On 26 January 2014, during an interview at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, Azalea announced that The New Classic would be released on 14 April 2014.
On 26 February 2014, in an interview with Los Angeles radio station Power 106, Azalea spoke on her long-awaited and often-delayed album: "In a way I'm very glad that it has taken a long time, because I've had so many experiences and I really feel like the last two years have been fast-forwarded and I had just so many different things happen to me that's been a lot of great things to write about..."
The album became available for pre-order 10 March 2014, along with an instant gratification track, “Fancy“ or “Impossible Is Nothing”, depending on the country. The album was officially released on April 21 in the United Kingdom, April 22 in the United States and April 25 in Australia.
The New Classic Tour
To promote the album, Azalea announced a 14-date North American tour kicking off on 23 April in Boston and stopping in major cities including Detroit, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, wrapping 22 May in Seattle. She also plans to tour festivals in Europe throughout the summer, with dates to be announced shortly.
Azalea released "Work", her commercial debut single on 17 March 2013. The song, produced by 1st Down and The Invisible Men, serves as the album's lead single. It was described as a subdued trap-meets-snap tune about Azalea’s peculiar coming-of-age as a model who came to America in her teens before trying her hand at rap (“no money / no family / 16 in the middle of Miami”). Commercially the song performed well, charting within the top twenty in the UK charts and within the top three of the UK R&B charts, as well as managing to chart in Australia, Ireland and Scotland. The music video for the song was shot in the last week of February 2013 and premiered 13 March 2013, on VEVO. Directed by Jonas & François, the video "is all trailer park elegance, dive bar lap dances, and a bit of ‘Bad Girls’-inspired ridin’ around and/or gettin’ it". Azalea revealed the inspirations for the visuals included Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Tarantino's Death Proof and the music video for Outkast's "B.O.B.". On 17 July 2013, MTV announced Azalea's "Work" video had been nominated for the "Artist To Watch" category at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. In 2014, "Work" received a resurgence in popularity in the United States, following Azalea's simultaneous success with The New Classic, "Fancy" and "Problem". It re-entered Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles at a position of number three on 10 May 2014, before entering the Billboard Hot 100 at number 88, and re-entering at a new peak of number 24 on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs the week after. "Work" also debuted at number 14 on Billboard Hot Rap Songs for the week ending 17 May 2014, marking Azalea's second top 20 hit on that chart.
The second single released in anticipation of the album was "Bounce", which premiered on BBC Radio 1 on 26 April 2013. The song was released via digital distribution on 24 May 2013. The music video for "Bounce" was filmed in April 2013 in Mumbai and premiered 6 May 2013, on VEVO. The video, which was directed by BRTHR Films, is Bollywood-themed. "Bounce" serves as the album's second single in Europe and Australia, while "Change Your Life", was released as the second single in North America. The song charted at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. "Bounce" also received positive reviews from critics, who deemed it Azalea's most commercial song to date, "[Azalea] pairs the fiery raps for which she gained popularity with a club-friendly house beat that’s the most commercial thing we've heard from her to date — more so even than the trappy 'Work.'"
In a May 2013 interview with Rap-Up, after Azalea revealed she was no longer signed to Grand Hustle Records, she announced the album's third single would be titled "Change Your Life" and would feature T.I. She also revealed the melodic song finds her singing for the first time. "It's a big record," said Azalea of the single. "I think it will be good to have T.I. on that single and just show that we're together, we're still family. It's definitely not me trying to make my silent exit from Hustle Gang." "Change Your Life" premiered on BBC Radio 1Xtra on 19 August 2013. It was later released via digital distribution on 13 October. The song peaked at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming her highest-charting single on that chart at the time.
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. Azalea later revealed the song was in fact produced by The Invisible Men & The Arcade, who she collaborated with on the entire album. 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. 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". 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. The music video for "Fancy", inspired by the 1995 American comedy film Clueless was released on 4 March. Thanks to "Fancy" and "Problem", in which she is the featured artist, Azalea joined The Beatles as the only acts to rank at numbers one and two simultaneously with their first two Hot 100 hits. Moreover, Azalea passes Lil' Kim as the female rapper with the longest-leading #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and moves into a tie for fifth place among lead women who have scored the longest commands on the Hot 100 this decade.
On 26 February 2014, in an interview with Los Angeles radio station Power 106, Azalea revealed that the next single from the album would be a song written by her and Katy Perry, featuring an undisclosed female artist, who was later revealed to be Rita Ora, when the official track-listing was unveiled on 10 March 2014.
Upon its release, The New Classic received generally mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100, the album received an average score of 57, which indicates "mixed or average reviews", based on 25 reviews. Simon Vozick-Levinson of Rolling Stone said, "Iggy swaggers through her first LP with all the zero-fucks-given zest of the Nineties baby she is, trumpeting her story on underdog anthems like "Work" and "Don't Need Y'all." Savvier still, she dresses them up in the kind of shamelessly poppy hooks that make Top 40 programmers giggle in delight and "real hip-hop" heads shake theirs sadly. If this is the future, it's one strange place." Tshepo Mokoena of The Guardian stated, "Australian rapper Iggy Azalea's debut has appeared in recently typical form for the genre: with a long delay and slew of singles. The New Classic barely resembles the west coast hip-hop Azalea idolised and imitated when developing her voice, and sits somewhere between EDM, dance-pop and trap music. Azalea can still spit out rapid-fire verses, but this album feels less forward-thinking than her 2011 Ignorant Art mixtape." Alfred Soto of Spin stated, "It's conceivable that Azalea needed to release this damn thing before moving on to projects she doesn't turn into dunking booths for the obliging guest MCs. But I hear few indications in The New Classic of ambition existing apart from the itch for celebrity." Phil Johnson of The Independent gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, saying "And yet omens be damned for, in fact, this is an instantly engaging showcase of the 23-year-old Aussie’s talents – poppy without diluting her fierce-flowing charisma."
Kellan Miller of XXL gave the album an L rating, saying "The intensity of an Aussie bobcat in Miami poised to pull off the upset of the century has all but departed by the time “Fuck Love” rolls around. Although a few late quarter misfirings render the album’s title misleading, there is too much good here to say with a straight face that Iggy will amount to nothing more than a flash in the pan. The New Classic is a persuasive indicator that Iggy Azalea will be around for the long haul." Joe Sweeney of Slant Magazine said, "The New Classic mistakenly tries to frame Azalea as hip-hop's newest can't-miss egomaniac, focusing on the riches instead of the far more interesting rags." David Jeffries of AllMusic said, "Put the tried and true singalong "Change Your Life" with T.I. on the track list, along with the traptastic "Fancy" featuring Charli XCX, and The New Classic features an EP or so worth of memorable moments that mash fashion, sass, high tax bracket mackin', and flashy beats. Taken in as an album and Azalea's constant "bow down" attitude makes this a cuckoldish experience, so think "some will pay for what others pay to avoid" and approach accordingly."
The New Classic was named one of the best hip-hop albums of the year by XXL on a list published on June 30, 2014, adding that "the album proved to a gang of skepts who doubted Iggy’s controversial style from the start that she was more than capable of making hip-hop tracks with a pop appeal."
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 Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. Azalea also logs the highest bow for a female rapper's debut album since Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday entered at number two. In its second week the album sold 23,000 more copies. It also moved up to Number 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums, making Azalea the first non-American female rapper to reach the summit of these charts. In its third week the album sold 15,000 more copies in the United States. In its fourth week, the album sold 16,000 more copies. As of August 13, 2014, the album has sold 283,000 copies in the United States.
|1.||"Walk the Line"||
|2.||"Don't Need Y'all"||
|3.||"100" (featuring Watch The Duck)||
||Watch The Duck||4:09|
|4.||"Change Your Life" (featuring T.I.)||The Messengers||3:40|
|5.||"Fancy" (featuring Charli XCX)||
|8.||"Impossible Is Nothing"||
|10.||"Black Widow" (featuring Rita Ora)||3:29|
|11.||"Lady Patra" (featuring Mavado)||
|Deluxe edition bonus tracks|
|13.||"Bounce"||Reeva & Black||2:47|
|Best Buy deluxe edition bonus tracks|
|16.||"Fancy (GTA Remix)" (featuring Charli XCX)||
|17.||"Bounce (Jester Remix)"||
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||2|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||2|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||48|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||65|
|Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)||58|
|French Albums (SNEP)||106|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||83|
|Irish Albums (IRMA)||13|
|New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)||3|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||16|
|Scottish Albums (OCC)||6|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||37|
|UK Albums (OCC)||5|
|UK R&B Albums (OCC)||1|
|US Billboard 200||3|
|US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||1|