2014 was a strange year for everyone. We lost Robin Williams, the country had the first robot land on a comet, and an Australian white girl who sounded like she was from Atlanta dropped her debut album dubbed “The Classic.” Iggy Azalea garnered a few top billboard hits from it, such as the Charli XCX-featured, “Fancy”, and “Black Widow.” She even received a Grammy nomination for “Fancy”, and even a nomination for Best Rap Album for The New Classic.
Controversy, criticism on questionable rapping skills, and constant commentary about her cultural appropriating the rap industry due to her seemingly put on imitation of a black woman from the south made Azalea’s career took a slight tailspin for the worst. Her label Island Records was refusing to let her release music, but she ultimately decided to take the independent route and sign a distribution deal with EMPIRE. Fast forward to now, and Azalea was able to drop her second studio effort.
In 2013, Iggy Azalea said in a Complex interview in a response to a question about criticism of her audible blackface persona, she said “If you’re mad about it and you’re a black person then start a rap career and give it a go, too. I’m not taking anyone’s spot. So make yourself a mixtape. Or maybe if you’re black, start singing like a country singer and be a white person. I don’t know. Why is it such a big deal? This is the entertainment industry. It’s not politics. You should be more concerned about the message, not the voices saying it.” Her answer was riddled with ignorance in the simple fact that she doesn’t realize that her whiteness makes her automatically marketable in the industry, whereas black women making a mixtape would most likely not get recognized as much as a white woman with mediocre rhymes, and that is where the problem with cultural appropriation lies. Where a black woman would be ridiculed and reprimanded for a certain behavior or style, a white woman will be praised and given accolades.
With all of that controversy, the boldly titled sophomore effort In My Defense should have been an ample opportunity to get personal and address her infamy and controversial career, but instead, we were left with more shallow content on top of some heavy bass and 808 trap beats. Although I believe people can become educated and elevate their thinking when it comes to coming from a place from ignorance, I feel that Azalea has still not gotten to that point and that is evident with some of the sentiments we here on In My Defense.
She doubles down on her tone-deaf attitude towards cultural appropriation with lines like “Cause I talk like this and my ass fat, they be saying Iggy tryna act black,” heard on the track “Clap Back”. Later on, in the song, she addresses her infamous “I’m a runaway slave master” line by saying, “They call me racist, the only thing I like is green and blue faces.” She takes the dire condemnations and social commentary from African Americans and fellow music industry peers as a surface level issue, and not as a reemergence of the constant “blackface” trope that we see in the industry with some artists (CC Miley Cyrus).
All political and social commentary aside, In My Defense failed to be anything other than a little less than unexceptional. In an opportunity where Azalea could have debuted a reinvented or reclaimed the sound of her own, she blended into the murky hip-hop waters of recycled beats (i.e. Cardi B’s “Money” and Iggy Azalea’s “Sally Walker”). Some prominent features like Lil Yachty, Kash Doll, and Juicy J still weren’t enough to stand this one out from the pack. There were a few catchy bangers like her single, “Started”, and even the outro track “Pussy Pop”, but nothing with too much replay value.
In My Defense could have been an opportunity to grab a cleaning rag and shine up her career, but it instead it added a layer of dull rust to her legacy.