Iggy Azalea, the least likely female rapper since Lady Sovereign, has at last released her debut album, The New Classic (a somewhat overly confident title that lives up to its name). Intensely self-aware of her superficiality, Azalea transforms into an art. A perfect representation of music in a post-post-post modern world, Azalea encompasses all musical genres--which could also be due in part to the fact that she's Australian. Comfortable with stardom

"Walk the Line" is a strong opener that establishes Azalea's sardonic sense of humor with an intro that states, "We don't wanna scare your children. That's the last thing we wanna do." Combining her singing vocals with rapping, Azalea lures us in and ensures that we'll listen to The New Classic in its entirety. Second is "Don't Need Y'all," one of the only slow paced songs on the album, allowing Azalea to turn us out gradually as she informs her detractors, "If you wasn't here when I was down/Then you won't be here when I'm up/I don't need y'all anyway." Next up is "100" with Watch the Duck, a guitar-friendly offering that empowers Azalea's femininity as Watch the Duck raps, "Got your mind on your money/And you ain't lookin' to settle down." Azalea confirms the type of classy broad she is with the assertion, "No Michael Kors, just Tom Ford."

Model/rapper

"Change Your Life" is another glimpse into Azalea's cocksure lyrical style as she promises, "Ima change your life/Ima change it/Ima change your life." And it's true, with this album she does. With a contributing rap from T.I. (whose made a real resurgence since appearing on Britney Jean), "Change Your Life" is one of the catchiest and most likely songs to get in your head this summer.

Album cover for The New Classic shows Miami Vice the respect it doesn't deserve

"New Bitch" is an anthemic number you could easily picture listening to on a beach somewhere in Spain. Making snarky pop culture references like "y'all fell off like Mad Men," Azalea owns being the new bitch in a desirable man's life, asserting, "Who is this? Yeah I'm his new bitch." Another instant classic single, "Work" is Azalea in one of her most self-assured moments as she opens with, "Walk a mile in these Louboutins." Followed by the somewhat weaker "Impossible Is Nothing," Azalea is in one of her rare sing-songy moods, with occasional rapping that includes: "Promise to blaze a path and leave a trail for the next."

Werking it.

"Goddess" features a tribal sounding backbeat that escalates to an increasingly visceral tone. The intense guitar riff as the song comes to a close is the highlight of the piece. Following is "Black Widow" with Rita Ora to provide supportive vocals on the sentiment of wanting to kill someone after loving them too much (the old fine line between love and hate adage). Ora sings, "I'm gonna love ya until you hate me/I'm gonna show ya what's really crazy," while Azalea raps to a perfect complementary (and bloodlusting) pitch.

Making covers

"Lady Patra" featuring Mavado goes for a more island motif with Azalea declaring, "Gotcha Lady Patra!" Mavado's Jamaican roots feature heavily into the song and fortify the notion that Azalea is merely a pastiche of every musical genre. "Fuck Love" is a chaotic track that showcases Azalea's modeling persona as she chants, "Fuck love give me diamonds/I'm already in love with myself," not to mention fortifies our belief that she's a pop star savant with references like, "What if I'm a material girl?/You can't blame me, I live in a material world" and "My love don't cost a thing."

Single cover for "Bounce"

"Bounce" is yet another single, and a song that indicates Azalea's Euro-friendly vibe. Equal parts Mortal Combat and Ibiza-inspired, this is clearly the track to listen to when the MDMA takes effect in your system. "Rolex" has a more laidback sound as Azalea makes the connection between time needing to be repaid with luxury. Demanding, "Dammit baby, my time is money/I need payback for all the time lost," "Rolex" is yet another example of her material predilections. The last song, "Just Askin'", is not quite the strongest closing for the bonus track edition of the album, but manages not to offset the rest of The New Classic's goodness. In a throwback to 90s rap albums, the song includes a segment with someone dialing into their voicemail to hear an angry message. So, in that regard, it makes "Just Askin'" worthwhile.

Neo-glam

Azalea's buildup to The New Classic was well-established with her T.I.-produced EP Glory and Diplo-produced mixtape TrapGold. Proving herself in a gradual and controlled manner, Azalea has made all the right career moves thus far. And while her music is a part of that success, it is also the artful wielding of her image that will continue to affirm she's not just another drop in the pop/white female rap star bucket.

Although it seems like Kreayshawn has been with us for ages now (her first mixtape, Kittys x Choppas was released in 2010), Somethin’ Bout Kreay is her first full-length album to date, featuring the song that propelled her to fame, the anti-haute couture anthem, “Gucci Gucci.” In many ways, Somethin’ Bout Kreay proves that Kreayshawn is more than just a one-trick pony, as with the single, “Go Hard (La.La.La),” but in others it fortifies the notion that white girl rap may never be taken seriously as a genre, as with “Breakfast (Syrup).” What you take away regardless of your feelings about the music is this: Kreayshawn is bringing a sense of pride back to being a West Coastian pot smoker.

Opening with the perfect track to illustrate her disdain for those who try to condemn her, “Blasé Blasé” is equal parts M.I.A. and Lady Sovereign as she raps at one of her fastest paces, “Can’t hear haters, blasé blasé.” Her natural gift for charming overconfidence also shines through as she asserts, “Yes I’m beautiful and gorgeous/You know you can’t afford this/You’re drivin’ in a Ford bitch.” The next track, “Ch00k Ch00k Tare” featuring Chippy Nonstop, a fellow Oakland resident and badass bitch, is another sign of Kreayshawn’s musical progression. The pairing of their vocals together is surprisingly seamless, especially considering that most of the time, when two females have a similar style, it doesn’t always work well (e.g. Ke$ha and Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston).

“Gucci Gucci” serves as the third track, and still holds up just as cheekily as ever. Just barely making the cutoff for a song title like “Summertime,” Kreayshawn continues on her path of collaborations with V-Nasty in which she showcases her Californian steez to perfection with lyrics like, “Grab one beer and a bitch—maybe two and hit the sand and the water so I get cool” and “Can we go to the Y so you can roll my blunts when I get too high?” “Left Ey3” follows as arguably the best track on Somethin’ Bout Kreay, particularly with regard to how poetic her pop culture references to vengeance and insanity are. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ notorious arrest for arson after setting boyfriend and NFL football player Andre Rison’s bathtub on fire is used as the main point of reference by Kreayshawn as a metaphor for her intentions after being scorned. Not passing up a chance to make the best weed rhyme of all time, she professes, “I don’t need no TLC/All I need is THC.” She then gets to the crux of the song’s revenge message by rehashing, “Heard my man was cheatin’ with another bitch in my house/Now I’m gonna make a scene like I’m Amy Winehouse (rest in peace)…/I’m Lorena Bobbitt chillin’ in your bed/I’m Britney Spears on hella drugs and I just shaved my head.”

http://youtu.be/KleUddM2IPw

“Like It Or Love It” featuring Kid Cudi is another invitation for Kreayshawn’s detractors to go on hating her because, to her, there are only two options: “You like it or you love it.” “K234YSONIXZ” addresses a theme that starts too become to familiar at this point on the album: Haters attacking her for no reason. Though, admittedly, I would probably be just as defensive if I was Kreayshawn, the subject of constant venomous comments, but it would be nice if the motif of Somethin’ Bout Kreay was a bit more varied. Next up is “BFF (Bestfriend),” one of the most unique songs on the album for being duet and rap free—it’s simply Kreayshawn singing “I really wanna be your friend/And we don’t even have to hold hands.” Surprisingly, Kreayshawn’s voice works just as well in a non-rap capacity, with the intonation of the song almost echoing something Rihanna would perform.

“Twerkin!!!” featuring Diplo (who also co-produced the album) and Sissy Nobby is possibly the best collaboration on the album (which tends to be the case when Diplo is involved), opening with an infectious beat that immediately captures your attention. Kreayshawn holds that attention with yet another nod to obscure pop culture with the lyrics, “Like Milian, dip it low. Work it pretty girl, like you on the pole/You ain’t no ho, we know.” The goodness of "Twerkin!!!" is somewhat counterbalanced by “Breakfast (Syrup),” a valiant attempt at a love letter to breakfast/being stoned while making breakfast, with 2 Chainz to make it even less palatable. On the other hand, “Go Hard (La.La.La)” is one of the most danceable/driveable tracks on the album (in fact encouraging the cheapish cost of doing donuts in the parking lot).

“The Ruler” asks the important question “May I have my gold please? Thank you” and then establishes the rule, “Gold watch, gold chain, keep ‘em starin’. Fuck yo paper, that’s some old shit.” Yet another allusion to Kreayshawn’s incisiveness when it comes to modern times. The closing track, “Luv Haus,” exhibits the biggest departure from Kreayshawn’s usual style, with a serene, ethereal beat as she croons morose warnings like, “Let’s end before we start.” Perhaps saving this as her trump card, Kreayshawn displays her knack for dance-pop, which is a genre she could just as easily conquer--should she abandon California and rap altogether (a.k.a. this may be the only sample we ever get).

Like its simplistic album title, /\/\ /\ Y /\, heretofore to be referred to as Maya (because it takes a lot of fucking effort to type out the hieroglyphic emblem), opens with the equally simplistic, fifty-seven second "The Message." Though I usually hate it when artists use intros to start their album since it's generally just a way to make it look like there are more tracks than there really are, it actually works as a nice transition to track 2 on the record (yes, I say record. Fuck you, digitalism), called "Steppin Up." This finds us in the familiar electro sound MIA promoted on her debut, Arular. Following that is the second single from the album, "XXXO," recently remixed by Jay-Z to ensure success.

Some listeners have had mixed feelings about the deliberate and generic pop sound of "XXXO," but doubts about MIA's musical fearlessness are immediately assuaged by the futuristic beats of "Teqkilla," a song that sounds like something you might hear if there were jungles in space (and who's to say there aren't, really?). After "Teqkilla," "Story to Be Told" takes us to another far off place, beginning with the jets of a plane taking off and MIA's voice ethereally echoing, "All I ever wanted was my story to be told." It is easily one of the best cuts off the album.

"It Takes a Muscle" changes the entire tone of the album midway through, altering the mood to the tranquil ambience of relaxing on a beach (preferably one in southern Italy). "It Iz What It Iz" continues this sound with a somewhat 80s backing track for the music. However, while musically enjoyable, it gets kind of old to just hear her repeat "It iz what it iz/This is how I feel" without realizing that there's more to a song than just a chorus.

Next is another single from the album, "Born Free," already well-known for the video being briefly removed from YouTube due to some graphically violent imagery (but really, is there anything the American public hasn't seen already?). This is the track that truly ignited the fever for MIA's album release, a thesis for what was to come--not just musically, but also in terms of MIA's extremely vocal opinions about life in the twenty-first century, including the assertion that Google and Facebook are implements of the CIA (um, totally agreed).

"Meds and Feds" is probably the only song with a rock vibe out of all the tracks, contrasted by the succeeding song, "Tell Me Why," making use of MIA's actual singing talent as opposed to her knack for harsh shouting. Maya concludes with the airy and tenuous modulations of "Space," a perfect disunion from how the album began. Because MIA is all about confusing and discombobulating the expected order.

Some people still remember the much beloved number one single from 1963 by sugary sweet teen soloist-cum-lesbian Lesley Gore. Thinking about how classic the song is considered, I wondered if it would fare as well in the music market of 2002, or would it have to be altered to accommodate more modern, and well, more crude tastes? Why 2002? It's such an arbitrary year--but it's not. That's the year I pinpoint the true death of decent mainstream music. If my pop to rap conversion sensibilities are correct, the lyrics would be transformed from this: It's my party and I'll cry if I want to/Cry if I want to/Cry if I want to/You would cry too if it happened to you/Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone/Judy left the same time/Why was he holding her hand?/When he's supposed to be mine/It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to/Cry if I want to, cry if I want to/You would cry too if it happened to you/Playin' my records, keep dancin' all night/Leave me alone for a while/'Till Johnny's dancin' with me/I've got no reason to smile/It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to/Cry if I want to, cry if I want to/You would cry too if it happened to you/Judy and Johnny just walked through the door/Like a queen with her king/Oh what a birthday surprise/Judy's wearin' his ring/It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to/Cry if I want to, cry if I want to/You would cry too if it happened to you.

...to the far more lewd and inappropriate rap version:

It's my motherfuckin party and I'll motherfuckin cry if I goddamn want to you stupid bitches/Cry if I fuckin want to/Cry if I fuckin want to/You twat, you would cry too if it fuckin happened to you/Nobody knows where that asshole Johnny has gone/That slut Judy left at the same time/Why was he holding her fuckin fake tanned hand?/When that horny felch loving bastard is supposed to be mine?/It's my motherfuckin party and I'll motherfuckin cry if I goddamn want to you stupid bitches/Cry if I fuckin want to/Cry if I fuckin want to/You twat, you would cry too if it fuckin happened to you/Playin' the shit songs on my iPod, keep scorchin the motherfuckin dancefloor/Leave me the fuck alone for awhile/'Til that diseased dick of Johnny's is inside of me/I've got no goddamn reason to smile/It's my motherfuckin party and I'll motherfuckin cry if I goddamn want to you stupid bitches/Cry if I fucking want to/Cry if I fucking want to/You twat, you would cry too if it fucking happened to you/Judy and Johnny just walked through the motherfuckin door/Like a queen bitch and her impotent king/Oh what a fuckin birthday surprise/Judy's given him a cock ring/It's my motherfuckin party and I'll motherfuckin cry if I goddamn want to you stupid bitches/Cry if I fuckin want to/Cry if I fuckin want to/You twat, you would cry too if it fuckin happened to you.

If Lesley Gore's not too busy, she should remake the song as a statement on how censorship in the sixties wasn't necessarily an impediment, more like a forced mechanism for creatively wholesome lyricism.

Posted
AuthorSmoking Barrel
CategoriesPop Rock, Rap