Iggy Azalea is one of hip hop’s most exciting new artists, as well as one of the genre’s most unexpected success stories. Her rise to prominence is notable not only for what seems like its immediacy, but for how infrequently someone like her makes it to the top. If you’re not keeping up to date on your rap culture or much into top 40 radio, you should know that she is not your typical hip hop star.
Just a few weeks ago, her album “The New Classic” became the highest charting debut album by a female rapper since Nicki Minaj back in 2010, starting at number three. The position is impressive considering she is a brand new name in this country, and she had only achieved her first top 40 hit a few weeks prior.
Making a name for yourself as a woman and hip hop is laudable enough, forget the fact that she is a white, blonde, Australian woman. In a genre dominated almost exclusively by African American men she sticks out like a statuesque thumb.
In fact, women are so few and far between in the field that the Grammys had to discard their separate category, which many genres had up for years. For a few years there was a Best Female Rap Solo Performance and one for men, but it was discontinued after only two trophies were given out (both to Missy Elliott). After that, both rap and rock only gave out one trophy, and almost always to a man.
In addition to her album’s success, just this past charting week she also became the first woman in hip hop to have two simultaneous hits in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100. Her single “Fancy (ft. Charli XCX)” has quickly risen the ranks to number three, and she is featured on the new Ariana Grande cut “Problem”, which debuted at the same ranking last week and is presently sitting at number four. It is rare for any artist to achieve such a feat, let alone a female rapper.
Iggy isn’t the first woman to find success in the genre, but she is the latest and currently the only one representing the gender on the charts. For the past several years, Nicki Minaj has been the prominent woman in hip hop, but it seems there has been a change. Not only has Minaj been oddly quiet for months, she has said she will no longer be releasing radio-ready pop/hip hop blends, instead going back to her pure rap roots, leaving a void to be filled by none other than Iggy.
While this is all happening very quickly for her in America, she has actually been honing her craft for a decade now, first rapping at the age of 14. In the ten years since, she has seen and been through all the trials and tribulations of the industry. While “Fancy” is her first real hit in the United States, she has been commercially successful in other parts of the world for years now. She has actually had four top 20 hits in the UK, and is just beginning the promotion of “The New Classic”.
With so much buzz–and not to mention measurable success–Iggy Azalea is poised to be this year’s breakout music star.