Iggy Azalea's dynamic set shows she has the potential to be the world’s first real superstar female rapper
Towards the end of a short but dynamic set, Iggy Azalea blinked into the spotlights, gushing gratitude in a soft speaking voice: “London, seeing all your beautiful faces, it’s an amazing end to an awful week.”
The Australian rapper has had a bit of a rough ride these past few days, filing a law suit in LA to stop an ex-boyfriend releasing an alleged sex tape backed by her own early demos. It may not have been the ideal circumstances in which to prepare for her first solo headline date since her astonishingly rapid rise to stardom this year. But perhaps it was just what the doctor ordered to blow all the negativity out of her system. Certainly, before we could get too misty eyed, Azalea was back on her high heeled boots, stalking the stage in a high cut geometric mini dress, aggressively proclaiming her invulnerability over deep electro bass and drum machine driven tracks with staccato hooks concocted from repeated samples of words like “pussy” and “bitch.”
With a personal retinue of pole dancers pulling erotic poses in swimsuits amid flashing coloured lights and blasts of dry ice, whilst the blonde and beautiful star wiggled her derriere and demanded we pay our respects, Azalea didn’t exactly come across as a shrinking violet.
Azalea has the potential to be the world’s first real superstar female rapper, eclipsing the claims of more obviously accomplished talents like Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot and Nicki Minaj. Criticism has been levelled that her advantage lies in her skin colour, giving her the Elvis and Eminem factor, and it may be disappointingly true that race still plays a never completely acknowledged role in popular culture, in terms of access, promotion and reception. But she is also Australian (given name Amethyst Kelly), an outsider in hip hop terms, a perspective that has allowed her to synthesise different genre aspects, compressing bits of the best of everything into a hugely accessible pop format. She has put some effort into overcoming the flatness of so much live hip hop, with stairs and screens, posing dancers and backing singers, blasts of confetti and bubbles all adding visual and sonic elements to what is essentially just a DJ playing pre-recorded tracks whilst someone talks fast over the top.
There is a welcome change in tone when British R’n’B starlet Rita Ora appears to deliver the powerhouse chorus to Black Widow, introducing real musicality and melodicism to the sparse electro rhythms.
The strip club ambience may pander to a notoriously sexist genre but Azalea’s sudden elevation after years of struggle has been on the back of some monster hit singles, and they get a suitably boisterous reception from a young and predominantly female crowd. A singalong usually represents the most communal and heart stirring moment of any live performance but a rap-along has a power of its own, as the self-assertive lyrics to Fancy are shouted out by 2000 people in unison. This was a genuinely entertaining evening of Iggy pop, with a sprinkling of Iggy stardust. Ms Azalea’s ascent to superstardom seems assured.
Out in London today:
pics sources 1 & 2
She also previewed a new Charli XCX collaboration just like she announced a while ago to celebrate Fancy's success, prob won't be a single though: