Last year I was having a conversation about music with a date over coffee. We were talking about new releases when we got on the topic of Iggy Azalea. My date said:
“I think all my friends are going through an Iggy Azalea phase right now.”
Those words stuck in my mind….probably because I was going through my own Iggy Azalea phase too.
Iggy’s album “The New Classic” sounded so fresh at the time, probably because a) her singing voice is unique, b) the writing and production are great, and more importantly c) she’s a white girl singing hip hop. Iggy must have taken a page out of Nile Rodgers’ book “Le Freak” (a must read). Nile says in his book (paraphrasing) “white people singing black music tends to be a winner.”
“Fancy (feat. Charlie XCX)” was the most popular cut from the album but what caught my attention even more was the track “100”.
What first struck me in 100 is the instrumental hook. I love that it consists of an acoustic guitar chopped and spliced using (I’m guessing here) Izotope’s Stutter Edit. It’s a novel use of a tool that is associated more with the EDM scene. Combining instrumentation and tools from different genres is a great way of creating something unique that will stand out.
Another great quality of this record is that the chorus is sung by a male. The song is about a relationship and a relationship has 2 people (usually!). So why not have the chorus sung by a male and the verses by a female (or vice versa). It adds a sense of realness to the song because you hear both sides of the story.
[NB: Another great example of this is the Rihanna / Eminem collaboration Like The Way You Lie]
Touching on the songwriting, I thought the use of phonetics was clever. Specifically, at 0:58 Iggy raps “In Spain wearing that Balmain, Lanvin, Givenchy”. The lack of ‘plosives (ie. t’s and p’s) and the smoothness in which those luxury brands are sung gives an added level of chicness to the line.
Another notable point in the song is the way Iggy changes up her inflections at 1:29 (“My money talk, it’s too bad for y’all”). It keeps the track interesting because it adds extra attitude to the song and marks out a new passage in the verse. It also avoids the pitfall where having the artist use the same emotional delivery through an entire passage can make it bland, especially in hip hop where there is less melody in the vocals.
Sad to say I’m no longer in my Iggy Azalea phase but the song (and in fact the album) has a special place in my “Epic Albums” playlist.