Review Summary: The New Average
“I remember when I wasn’t this big”. There comes a point in an artist’s career, whether it be at the beginning or somewhere in the middle where they have to decide what path they’re going to follow- commercialism, a search for money & fame or a more underground approach, less of a product and more about artistry. Rap has never really been consumed in the same way Pop music has nor has it been considered to be in the same echelon as Pop in terms of commercial appeal despite various success stories, sure the ratio of successful Rap artists to Pop artists in the mainstream is completely in the latter’s favour but it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been successes in the past. Somewhere along the line, someone decided to mix the two together, with some successful artists in the more recent years (for example Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.) and now Iggy Azalea. Iggy has come to take the throne and it isn’t a throne that’s necessarily being watched. Pop-Rap isn’t exactly a genre praised by the critics for breaking down the walls of music and being a true torchbearer of the two, hell some wouldn’t even consider it a real combination, let alone genre. The New Classic is a brash attempt of changing that, an attempt of creating an album that straddles the line in a manner that appeals to the fans of the Top 40’s (ala ‘bangers’) and more Rap/Hip-Hop minded individuals (flow, beats, lyricism and so forth). So how does she fare"
In a sense The New Classic is a mild success from the word go due to the production, which is a mutant fusion (in a similar vein to Charli XCX’s True Romance) between sugary sweet and gutter punching glitter trap with pop sensibilities sprinkled on top, there isn’t a point on this album where the ‘Pop’ hand of Midas hasn’t touched. A prime example of this would be the lead single ‘Fancy’, cascading synths that repeat to a bombastic rhythm, leading to a simple yet catchy song, the song that follows is another example. ‘New B*tch’ features glistening boom-baps with a rave inspired backdrop, it’s like this consistently throughout. Most the songs are bolstered by production (Work, F*ck Love, Don’t Need Y’all. Black Widow, Goddess) while some are completely left in ruin and undermined (Change Your Life, Rolex, Bounce, Impossible is Nothing) which considering the album’s length is a problem. The overly-relaxed synths of ‘Rolex’ fail to match the subject matter of the song itself and the hyper-active, overly bombastic synth and bass line of ‘Bounce’ is enough to give anyone a headache. For the most part the bangers bang but the singles can be irritating and a tad too clichéd.
While the production is notably the best point of The New Classic, Iggy’s charisma is a high point too. She demands the listener’s attention on every track, spitting rhymes in a bold manner, her confidence is unmatchable, at least so it seems. On the other hand, her confidence and stellar production isn’t enough to save the album, the biggest crimes committed on this album are her lyricism and inconsistent song quality, overall her lyricism is weak, and tame which is surprising considering her flow and confidence. Moreover the content of the songs are lacklustre, simply nothing we haven’t heard before from a pop artists perspective, love, money & fame all litter The New Classic and it’s presented in a way that is spoon fed, unimaginative and downright tedious. Part of a rapper’s arsenal is the ability to write and spit rhymes well, which Iggy just fails to do and because it’s such a big part of the product she’s selling, it completely hinders the consistency and flow of the album. Some from to song changes are completely jarring, polar opposite subject matter (i.e. vulnerability to grade A arrogance) is bewildering. It makes the album become a chore to listen to because as a listener you end up simply not caring about what she’s saying and one of the key ingredients (the artist herself) becomes background noise.
The New Classic begins with some momentum but it eventually loses steam throughout, the production generally manages to carry the burden, highlighting some diamonds in the rough but the potential of success and the ability to do better are held down by her. Iggy Azalea has attempted to fuse both Rap/Hip-hop and Pop but to no avail, essentially Iggy fails to hide the fatal flaw of The New Classic- Its split personality.