Believe Iggy Azalea when you hear the saying, “There’s no place like home.” The 21-year-old, Australian rapper with model-like looks recently signed onto Interscope and is now under the wing of legendary music mogul, Jimmy Iovine and more recently, is the newest signee of T.I’s Grand Hustle label. She left behind her family and moved to Miami at the age of 16, citing her outsider-like discomfort in living in her own hometown. Ever since, she’s moved from city-to-city, lived in new homes and met new faces along the way. It’s hard for the emcee with the high-standing, long blonde ponytail –almost unrecognizable without it– to find comfort with her newfound fame because when you’re signed to one of the biggest labels in the world, scheduling and travelling becomes number-one priority and there seems to be no sense of comfort. Often missing her group of supporters, ie. family and friends, Iggy has been able to adapt slowly to the new lifestyle, which includes shows, studio sessions and meetings. And oh yeah, photo shoots.
Iggy –real name Amethyst– was selected to appear on XXL’s Freshmen cover issue, something the small-town Australian girl used to dream of back in her pre-America days. She made history being the fist female to appear on the cover, something notable since she’s pulled off a career in a male-dominated industry. However, that didn’t come without backlash. Just like every year when the selections are made, criticism from the fans, artists and media come out and she wasn’t exempt from that.
Not letting it bother her and moving on from the negativity, the rapper –who caught the attention of the fans, media, and blogs through her viral hits, PU$$Y and My World– and her gang of “Azaleans” are continuing to make moves, working alongside boss man, T.I, on her upcoming debut album, The New Classic, set for a summer release. T.I will be executive producing the forthcoming debut, which will contain a variety of up-tempos, relationship-influenced songs and definitely a lot of shit-talking. She’s never one to shy away from that, feeling comfortable with whatever she spits into the mic. At least that’s one thing she feels comfortable in, alongside her second family of Grand Hustle-ees. Come this summer, it will be Iggy’s turn as she’ll be the one showing her critics some “tough love.”
So first off, congratulations on making the XXL cover!
You also made history by being the first female on the list. So do you think that makes your XXL cover appearance much more meaningful?
Of course. I think it definitely makes it more meaningful and it’s extra, double-ly cool that it was the people’s choice. The fans voted me and I think it’s so awesome to see people being able to have a voice and say, “Hey, we do want to hear females.” If they hadn’t had that opportunity, it would still be all men on that cover. I think it’s really cool.
And you got the support of the Azaleans. Is that what you call them?
Yep! That’s what I call ‘em.
Also, every year when the freshmen get chosen, there’s always haters, some of whom have taken their shots at you. How do you deal or respond to that negative vibe?
I don’t think it should be that big of a surprise that I’m on the cover because there was a big list of nominees and I was on it. If you were participating, then you would’ve known I was on the list and second of all, you would’ve voted for who you wanted. I think there was an overwhelming amount of people who had their opinions but didn’t participate when they had the opportunity in picking who they wanted to see. Like if they went out and supported who they like, then you would’ve seen more of them.
Does the negativity affect you in the slightest way?
Not really. The thing about it is that the more people that hate you, the more people that love you, too. I’m used to people that dislike me and the great thing about fans is that you don’t have to fight that battle anymore. They do it for you. [laughs]
In your early years, back in Australia, you would put in special orders for issues of XXL. Now that you’re on the cover, does it feel weird?
It feels fucking awesome. I’m going back to Australia next week and I used to have this big door in my bedroom and in the back of it, that would be the only place I could put posters. My mom wouldn’t let me stick posters on her wall. She would’ve had a heart attack. She did let me stick them on the back of my door and I would always have the XXL covers on there and she to this day –even though she re-painted my room and it’s long gone– always kept that door with all my posters because she says it’s sentimental. I want to go home and be able to put that cover up on that door. I think that’s really cool. I always hoped I could be up there with the best of them but to actually be there and see a physical representation of it, it’s really great.
Are you going to Australia to perform or visit?
No, I just have to go get my visa put in my passport. Then I’ll be out there for a few days and have a little quiet trip back to my little town and see my family then come back here and get to work.
What about the kids that you hated back in high school? Are you going to visit them?
[laughs] No. Most of them sent me Facebook messages but I deleted my Facebook.
I noticed that. I want to go back to the cover. Can you talk a little bit about the outfit that you wore? What did you think of it?
I loved it. I picked it. Everybody else had their stylist or whoever XXL had. I brought my stylist from LA out with me and we went around and picked a few options. I changed a lot that day –more than the boys. You’ll see once the freestyle comes out. The boys changed like five and I changed like six times. I was having a diva moment. I brought seven suitcases of shit with me because I just felt like, “Hey, you only have boys on your XXL. I don’t know…” I’m keeping my stylist with me. I don’t want to end up in a lettermen’s jacket on the cover.
You were holding a weapon though.
I was holding a weapon! I know! I had a big ax. I thought that was cool though. But the dress I was wearing was Shakuhachi. That’s an Australian designer so I kept it.
Speaking of fashion, you said you would go on Dr. Jays and browse through their products wishing you had the money to buy the stuff that was on there. So after you signed your record deal, what’s the first big purchase that you made?
I actually don’t even have a check from my record deal yet! [laughs] But, I do have show money and I do have T.I and he’s like my brother so he makes sure I have whatever I possibly need. The first big purchase that I made was a Rolex Presidential. I bought it as a gift for somebody. The first thing I bought for myself was a pair of Versace triple platform pumps because I used to work for those shoes when they came out in 2009 and I wanted them so bad. I saved every picture of them and I was like this is so out of my reach. They were like $2,000 and I could never afford them. I bought them for All-Star Weekend. I was like, fuck it, I went in there and I bought it.
So what’s your style like?
I like bright things. I like colour and prints. I don’t know. I just like stuff that makes me feel super fun and bright. I like bold, I like classic cuts but I also like bolder prints and colours. I want it to be fun because you don’t want to make it look like you’re in the country club. I just like traditional tailoring. I think it’s the most flattering to a women’s form.
Do you have any fashion inspirations?
I like Grace Kelly. She’s classic. But you know who else I like? I like the Nanny named Fran.
The Nanny named Fran! You don’t know that show? You never watched that?
Oh my god! I watched it all the time as a kid and she wears these terrible outfits all the time. It’s completely New Jersey. That’s how I would describe it. It would be like a red suit with leopard-skin pumps. She has all these outfits that are totally tacky and I just like to mix tacky with classy. [laughs] I don’t know. I just thinks it works well and the Nanny named Fran is the tackiest bitch ever and Grace Kelly is the most classic beauty ever and I like mixing them together at the same time.
I’ve never heard of that! I’ll definitely Google search that. But staying with inspirations, one of your idols was Tupac, right?
How did you react when you found out he was dead? (She was 6-years-old the time of his death)
When I started liking him and knew he was dead, I was sad. I used to think he was still alive. But I don’t know, I was watching this movie the other day and it was saying how people always romanticized the past and eras that you can’t be in. Sort of like the grass is greener-type thing. I just to think things and wonder if he was still alive, what he would’ve done, I wish I were 21 when he was alive, I wish I could live in the 90s. I wish I could’ve met him and I know a bunch of people who know him. Jimmy (Iovine) is one of them. He seems so cool and I think I wish I had met him and you always wonder what if. I really thought he was alive. I was like, “Seven-day theory…he’s alive!” [laughs] Then a year later, that’s when it started making no sense to me and now I think it’s the 14-day theory. There are still people that still hold onto the fact that he’s alive, but he’s not.
It’s so sad and even now, I think people take it the wrong way when Jimmy says I’m like Tupac. He didn’t mean his music or anything; he just thinks I could have a legacy or following of people that would be down for you. He didn’t really mean to compare me to him as an artist or person in a literal sense. He just got crucified. I think about it with Madonna, too. Some days when I feel bad about people disliking what I’m doing and have a problem with it, like the XXL day was one of those days even though it should’ve been a celebration. I was getting hammered by the press and whenever I have bad days, I think about Madonna and Tupac. I think about how many people dislike their stuff even though they’re so brilliant.
With Madonna, I was watching this documentary and she was on tour and people were protesting saying Madonna can’t do a show here, or she can’t do a show since she’ll go to jail –crazy shit like that. She was like, “Fuck that,” I’m doing the show. Or when everyone was protesting against Thug Life and when Tupac went to jail, or when they said he did that stuff to the girl or when they were dumping his CD’s and stuff saying what he was doing was a negative thing. I think it was a positive thing. A lot of great artists go through that shit and hopefully I can be a great artist. I would love to be one, but it does make me feel better knowing that the great ones have that kind of stuff surrounding them, so it makes me feel a lot better about it.
You also made comments about the death of Whitney Houston recently, talking about how lonely it can sometimes get as an entertainer. I’m not talking about her specifically, but from your experience, do you feel like being an entertainer makes your life lonely and depressing at times?
Yeah, I do. It is lonely because you’re always travelling, you start to feel like –I said it to somebody today, actually. I said you just have to try and find people that you can work with and make it feel like home because you can’t take home with you. You can’t take all the people you wish you could take with you all the time and it becomes separation and you miss calls or you don’t call back because you’re tired and before you know it, it’s been weeks. I just realized on the plane on the way back to LA last night that holy shit, my dad emailed me two months ago asking to please call and I totally forgot. Right now, it’s hard and you forget and you find yourself isolated when you don’t make an effort like you should. When the bad stuff happens, you’re like, “Hold up. Where the fuck are all my people at?”
But you try and bring some of your friends, entourage and label mates with you. Doesn’t that help?
Yeah. That’s why I said to my friend that you have to find people that make it feel like home and feel like a family because that’s the only way you won’t feel so isolated. That’s why I’m with people like T.I. He’s like family. That’s why I picked him because he’s like family and when you’re isolated, you have to pick your family. I know have a second family of music people –like a little circus family. Since I met T.I and started working with him on Grand Hustle, I feel way less alone. I don’t feel alone all the time, but there are some days where if you have a bad day, it can hit you hard. Every since I had T.I, even when I do have the bad days, I feel like I always have them around. They keep me company. They’re like, “Don’t worry. Let’s go eat fucking Ruth’s Chris.” You just forget about it and I feel really secure with T.I.P and Grand Hustle.
Do you guys really eat at Ruth’s Chris all the time?
A lot of the time, yeah!
T.I calls you the “Iggamonster,” right? Is that your new nickname?
[laughs] Kind of, yeah. People give me nicknames. He calls me Iggamonster. People in the studio call me Iggster or Iggs. I don’t know why people give me nicknames, but they do.
So why choose T.I as the executive producer of your next album?
Originally, I picked him as that because I felt that was the biggest role I would be allowed to give him or the biggest that Interscope would allow him to have. Also, I didn’t want to commit to something with him for more than one album because we haven’t worked together yet, but obviously that changed. Now I’m a part of Grand Hustle forever, I hope. We started working together and hanging out. I feel confident about this thing now and hopefully it’s more than one album. He’s a legend. He’s had so many albums and is one of my favourite rappers. I would watch him on TV and every year when it’s Christmas, he would have this YouTube video where he’s like [imitates T.I’s voice], “Merry Christmas!” He has such an Atlanta accent and every year, my sister calls me on Christmas and she’s like [again in a T.I-impersonated voice], “Merry Christmas!” Now that I’m working with him, I said he has to give me a Christmas card with a recorder and he has to say Merry Christmas in it. [laughs] He’s a living legend, so when he reached out to meet me, he wasn’t sure how he could be a part of it or give me advice, but respected what I was doing. I asked him what he thought about executive producing. I love everyone there. I wish I could be with them every single day.
What’s the meaning behind the album title, The New Classic?
To me, I think great music stamps time. When I think of all my favourite songs, I think about where I heard them or a memory to go along with the song. My friend was in the car with me the other day and when a Rihanna song came on, she’s like, “I can’t listen to that song because the last time I heard it, I was in the car and I was going to kill my boyfriend because I thought he was cheating. If I listen to it, I’m going to be mad at him right now!” That was like two years ago and it’s a testament saying great music stamps time. It can bring you back to the exact place of where you heard it and make you feel like you’re in the moment again. Sort of like a little time capsule. To me, I think when music stamps time, that’s when the music is classic. When you can have a moment in life attached to the song, you can’t help it. I want to make an album with songs that are classic and can stamp time for people.
With the new album, is there a storyline or theme to it?
Not so much. It’s just me kind of talking shit, [laughs] talking about myself. You know, it’s girl stuff. Some of it is shit talking. Some of it is about relationships. I have a song I did the other day that I kind of like and it was talking about how home is wherever you want it to be and I think a lot of people say I can’t act the way I act because I’m from Australia and I should be “Australian.” Sometimes you don’t fit and there’s more personal stuff in the album. There’s also shit-talking. My single is a lot of shit talking. I think music should be a balance of serious stuff and fun stuff. Life should be that. I think my mixtape should be pretty fun and sentimental. I don’t want to go into this crazy, serious album. I think people think of the word “classic” and thinks it has to sound like Jay-Z or Nas. That’s classic, too, but there’s other things that can be classic and stamp time. I also remember the fun stuff, too. Music doesn’t have to be so serious and I have a lot of up-tempo records in there. I’ve been working on the up-tempo records first because those are my favourite things to do.