Iggy Azalea speaks. While gearing up to release her sophomore album Digital Distortion, the Australian rapper spoke with Elle Canada for a cover story about a wide-range of topics, from plastic surgery to her hip-hop credentials being questioned.
“Certain people who don’t like me think that I don’t love rap music, but I love rap music,” the “Fancy” hitmaker, who dons a plunging neckline on the cover, explained. “I love it like it’s my fucking husband…. I think a lot of people in hip-hop have a tough time finding something in common with me. At least white [and black] male rappers both have dicks and they’re American. But for me, I’m a white woman from Australia. I get it, but I think we have a lot more in common than they think.”
Iggy promises that the follow-up to her 2014 debut The New Classic will address some of her critics, too.
“The album has a bit of an electronic, digital influence, so the name fits sonically, but then, of course, topically, we all know the different things that were said about me in 2015,” she explained. “Some of them were fair and some of them, I think, were unfair. I just think it’s interesting that we live in this age of digital distortion where we’re all distorting each other and distorting ourselves and our perception of who we all are, and none of it is really accurate anymore.”
Read more highlights from Iggy’s Elle Canada interview below.
On social media: “I’m back. But this time I’ve given myself some rules so I don’t get too sucked in again. For me, what happened, not just on social media but with everything in my career, was like a whirlwind. I started to feel like I was losing control over my own life. And it wasn’t just how people began perceiving me or the stories that were written about me—it was everything. I just felt like I had lost control of the whole thing to the point where it was like being on this rocket and then suddenly realizing you aren’t even driving it anymore. It was really scary. I even think back to the Papa John’s incident and ask myself ‘Why did that piss you off so much?’ I see now that it spiralled into something so quickly because I felt like I didn’t have any power over my own life. At that point, I needed to take some time, step away and just get that control back.”
On Q-Tip: “So many people think that I don’t care about rap music and the community, but I absolutely care about it, to the core of my being. That’s why the Q-Tip incident annoyed me so much: Why do you think I need a history lesson? Because surely if I did know anything about hip-hop, I wouldn’t mix pop and rap together? Or I wouldn’t rap in an American accent if I truly understood? I just have a different perspective about rap music. I love learning about hip-hop, I love reading about it, and I actually love having debates with other people about it.”
On her rap accent: “Do you not like me because I rap with an American accent and I’m not American? Well, that’s valid on some level because that’s your opinion and I can’t change that. But I’m not trying to sound black—I just grew up in a country where on TV and in music and film, everyone was American or any Australian person in them put on an American accent. So I never saw it as strange at all. And I think it’s hard for Americans to understand this because, when you look at the entertainment industry, American culture is the dominating culture across the globe. A lot of people say ‘Imagine if someone rapped with a fake Australian accent.’ Well, okay, but you don’t turn on the TV and hear American people with fake Australian accents, so I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. I grew up watching Nicole Kidman speaking with an American accent in every movie. Even Keith Urban sings with an American country accent. And that’s just what you have to do to make it in this industry and be accepted. It’s what I heard and it’s what I saw, so how can you not understand that that would be influential for me?”
On American race relations: “It’s black culture and black music, so it becomes a racial conversation—versus Keith Urban, who is making country music, which is considered white. It becomes a very muddy area. And it became especially difficult in 2015. The United States has such a fraught history with race, and I don’t think I realized how prevalent racism still is and how hurt people still are until I moved here and saw it for myself. As I was growing up in Australia, it was easy to think ‘Well, that was then and obviously it’s not like that now.’ It’s not something you can understand when you’re on the other side of the world. But many people think I still live in that bubble and that I don’t understand that the United States is set up in a way that doesn’t benefit minorities. I’ve lived here for 10 years now, and I don’t want it to be that way either. I’m marrying a black man, and my children will be half black—of course I care about these things. And I understand if you’re not comfortable that I rap with an American accent, and you are totally entitled to your own opinions, but you don’t have to listen to my music. I’m still going to keep making music.”
On 2015: “If I could, I would Men in Black memory-erase 2015, I totally would—that would be amazing! Oh, God, there are so many things. I think the Azealia Banks thing is what really started it all. We don’t like each other on a personal level, and that has gone on for many years—before the Black Lives Matter incident happened. So when I dismissed her, people started to think that I dismissed the whole movement, but I wasn’t trying to dismiss Black Lives Matter—I was trying to dismiss her because it’s our personal shit. I don’t think the subject matter of her tweet was invalid; I just think it was emotionally charged and driven by something else, and the whole thing got so misconstrued. I just wish I had acknowledged the issue head-on because it made people think I don’t care about what’s going on socially and what’s happening in America, and I do care. Even though I still hate Azealia Banks, I wish I had said it in a way that didn’t make people think I was oblivious to the movement. And I wish I hadn’t gotten into a fight with Papa John’s!”
On childhood hip-hop memories: “I was probably 13 or 14 years old. It fit with my teen angst at the time. I was totally obsessed with Tupac, but I also remember listening to Missy Elliott and OutKast. To be honest, sometimes I didn’t really know what anyone was talking about because I’m not from where they were from. But you didn’t have to understand every word to love a song. I was in China recently and our tour guide said that he loves rap music. When I asked him why, he said: ‘I just like the way it feels to say the words. Even though I don’t know what the words might mean, I like the way it feels to say them.’ And I can totally understand that. As a kid in Australia, I didn’t understand a lot of rap music either because I was too young or I didn’t get the context. But I knew that it made me feel good.”
On plastic surgery: “I think, in 2016, people should be more accepting of the fact that both famous and non-famous women are having cosmetic procedures. That’s just the reality. And I think more people need to admit that shit so it doesn’t have to be so taboo—because we’re all doing it anyway…I wanted to change my nose because I didn’t grow up with a bump on it—that happened when I got smashed in the face with a soccer ball when I was 16. Now I feel like my nose looks the way it’s supposed to look. But for how long do we have to acknowledge that I got a nose job? For the rest of my life? Am I going to be 45 and people are still saying ‘Nice nose job’?”