Iggy Azalea claps back with ‘In My Defense’… or does she?

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Bad Dreams Records, EMPIRE

The cover of Iggy Azalea’s second studio album, ‘In My Defense’.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

In 2006 at the age of 16, Australian rapper and model Iggy Azalea came to the United States with big dreams of taking over the music industry.

She began her rise to fame in September 2011 when she independently released her critically acclaimed debut mixtape, Ignorant Art, before signing to Grand Hustle Records and dropping her debut EP, Glory, in July 2012 followed by her second mixtape, TrapGold, in October of that year.

She later signed to Def Jam Recordings in early 2013, and after releasing three moderately successful singles, including the sleeper hit “Work”, Azalea exploded onto the mainstream music scene in February 2014 with the smash-hit single “Fancy” with English singer-songwriter Charli XCX. 

The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for seven consecutive weeks, becoming both Azalea and Charli’s first #1 single, and her debut album, The New Classic, arrived in April 2014, spawning the equally-successful single, “Black Widow” with English singer-songwriter and actress Rita Ora.

She promoted the record throughout the rest of 2014 on her debut headlining tour, The New Classic Tour, before reissuing it that November as Reclassified.

Everything seemed to be going well for Azalea, however, in the years following The New Classic, she would suffer a series of major setbacks that would severely impact the course of her career.

In May 2015, creative differences with her label resulted in the cancellation of her next tour, The Great Escape Tour, and in June 2016, she called off her engagement with former NBA star Nick Young after it was discovered that he had been cheating on her.

Originally planned for a summer 2016 release, her sophomore album, Digital Distortion, was subsequently delayed until the following year and eventually scrapped when she left Def Jam in November 2017, signing a deal with Island Records and announcing a new record called Surviving the Summer slated for release in 2018.

In June 2018, Azalea announced that the album would instead be released as an EP, re-titled Survive the Summer, which was released that August after several delays and spawned the moderately successful single, “Kream” with American rapper and television personality Tyga. 

She was also set to embark on a new tour, the Bad Girls Tour, later that fall, but it was canceled due to financial issues, as her label was unable to pay for it.

Fed up with feeling like she had no control over her career, Azalea left Island in November 2018 to become an independent artist, and finally free of label restrictions, managed to release her long-awaited second studio album, In My Defense, in mid-July.

An audacious comeback, In My Defense ditches the EDM and electro pop influences of The New Classic in favor of a more true hip-hop and trap sound and predominantly features production from American producer J. White Did It, who acted as executive producer alongside Azalea.

The album was preceded by two successful singles, “Sally Walker” and “Started”, and marketed as the comebacks of all comebacks, but was it?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m Team Iggy all the way, but In My Defense did not live up to its hype. While a few tracks address her haters and career setbacks, like “Thanks I Get” and “Clap Back”, most of them are turn-up bops about being rich and throwing it back, like “Spend It” and the third single, “F**k It Up” with American rapper Kash Doll. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We love a sexually liberated woman who knows her worth, however, it’s not the album that we thought we were getting.

That’s not to say that In My Defense is a total flop, though. In fact, it’s far from it. Azalea makes it clear that she’s not to be messed with on “Thanks I Get”, opening the album on an aggressive note that continues on “Started” — a direct message to all of the people who doubted her as an artist, with Azalea establishing her dominance and reminding them that they have nothing to their name while she’s on top of the world.

She also showcases a freakier side of herself that was largely absent from her first record on tracks like the promotional single, “Just Wanna”, with X-Rated lyrics in line with the work of other female rappers who aren’t afraid to flaunt their sexuality, such as American rapper cupcakKe and American rapper and singer Megan Thee Stallion.

Despite In My Defense not packing the punch it was intended to, I’m still proud of Azalea for standing up for her artistry. All too often we see female musicians’ careers held back by label restraints. It’s happened time and time again from Britney Spears to Charli XCX, and Iggy Azalea wants to break that tradition, encouraging artists to challenge their labels and defend their creative freedom. 

In My Defense is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream In My Defense on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3kQvfhjfU6Mleis6k6vpmw?si=_k_rEmRpQCG26dg1n5ozJw 

Watch the music video for “Started”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flPCk8Z5XS0 

This article was revised in April 2020.