Iggy Azalea Biography
In 2012, Azalea became the first female, non-American rapper to be featured on XXL magaize's annual "Top 10 Freshman" cover issue. On 30 July 2012, she released Glory, her debut extended play (EP), which was executive produced by Grand Hustle label-boss and American rapper T.I.. On 11 October 2012, she released her second mixtape TrapGold, which was produced entirely by high-profile producer Diplo and 1st Down of production team FKi. The mixtape is significant for foreshadowing Azalea's new approach to music and her later work, which heavily includes electronic elements.
Azalea's debut studio album The New Classic, is set to be released in September 2013. Initially set to be released with Grand Hustle and Interscope Records, after several delays and label conflicts, in 2012 Azalea finally secured a deal with Mercury Records and later Island Def Jam, to release her debut album. The album was preceded by the lead single and Azalea's commercial debut single "Work", which successfully charted on several international music charts and peaked at No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart. The other two singles that supported the album were "Bounce", and "Change Your Life", the latter of which features a guest appearance from T.I..
Iggy Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, in Sydney, Australia. Her family later relocated to Mullumbimby, New South Wales when she was still an infant, into a house on 12 acres that her father built by hand from mudbricks. Her father was a painter and comics artist, while her mother cleaned holiday houses and hotels. Azalea says her father "made her look at [art] as a teenager", which has always influenced her life and work.
Azalea began rapping at age 14. Before embarking on a solo career, Azalea formed a group with two other girls from her neighborhood: "I was like, I could be the rapper. This could be like TLC. I’ll be Left Eye." Azalea eventually decided to disband the group because the other girls weren't taking it seriously: "I take everything I do serious. I’m too competitive."
In pursuit of her desire of moving to America, Azalea dropped out of high school; instead choosing to work and save the money she earned by cleaning hotel rooms and holiday houses with her mother. She claims to have hated school, which besides her art class, only made her miserable. She also says she had no friends and was teased for her weird homemade outfits. Azalea traveled to the United States in 2006, right before she turned 16. She told her parents she was going "on a holiday" with a friend, but eventually decided to stay and shortly after told them she was not coming back home: "I was drawn to America because I felt like an outsider in my own country, I was in love with hip hop, and America is the birthplace of that, so I figured the closer I was to the music, the happier I'd be. I was right." She recalled: "My mom was crying, saying, 'Just be safe.' I was thinking, 'I'm going by myself. I'm fucking crazy!".
After her arrival in America, she resided in the U.S. on a visa waiver for six years, leaving the country every three months to renew it. She is currently in the country on a five-year O visa, having previously earned money illegally.
2010–11: Moving to America and career beginnings
When she first came to the United States, she stayed in Miami, Florida, and after a brief stint in Houston, Texas, Azalea settled for a few years in Atlanta, Georgia, working with a member of the Dungeon Family named Backbone. She says folks would laugh at her because "they thought my raps sucked." But having grown up getting laughed at, she was able to shrug it off. Meanwhile, she'd met a guy from Interscope Records who kept encouraging her to move to Los Angeles, and so in the summer of 2010, she decided to do so. She was briefly managed by Interscope. In 2011, Azalea began uploading a number of videos featuring her freestyling on YouTube, that subsequently went viral. Azalea's career began to flourish when her first official music video, for a song titled "Pu$$y", was uploaded on her YouTube channel.
On 27 September 2011, Azalea released her first full-length project, a mixtape titled Ignorant Art, saying she made it "with the intent to make people question and redefine old ideals". Her song "Pu$$y", was included on the mixtape and features guest appearances from YG, Joe Moses, Chevy Jones and Problem. In November 2011, she released a music video for her song "My World", directed by Alex/2tone. The video features a cameo appearance from character actor and former wrestler Tiny Lister, which earned her more attention due to its rising popularity online. "It’s supposed to have like, all the ridiculousness of a big-budget ’90s video, but then chopped and screwed," said Azalea, of the video.
In December 2011, Azalea revealed she would release her debut studio album, entitled The New Classic, as soon as she signed a major record label deal: "once that's sorted out and I establish an over all sound and direction for the album I will be able to know what artists would make for a dynamic collaboration". On 11 January 2012, Azalea released the music video for "The Last Song", her third video from Ignorant Art. In an interview with Billboard, released on 27 January, Azalea hinted at an Interscope Records signing, while also revealing hopes of releasing The New Classic in June, and for her debut single to precede it in March.
2012: Label issues and Glory
Iggy Azalea reached out to Southern rapper T.I., for the direction of her debut album. The Atlanta rapper was set to executive produce The New Classic, soon after a phone call the two had. At the time, Azalea was eyeing a summer release for her debut, The New Classic: "Hopefully if all goes to plan, my album will be out in June and I’ll have it recorded by the end of the month." However, after Interscope did not allow T.I. to be an on-going part of her deal, Azalea opted not to sign with the major label and stay independently signed to Grand Hustle Records until the release of her first album, which had then been postponed.
In early 2012, Azalea was featured on the cover of XXL, as part of its annual "Top 10 Freshmen List", along with fellow up-and-coming rappers French Montana, MGK, Danny Brown, Hopsin, and Roscoe Dash. On 1 March 2012, T.I. announced he signed Azalea to Grand Hustle Records along with rappers Chip and Trae tha Truth. On 26 March 2012, Azalea posted "Murda Bizness", the intended lead single for The New Classic, on her YouTube account. The song was produced by Bei Maejor and features her Grand Hustle label-boss T.I..
In April 2012, via her Twitter feed, Azalea announced plans to release an EP entitled Glory later in May: "May = glory. The EP. #GLORY," tweeted Azalea. "I’m just onto something right now, the last two weeks and it’s glory. Azaleans need something new." Also in April, Azalea starred alongside Grammy-nominated producer Diplo and FKi in the world's first fully interactive 'shoppable' music video for Canadian fashion retailer, SSENSE. In May 2012, it was confirmed by T.I., on MTV's HipHopPov, that Azalea had not yet secured distribution for her deal with Grand Hustle Records, and was described by T.I. as a "free agent". It was later revealed in the interview that she is in negotiations with labels other than Interscope and possibly Def Jam (wherein Bu Thiam, whom of which originally placed a bid to sign her is VP of A&R). Azalea was also featured on Steve Aoki and Angger Dimas' collaborative electronic track "Beat Down," which was released on 31 May 2012.
In June 2012, it was announced Azalea signed with Wilhelmina Models International Inc., a prominent model and celebrity agency in the fashion industry, boasting notable entertainers such as Fergie, Estelle, and Natasha Bedingfield. Azalea released "Millionaire Misfits", the second offering from her EP Glory, the first being "Murda Bizness", on 24 June 2012. On 21 July, the official music video for "Murda Buziness" was released online. Glory, Azalea's debut EP, although not released in May, as it was originally scheduled, was released 30 July 2012.
In September 2012, Levi's announced Iggy Azalea as the face of their new "Go Forth" campaign. Azalea was also one of the acts on MTV's 2012 'Closer To My Dreams Tour', along with Tyga and Kirko Bangz. Azalea also appeared in House of Holland's first eyewear collection campaign.
On 28 September 2012, Azalea announced she would be releasing her second mixtape on 11 October 2012. Titling it TrapGold, the mixtape was produced entirely by Diplo and FKi. She later premiered teaser visuals for the track "Bac 2 Tha Future (My Time)". On 9 October 2012, Azalea made her US national television debut, appearing alongside T.I., B.o.B and other Grand Hustle artists in a cypher, at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards. Later that month, she embarked on yet another North American mini-concert tour with Roc Nation singer-songwriter Rita Ora, on the MTV Presents The ORA Tour. Azalea then headlined a tour in Europe to support TrapGold. On 16 December 2012, Azalea performed live alongside Natasha Bedingfield and Bootsy Collins, covering Deee-Lite's 1990 hit disco song "Groove Is in the Heart", on the annual television show VH1 Divas.
2013-present: The New Classic
In January and February 2013, while working on her upcoming singles and The New Classic, which was announced to be released in the summer, Azalea was the opening act for Rita Ora's Radioactive Tour, in the United Kingdom. As part of her set for Ora's Radioactive Tour, Azalea premiered "Work", the lead single from her debut studio album. The single premiered on BBC Radio 1Xtra on 11 February 2013. On 13 February 2013, it was announced Azalea had signed a record deal with Mercury Records. The music video for her commercial debut single "Work", was directed by Jonas & François and released 13 March 2013. In March 2013, Azalea also joined renowned East Coast rapper Nas, on the European leg of his 'Life Is Good Tour'.
On 15 April 2013, VEVO announced Azalea as its second LIFT artist of 2013 and that she would film live festival performances, fashion and style pieces and behind-the-scenes interviews as part of the eight-week-long campaign. It was also revealed that the music video for her second single "Bounce", would premiere on VEVO at the end of the month.
On 16 March 2013, it was announced that Azalea would perform in the beneficent concert "Chime for Change", scheduled to take place on 1 June in London, alongside Beyoncé, John Legend and others. On 23 April 2013, Azalea announced that she had signed a solo record deal with Island Def Jam.
On 26 April 2013, Azalea's second European single "Bounce", premiered on BBC Radio 1. Azalea then revealed, that the second American and third international single taken from her debut album would be entitled "Change Your Life", and features T.I.. She also mentioned she would be singing for the first time on the record. She also confirmed that she is not signed to Grand Hustle Records, however heavily affiliated with the label.
On 25 May 2013, Azalea as part of Radio 1's Big Weekend in Derry, performed an acclaimed carnival themed set on the In New Music We Trust stage. The setlist contained songs from previous EP's and album material such as "Bounce" and "Work". The show was the start of a short set of UK pre-album promotional appearances. In June 2013, Azalea confirmed that the album was nearly finished and that it's slated for release in September 2013.
On 29 July 2013, Azalea revealed she will be opening for Beyoncé on the 17-date Australasia leg of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in October and November. The third single from The New Classic, titled "Change Your Life", was premiered by BBC Radio 1Xtra’s MistaJam, on August 19, 2013.