Iggy Azalea (born Amethyst Amelia Kelly) had a slew of achievements in the music industry. Her first studio album, The New Classic (2014), attained the highest slot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list.
She was featured on Ariana Grande’s single, “Problem,” in 2014, and recorded her own big-time smash tune, “Fancy,” before all but disappearing from the public eye.
Did she run into personal issues that sidelined her career or were professional problems the culprit? We took a deep dive into Azalea’s recent past and here’s what we found.
Fans Were Devastated When Azalea Announced Her Hiatus From Music In July 2021
On July 15, 2021, Azalea tweeted that she would be stepping away from music after dropping her album The End of an Era to focus on other creative projects. However, she later tweeted that she left to avoid the negativity surrounding the industry. People who loved her music were crestfallen when they heard the news.
Azalea’s album The End of an Era was released on August 13, 2021. For her fans, it probably seemed like an ironically fitting title.
Long-Standing Accusations Of Cultural Appropriation Played A Big Role In Her Decision To Step Away From Music
There were heated controversies that also seemed to figure into Azalea’s decision to at least temporarily walk away from her music career. She was first criticized for her engagement with issues of race in relation to her 2012 song, “D.R.U.G.S.”
One line in the song struck some people as inappropriate: “Tire marks, tire marks / Finish line with the fire marks / When the relay starts, I’m a runaway slave / Master.”
Azalea issued an apology that said in part, “In all fairness, it was a tacky and careless thing to say and if you are offended, I am sorry….I regret not thinking things through more.”
She denied being a racist. “I don’t hate any race of people, and it pains me to wake up to other young people being misled to believe I do. I am for unity and equality.” Azalea also explained that the line in her song was a riff on a lyric from a song by Kendrick Lamar that was worded similarly.
She’s Faced Criticism Inside And Outside The Music Industry
Still, Azalea’s contrite statement didn’t put the issue to rest. In 2014, fellow rapper Azealia Banks took Azalea to task for being silent about Black issues yet incorporating Black culture into her work. Banks had also criticized Azalea for her “D.R.U.G.S.” lyric.
Azalea fired back, tweeting, “Make sure you do something to let YOUR government know how you feel when something is unjust., not JUST your followers on twitter…” (via The Guardian).
Some think that Azalea’s musical style co-opts sonic Southern Blackness, especially through the way she changed her accent.
In a 2014 Salon article, Rutgers University professor Brittney Cooper declared, “I resent Iggy Azalea for her co-optation and appropriation of sonic Southern Blackness, particularly the sonic Blackness of Southern Black women.”
Jeff Guo, a former reporter for The Washington Post, felt that she dipped into Black culture and African-American English to enhance her popularity and her income. He cites the research of two linguists, Maeve Eberhardt and Kara Freeman, who seem to feel that Azalea has paid close attention to, or at least keenly observed, both subjects.
Still, Eberhardt noted, “The way that she’s taken this language and this culture wholesale and used it to fuel her fame and fortune is disrespectful.”
She Attracted Greater Pushback For Her “I Am The Stripclub” Video
Criticism ramped up further, particularly on Twitter, after the release of Azalea’s music video for “I Am The Stripclub,” when many accused her of trying to appear black with darker hair and (allegedly) darker skin.
Another negative tweet said, “Blackfish, That’s what she’s serving.”
Azalea had a sharp comeback for those who were denouncing her. She tweeted, “I can’t care about something that ridiculous and baseless. I’m wearing a shade 6 in armarni [sic] foundation, it’s the same shade I’ve worn for the last 3 years.”
Azalea Believes That Much Of The Criticism Against Her Stems From Sexism
Azalea pointed out that white men who create traditionally black music such as Eminem and Macklemore don’t get slammed for it like she does. She blamed sexism for being behind the derogatory comments she was getting.
As she told Vanity Fair, “Well, they don’t say that stuff about Macklemore. I think it has 100,000 percent to do with the fact that I have a vagina.”
Others think that those performers have done more to understand and appreciate black music and engage with racial issues. To them, she lacked reverence for Black culture and her pushback sounded hollow.
“It’s the difference between appropriating and appreciating: She does the former; the artists she cites all worked to do the latter,” intoned Derrick Clifton in Mic.
She was labeled “a rap poseur” and “the living embodiment of white privilege.” Her “blaccent” was derided. She has been accused of mimicry.
Her comeback was that women are often over-policed in rap and their talent is frequently dismissed. She has also defended herself because she said the Black artists she admires support her.
She said on Good Morning America, “I grew up loving Missy Elliot, loving Lil’ Kim or Trina and so I’m lucky I have those women I really idolized support me. So, I get a little bit confident in that, knowing the people I look up to appreciate what I’m doing.”
She Also Faced Drama In Her Personal Life
Eventually, even Azalea’s personal life began to go south. She started dating rapper Playboi Carti in late 2018, but they reportedly broke up in December 2019.
She had a son, Onyx, with Carti in June 2020. By October of the same year, she confirmed that she and Carti were no longer together and were co-parenting.
Azalea lashed out at Carti for not being present at their son’s birth and for refusing to sign Onyx’s birth certificate. “This man was in philly playing PS5 mid pandemic the day my son was born even tho it was a scheduled c section,” she fumed.
“I had onyx alone completely cause he was my only visitor approved with Covid. We lived together at that time.”
Azalea Announced Her Intention To Return To Music In August 2022
Now that a few years have passed since her various controversies and personal struggles, Azalea seems ready to resume her career. She wrote a sassy tweet to proclaim her comeback.
Azalea meant what she said, embarking on a 25-city tour called “Can’t Stop Us Now” with Pitbull in the summer of 2022. Sure looks like Azalea can’t be stopped!
Iggy Azalea has ardent fans and adamant detractors. People have made cogent arguments about her perceived appropriation of Black culture and African American English, along with her alleged lack of respect for both.
She, on the other hand, has retorted with arguments of her own, citing sexism along with the support she has received from some Black artists.
One thing is clear. People on both sides of these complex, multi-layered issues will have to decide how much, if at all, this influences their feelings about Azalea as a person and as a performer.
Azalea Faced Physical Obstacles After Back Surgery In November 2022
Shortly after her tour with Pitbull wrapped, the controversial rapper shocked her fans when she tweeted that she had been bedridden after back surgery that should have been routine.
The surgery was intended to correct an injury that was compounded by her touring schedule, but she faced complications in recovery. Not only was she unable to walk except to go to the bathroom (for three weeks!), but she also endured excruciating pain.
She was cleared to begin moving again a week prior to her tweet, and she had begun a daily in-home physical therapy program to restore her strength. Azalea has also been receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She hoped to be back to full health by Christmas. However, she admitted it was mentally challenging to lose her health so quickly.
Whatever you think of her approach to race, we can all agree on wishing her a full and speedy recovery.