note: no photos were allowed by Azalea’s management. SAD FACES ALL AROUND.
Historically, when hot girl has met haute couture in the realm of hip-hop culture, the result has been a sexed up party emanating from rap’s five boroughs of origination in New York City. However, we’re 40 years into this thing, so the idea that it’s time for evolution and for 23-year old Australian model-turned-emcee Iggy Azalea to have a turn at the top makes sense. If in attendance on Friday night at suburban DC’s Fillmore Silver Spring you got a glimpse into not just another female rapper, but yet another case in 2014 where hip-hop culture’s out-sized new expectations excite, inspire and provide intriguing new standards.
There’s two main rules at an Iggy Azalea concert. Accept that the future is now, and scream out loud. Both of these rules were easily followed by a room filled with easily over 80% in attendance being under the age of 21, and of that 80%, around half being under 18. Proof that this is a different time in the world? Barely teenage Caucasian females with hair extensions emulating Iggy Azalea’s iconic blonde ponytail yelling the following as the DJ opening the show dropped top-40 hits from the past 25 years, and they all screamed the following:
Surfboard, surfboard / Graining on that wood, graining, graining on that wood
Though these girls were too young to legally drink alcohol, they were totally okay with joining Beyonce in being “Drunk in Love.” They were also okay with other illicit activities like joining Big Sean in rolling their weed on as “ass-tray,” and were definitely cool with assenting to Kendrick Lamar’s “Fuckin’ Problem” of every bitch in the world “[wanting his] dick.” The best way to describe this concert would be that it was a ratchet version of every great teen movie of all time. Rated R for comedic, yet deplorably bad behavior, let’s call this show “Not Another Turnt Teen Movie.”
Azalea’s hour-long set featured copious amounts of content from her recently-released debut album The New Classic. Though critical reviews have been less than kind, the album is actually best as a live performance piece. Thus, the aforementioned teen romp comparison is apropos. Songs like funky EDM-styled bass-bin rattler “Bounce,” faux dancehall track “Lady Patra” and current single “Change Your Life” could easily have slid into a party montage in the updated version of Clueless that this live show was, and it would have absolutely made sense. Azalea’s 23 years-old and clearly existing in rap music as an alter ego of herself. Would Amethyst Amelia Kelly get up onstage and say “This should be outlawed, call me Pac” as she did when performing indie-mixtape era classic “Pu$$y,” an ode to her vagina? More than likely not. However, when Kelly becomes Iggy Azalea, she’s escaped and she wants you to escape as well into an ostentatious and fabulously debauched world in which she is worthy of adoration and appreciation.
There were three wardrobe changes in this concert that should give one a sense of exactly who and what we’re dealing with, here. She opened the show with Steve Aoki-produced dance number “Beat Down” and sashayed across the stage in a unitard decorated with the image of Scarface protagonist Tony Montana with guns blazing at the end of the film. At a certain point her very much T.I. inspired rap for “Murda Bizness” came accompanied with an opened black mesh baseball jersey covering a pink, two-piece high-waisted bikini. Azalea prancing about, dropping it low and showcasing her ample posterior while only dressed in said bikini during her performance of current single “Fancy?” Well, that pretty much said it all.
Azalea’s not so much a great rapper as she is a great emulator of Southern trap rap’s traditions. She’s not so much a great performer as she is great at being self-aware that she’s a celebrity. However, when she rapped in performance encore “Work” that she had “no money, no family,” and was “16 in the middle of Miami,” it provided the perfect close to the live action film that this concert was. A lonely Australian girl gets taken in by the ratchets, becomes cool, and learns how to lead the world. Is she entirely ready to do so in real life? Absolutely not. But for four hours in Silver Spring did everyone have a fun time as defined through a progressive standard? Certainly.
“You used to dealing with basic bitches / Basic shit all the time / I’m a new classic, upgrade your status / From a standby to a frequent flyer / Hop out your past life / And I’ll renovate your future” – Iggy Azalea, “Change Your Life”