The first few years of Iggy Azalea's mainstream music career have been a divided by triumph and turbulence: Her 2014 breakout, "Fancy," was one of the year's most inescapable songs, and its follow up, "Black Widow," was similarly a smash; but she also found herself the butt of jokes, singled out for accusations of appropriation, and at the center of numerous public spats (which ended with her leaving social media early last year).
Her public thumping came in many forms, from Azalea Banks calling her out to Q-Tip's Twitter-published hip-hip history lesson. And now she's combating one of the thrusts of many of the critiques -- that she doesn't care about or respect the history and state of black music and black culture.
“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," she said in a new interview with Elle Canada, which features her on its latest cover. "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.
"It’s black culture and black music, so it becomes a racial conversation -- versus [fellow Australia native] 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."
She said that she'd "Men in Black memory-erase 2015," but since that's not possible, she says she's done what's probably the next best thing: Learned from it.
“I think the biggest lesson I learned is that people are going to say what they’re going to say," she said. "And it’s really hard not to get emotional or become overly sensitive about other people’s opinions, especially if you feel like they’re wrong. But I think I spent a lot of energy last year trying to explain my side of the story because I thought ‘If you could just understand my side, surely you’d agree with me.’ But some people aren’t ever going to agree with you—and that’s just life.”
Now, she's back to the music, with her Digital Distortion album on the way at some point this year.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an angry album. It’s still uptempo and fun, but it’s a little more grown-up and moody. I didn’t want people’s commentary to take me away from the style of music that I make. There are some ‘F--k yous’ and ‘F--k yeahs,’ but I want people to hear it and feel good.”