My Ten Favorite Lyrics from Iggy Azalea's Accomplished Debut LP 'The New Classic'
Iggy Azalea released her long-awaited debut album The New Classic this week. It's a major milestone for the mediagenic MC who bought a one-way ticket from Australia to Miami, Florida at age 16 to pursue a career in music. After bouncing around the country, tackling plenty of nay-sayers and persevering against the odds, this album is nothing less than a triumph for Azalea. One of The New Classic's greatest accomplishments is that its brings hip-hop and pop fans together by combining Iggy's spitfire raps with meaningful storytelling that people everywhere can relate to.
The New Classic tells a story about the underdog - It's a story of an artist who was told time after time that she couldn't do this or that simply because it wasn't done. Iggy Azalea is a white rapper from Australia with an intense love for hip-hip who pushed ahead and broke the mold despite the skepticism she frequently faced. She did what she believed in and knew that ultimately she would get what she put her mind to.
There's a reason she has a tattoo that says "trust your struggle." The biggest learning from Iggy's experience is that if you pay your dues and stay focused, the struggle will ultimately be your biggest reward. That sentiment is threaded throughout The New Classic. It's an empowering message that makes her a role model for everyone that faces a similar struggle in their own circumstances.
Let's have a look at my ten favorite lyrics on The New Classic that bring Iggy's story to life:
"Hustle and the struggle is the only thing I'm trusting" (from "Work"): This track sumps up Iggy''s struggle to make her dreams come true perfectly. Line after line, she remembers where she came from and what it took to get where she's how. It's about hard work and having the courage to aim high.
"So I'm just climbing, pay that fine, and now I'm shining could be blinding" (from "Walk The Line"): In true hip-hop fashion, Iggy often throws around references to material possessions to make her point. Whether that's diamonds, Rolex watches or a shiny pair of Louboutins. "Walk The Line" is all about setting your goals and being ready to pay your dues to get to the top of the hill.
"Grow stronger and get tougher when the road gets longer" (from "Don't Need Y'All"): After landing in Miami at age 16 with a suitcase and a dream, Iggy knows like no other what it takes to survive. But she turned struggle into something positive and these lyrics from "Don't Need Y'All" are a great example of that.
"Have you ever wished your life would change/Woke up and you lived your dreams/Baby I could help you make that change" (from "Change Your Life"): This track can be interpreted in several different ways, but I consider it a call to action. It's Iggy's way of saying that if she can do it, you can do it too. It's a powerful message that resonates strongly with her fans.
"I just can't worry 'bout no haters, gotta stay on my grind" (from "Fancy"): It comes as no surprise that Iggy ran into lots of scrutiny as a white female rapper from Australia. Even though the hip-hop elite embraced her early and she was selected as an acclaimed XXL Freshman, she had to deal with a lot of criticism. But instead of letting it get to her, it made her stronger and more focused than ever.
"You well done and bitch I'm rare" (from "New Bitch"): Leave it up to Iggy to get clever with words. "New Bitch" is a song about a former lover finding a new chick. Iggy's not going down easy and lets the world know that she's the one who is rare in the relationship. Well-put.
"It gets worse before its better, that storm you gone have to weather/Either be a busted pipe or a diamond due to this pressure" (from "Impossible Is Nothing"): Iggy's metaphor of a stone turning into a diamond under pressure is one that fits right with the sentiment of this record. This is the perfect track for all of those dreamers out there with the message that their wishes can come true even when things seem bleak.
"Same critics wondered if I had it in me/Now want me to play friendly" (from "Goddess"): Iggy directly addresses the haters and other non-believers on "Goddess." The ones who once said she couldn't make it now want to have all of her attention. She simply tells them to bow down, because she's the Goddess now.
"No they thought I wouldn't make it, I'm lookin' like what's the matter?" (from "Lady Patra"): Call her Goddess or Lady Patra, the point is that Iggy is boss. This song is all about living it up and enjoying the riches that come with success with a not so veiled reference to dance hall artist Patra.
"You can't break my heart/You can't take my pride" (from "Fuck Love"): This track primarily tells a tale about a love gone sour , but this particular line speaks to more than one purpose. It's another example of Igyy's potent girl power that lingers throughout this album.
Listen to Iggy Azalea The New Classic on Beats Music.
April 22, 2014 | Permalink
Sam Smith Shines, Electrifies Audience at Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles [Review]
There's no doubt in my mind that Sam Smith is one of the finest and most impressive new talents to reckon with on the pop scene this year. After the success of tracks like "Latch" and "La La La" overseas, he has stepped into the limelight stateside with a firm shot at breakthrough success in America. I saw Smith's very first show in Los Angeles late last year at The Troubadour and was blown away by his confident stage presence and effortless vocal delivery. Smith has one of those rare voices that hit you right at the core and make you feel the exact intent of the song he's emoting.
Sam Smith returned to Los Angeles this week (in conjunction with his stint at Coachella together with his pals of Disclosure) to perform at Belasco Theatre. Smith's popularity has accelerated over the last few months and he played two nights in a row at downtown's historic venue to give as many fans as possible the opportunity to see him live. One of the things that struck me immediately was how many passionate fans had lined up early to see him. That level of fan enthusiasm and commitment this early is a very important indicator of how fast things will develop for Smith.
The British soul-pop crooner played a robust set of new and existing songs including "Money On My Mind," "Nirvana" and "Leave Your Lover," the song that got him noticed and kicked off his career. He also performed the hit singles "Latch" and "La La La" that he worked on with Disclosure and Naughty Boy respectively. He also threw in a cover of Arctic Monkey's "Do I Wanna Know" for good measure.
Each and every song was presented with a dose of gravitas and a heartfelt emotion that had the crowd hanging on to each and every note. Humble yet confident, Smith's incredible soulful vocals seems to come so naturally to him as if it takes no effort at all to move his audience so deeply.
Smith encored with his current U.S. radio hit "Stay With Me" that's taken from his forthcoming debut album The Lonely Hour. It's a gospel-tinged song of majestic beauty that fit the classic Belasco perfectly. One of the night's highlights was when Howard of Disclosure joined Smith for the first part of the encore to perform an acoustic version of "Make It To Me" that was truly moving.
Prior to one of the two shows at Belasco, Smith sat down with a group of college students for an installment of GRAMMY University's Soundcheck series. Students quizzed asked Smith about his sudden rise to fame and his forthcoming debut album. "It all happened very quick for me," he tells the students.
He adds, "I moved to London when I was 18 and started working in a bar. I really hustled my way for a few years, paying rent and stuff, and then luckily I met some incredible people. I wrote a song called 'Lay Me Down' and thing just snowballed. Things from there just happened so fast."
Smith also shared with GRAMMY U students how important it is to find your own voice. Prior to his success, Smith tried out different musical styles and struggled in the music industry. Everything changed when he started writing his truth. "I found that I found myself as a writer and singer when I started speaking the truth in my music," he explains. "Don't focus on sound. Just pour who you are into a song. It's what I have done on my entire album, it's brutal honesty."
April 19, 2014 | Permalink
Betablock3r Premieres Debut Single 'Don't Take Me Home' feat. Vic & Gab [Review]
After producing a series of high-grade remixes for other artists (like this one and this one), production outfit Betablock3r is unveiling their long-awaited debut artist single today. Titled "Don't Take Me Home," the song is a brightly glowing dance-pop confection filled with resplendent synths that features the lush and airy vocals of emerging Milwaukee pop duo Vic & Gab. Play it during a late night drive, a sunset party on the beach or whenever you need a little escape from whatever is dragging you down. Betabloc3r brings out the sunshine and happy vibes with "Don't Take Me Home" no matter where you tune in.
Betablock3r's Chris and Ryan hail from Southern California while Vic & Gab reside in Wisconsin. The four worked remotely on the song that took a fresh new turn after Vic & Gab wrote vocals for an early version of the song. "Originally it sounded like a completely different from what it eventually became. We had written it and sent it out to a couple of writers, and forgot about it," Chris and Ryan write me in an email. "So one day we get an email with this old song we forgot about and these beautiful melodies that Vic and Gab wrote to it. The track took on a completely new life. We immediately loved what we heard."
In fact, Betablock3r liked Vic & Gab's ideas so much that they decided to completely rebuild the song from the ground up. "We had [Vic & Gab] head over to a studio near their hometown in Milwaukee to track the ideas they had written. When we received the vocal takes from the studio they sounded so good we decided the music wasn't cutting it anymore and rewrote the music around the vocals. There are still some remnants of the original track in there but overall it's an entirely different song."
It was an equally productive and pleasant experience for Vic & Gab. "We met Chris and Ryan over the phone and instantly clicked with them. We loved the track they originally sent us and as we started working on it we just fell more and more in love with it. The guys did a great job giving it a breath of fresh air once we were done with our vocals. We couldn't be happier with the end result."
"Don't Take Me Home" is an exciting milestone in Betablock3r's burgeoning artist and production career that has us curious for more. The single will be released everywhere on April 22. Make sure to check it out on Beats Music.
April 17, 2014 | Permalink
Swedish Dance Duo Nause Unveils New Pop Single 'Head Over Heels' [Review]
While on the topic of superb Swedish pop with the announcement of Robyn's new music today, it's a perfect time to also highlight Swedish DJ/production outfit Nause who return with a new single as well. Hause is the duo of childhood friends Jacob Criborn and Leonard Schejawho who first hit the scene in 2011 when they scored big with "Made Of" that was a massive, platinum-selling hit in Sweden.
The success of "Made Of" was followed by "Hungry Hearts" in 2012 that shot straight to number one on the Swedish pop chart. Since then, the two have continued to release a few more chart-topping singles in Sweden plus remixes for people like Afrojack, Tiesto, Britney Spears and Kaskade.
In the Swedish TV documentary series Heartbeats, Jacob and Leonard talk at length about the importance of going back to their roots and crafting big room house music after scoring big radio hits. Now, almost two years later, that experimentation with the club music that first brought them together has refreshed their artistic mojo and has led to another pop-savvy tune that will without a doubt appeal far beyond Sweden's borders.
Last week, Nause unveiled their new single "Head Over Heels" that features the vocals of Kurt Nilson. It's a fine slice of hyper-melodic dance pop that you can file right next to tracks by Avicii, Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, Alesso and many other of Nause's Swedish contemporaries who have made a lasting mark on the international dance and pop scene. No U.S. release date for "Head Over Heels" has been scheduled yet.
April 14, 2014 | Permalink
Full Details: Röyksopp & Robyn Release 'Do It Again' Mini Album on May 26
Finally. This the news we've been waiting for. Pop desperately needs Robyn to return and our wish will come true when the Swedish pop pixie returns next month with a new single and EP (that a press release refers to as a "mini album"). The new music is the result of her teaming with Norwegian pop maestros Röyksopp. Together they will release the Do It Again mini album via Cherrytree Records/Interscope on May 26, 2014. "Do It Again" is the first single and will be released on April 28. The single serves as an introduction to a new Röyksopp album to be released later this year.
The new music is released in conjunction with the very highly anticipated Do It Again tour with Röyksopp and Robyn kicks off this summer in Spain at the Sonar Festival on June 13 and hits the US with stops including the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on June 29 and at Pier 97 in NYC on August 20.
To get us mentally and physically prepared for their big pop summer take-over, Röyksopp and Robyn unveil a clip from Monument, the first track on the mini album. It goes like this:
From this brief listen, "Monument" is exactly the sound and vibe we were hoping and expecting from a Robyn and Röyksopp collaboration. The song's "grandeur and grace is as distinctive as it is moving" and was the first song where they wrote lyrics together. A defining moment on the mini album in the shape of a near ten-minute long anthem, which was inspired by a sculpture from artist Juliana Cerqueira Leite, which gave Robyn a "physical experience of what it's like to define yourself or stand for something or figure out who you are."
In a press release, Röyksopp talks a little bit more about their point of view for their new music. "This 5 track mini-album is the accumulation and embodiment of the synergy between Robyn and ourselves. We've intended this to be a diverse yet cohesive and thought through musical venture; it's meant to be an expression where pop and art reign side by side."
The press release also describes that Röyksopp and Robyn were inspired by each other's company and compelled to create something they had never done before, building on the brief moments when they had come together in the past. Having worked together on "The Girl and the Robot," which appeared on Röyksopp’s Junior album in 2009 and "None Of Dem" on Robyn’s Body Talk Pt. 1 in 2010, the Do It Again mini album sees the two artists doing just that.
Röyksopp adds, "This doesn't sound like Röyksopp featuring Robyn or Robyn produced by Röyksopp, it's just something else entirely. The word 'collaboration' has never before been more justified in the world of music!"
Robyn (who is styled immaculately in the new promo photography) also comments on the new music. "Svein and Torbjörn and I started working on new music in the beginning of 2013, I´ve been going back and forth to Bergen to record and write with the boys up until recently. Collaborating with S & T is something I enjoy very much. In the beginning we just knew we wanted to do something together and then it started to feel more like a band thing than songs for a Röyksopp or Robyn album so we´re releasing this music together as a band you could say."
Check out a few more blurbs from this morning's announcement to get yourself prepared for the onslaught of new pop:
"Do It Again" is the first single taken from the mini album and is an "accidental pop song" written after a night out together in Bergen. The effervescent, effortlessly uplifting electro-pop tune started out as a rave-inspired throwback.
On the other end of the spectrum there is the closing "Inside The Idle Hour Club," which utilizes Robyn's vocal discreetly to create a pensive, slowly evolving soundscape that's worth diving into headlong.
April 14, 2014 | Permalink