Artist: Iggy Azalea

Genre: Hip Hop/Club

Best Tracks: Iam The Stripclub, Brazil, Emo Club Anthem

Weakest Tracks: STFU, Pillow Fight

Duration: 39 min 27 sec

Release Date: August 13, 2021

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea is known for her megahits “Fancy”, “Work” and “Bounce”. Lately, she has been mired in controversy due to accusations of cultural appropriation of black music (Azalea is a white rapper who makes hip-hop music), as well as for apparently sporting a “blaccent” whenever she raps. As a result, the rapper is planning to release her last album titled ‘The End of an Era’ before she retires and focuses on family life, away from public scrutiny and Twitter witchunters. However, we all know that when a music artist — especially a rapper — announces retirement, it should be taken with a grain of salt as they often come back to work after a year of vacationing or therapy. Now back to the album…

‘The End of an Era’ had some well-hyped singles last month with “Brazil” and “I am the Stripclub”. And it has features like BIA, Sophia Scott, and Ellise. Although it was expected to go back to Iggy’s earlier style of hardcore rap, it has subverted our expectations by leaning heavy towards club music and house rap. But does it work well?

The album starts with “Sirens”, an energetic opener with lyrics about making high stacks, getting bucket loads of fame, and going viral. Since Iggy’s songs have lately not really gone viral, we can guess that this is a practice in manifestation. Look into the mirror and tell yourself what you want to hear, and the cosmos will do what it can to bring it to you. What you are is what you attract. Or so it goes.

Now “Brazil” is a strong stand out in this album. It has a harsh grating sound (or noise), that reminds one of the recently popular hyper-pop genre. It definitely goes for the style, reminding us of the innovative and strange, almost otherworldly, music pioneered by the late great Scottish producer SOPHIE. The crazy beat also sounds like “I Got It” by another hyper-pop star, the British-Indian Charli XCX. For these reasons, “Brazil” is an unexpected but laudable sonic choice by the rapper and one of the more exciting tracks in this album.

“Emo Club Anthem”, while not as daring as “Brazil”, still has a distinct sound that makes it stand apart from the record. It has a dark rave vibe, the kind of club music that played in notorious and illegal clubs in England in the 90s. There’s also house rap influence here such as Azealia Banks’ house burner “212” (featuring Lazy Jay). The beat in the chorus is insane, sounding like The Chainsmokers’ “Selfie”. This is not a criticism, though, because it’s playful and self-aware. Also in the chorus, Azalea goes “I love drugs!” repetitively. This may feel corny to some but it somehow works mostly. In any case, “Emo Club Anthem” is a memorable track.

The production on “Emo Club Anthem” continues (in a way) into the next track called “STFU”. It’s a simpler instrumentation and gets a bit tiring and unadventurous, like something we have heard before. Things pick up again with “Iam The Stripclub”, produced by J White. It’s another great club banger which overflows with confidence and sass, with some strong rapping from Azalea.

“Woke Up (Diamonds)” is another highly listenable club track. The fresh beat creates an atmosphere of fancy boutiques and nail stores in high end shopping malls. The lyrics won’t be outdone, and suitably matches up to the instrumentation with Azalea boasting of diamonds, watches, luxurious items. It again reminds one of an Azealia Banks song, especially “1991” and “Luxury”. This is the second time that Banks’ influence can be heard in this album. Interestingly, the two rappers had a dramatically huge fight on social media some years ago, with Azealia Banks accusing Iggy Azalea of cultural appropriation and using her white privilege to get ahead in the hip hop industry.

“Is That Right” features young American rapper BIA, and sees Iggy fiercely deliver some of her most confident and arrogant lyrics: “I’m a f***ing superstar, get your facts right” and “Shining like the sun, got designer for my body, got designer for my son”. She raps of throwing cash into the wind as fans and paparazzi scramble to get their hands on the notes as Iggy drives away. It’s a common imagery in hip-hop music, but that isn’t a bad thing as Iggy does this well. BIA has a great voice in this with a ferocity that shows her precociousness and artistic growth. She’s only going to get better from here.

“XXXTRA” and “Peach Body” are largely sleepers and the album gets more drowsy, un-exploring and predictable or all of the above with these two songs. They are not terrible in any way, but sometimes, a mediocre song has a worse effect on the listener than an obviously bad song.

We now get to the raunchy “Sex On The Beach” which features Nashville-based country-pop singer Sophia Scott. It’s nice to see this singer explore new territory with the help of Iggy Azalea. The afrobeat-inspired song reminds me of rapper Megan Thee

Stallion’s similarly afrobeat attempt with “Intercourse” that released last year and featured Nigerian singer Popcaan. There, Popcaan sang about having “sex in the pool”. Now, with this song, Iggy raps about ” Sex on the beach”. Again, it is not an original concept in any way, but it does what it was meant to: be sexy and entertaining, breezy and light.

Now the songs are mostly bops, competent enough to play at a party or club,and it surely will be played in them. But one will be waiting and waiting for it all to go somewhere, for the beat to perhaps switch, or have moments that blow us away. But it never really goes all out. Perhaps we needed one song to make the transition from the sad music back to the party track at the end. It feels like it was missing some fillers. In the end, ‘The End of an Era’ has some good, catchy tunes but nothing we haven’t heard before, nor does it succeed to reach the previous heights of Iggy’s chart hits in the early 2010s. Another glaring problem here is the lack of daring in Iggy’s vocal delivery; she sounds the same in all the songs even when the production varies. Still, it’s a great listen if you’re into club dance and house rap.

‘The End of an Era’ is now streaming on Spotify.

Listen to it on YouTube

Also read: New Songs Saturday: A look at this week’s track releases

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