Friday, November 21, 2014

Reclassified | Iggy Azalea


★★★★☆

Album repacks are nothing new in today's industry, and Australian rapper Iggy Azalea wasted no time to make one final release to affirm her stance as one of the biggest stars of 2014. As she quickly went from rags to riches this year with three massive radio hits under her belt thus far, Azalea clearly began to prepare methods to repeal the "No money, no family, sixteen in the middle of Miami" stance of her debut album. Her solution takes physical form in Reclassified, a twelve track release containing seven of her best cuts from her debut album, The New Classic, as well as five new tracks from a reinvigorated Azalea and her new collaborators.

While The New Classic allowed I-G-G-Y to contrast her success and her roots, the five new tracks included on Reclassified tout Iggy Azalea for all that she is worth. In the opening track of the album, "We in This Bitch," Azalea proclaims, "Now let's reflect where we left on New Classic / I overstepped what was expected, blew past it" to switch viewpoints from one set to the other. A promo single for the repack, "IGGY SZN," concretes Azalea's new lyrical aim: she is the ruling female presence of mainstream rap and wants to keep it that way. With her closest contemporaries releasing albums late in the year (Azealia Banks' Broke with Expensive Taste and Nicki Minaj's The Pinkprint), Azalea was left to take control of the female rap game recently: "Everywhere I go they say it’s Iggy season / 'Til I get what I want, baby I ain’t leaving."

Azalea's biggest hits to date, "Fancy" and "Black Widow," are both included on this set, but the winning formulas of both are united for "Beg for It." The track, which combines a similar beat from "Widow" and a bratty Charli XCX-penned hook à la "Fancy," features Danish singer-songwriter MØ, who infamously crashed Azalea's Saturday Night Live performance with faulty lip-syncing. British songbird Ellie Goulding is called in for assistance on "Heavy Crown," in which the two divas claim, "This heavy crown, it comes and goes around / And when it's time, I'll pass it proud / But bitch I got it now." Instrumentally, we see small nods to M.I.A.'s chaotic production meeting trap synths, with Goulding's choruses acting as a slowdown from the robust verses. In a Radio.com interview, Azalea rightfully described the collaboration as a newfound "aggressive" side of Goulding while offering a change of pace for both artists. A new sonic direction is also taken on "Trouble," Azalea's second collaboration with Jennifer Hudson. The duo bows away from trap and electronic influences to pull Azalea into J. Hud's comfortable soul territory.

In all, Reclassified only offers five new tracks, which seems a bit too small by comparison to other repacks. While a small amount of new material would normally deem a repack unjustifiable, the format used for this release is ingenious. By only including select highlights from the original album and then blending some new cuts into the mix, Iggy Azalea and her team may have just Reclassified what an album repack should entail. For those who never purchased the entirety of The New Classic should highly consider checking out its condensed essentials-only companion; anything that lugged the original album down to a three-out-of-five star set has been removed and replaced with tracks that are more worthwhile. Good thing we already put her name in bold, because she's going to be around for longer than just a season.

Reclassified will be released on November 24, 2014 under Virgin EMI Records.

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