The music industry is in a state of flux. Artists like Taylor Swift are fighting the labels that helped to make them, half of the most popular artists on Spotify got their start on soundcloud, and the number one song in the world features Billy Ray Cyrus. It’s hard to grasp, as an industry that was once ever so predictable becomes something that zigs when it’s supposed to zag. There are some positives to this unpredictability – artists like Iggy Azalea are changing with the industry. No longer a part of a major label, Azalea is thriving as an independent artist finally dropping her sophomore album, In My Defense, almost 6 years after her debut release. Her new independence as an artist has given her more than the freedom to release when she wants though, as she appears to have found a new independence creatively as well.
In My Defense is as unpredictable as the music industry, with the album’s first two singles ‘Sally Walker’ and ‘Started’ only being a small taster of what Azalea offers here. Very few of the rest of the tracks match the pure banger energy that ‘Sally Walker’ and ‘Started’ instead Azalea sonically throws it back to the grungy, dirty energy of her Survive the Summer EP for much of the tracklist. ‘Just Wanna’ and ‘Pussy Pop’ attempt to capture the dark whisper that made Survive The Summer cut ‘Tokyo Snow Trip’ a standout, with neither quite getting it right. ‘Comme Des Garcons’ attempts to exist on a similar vein but makes it different, achieving more by doing so. Azalea’s flow here, and elsewhere on the tracklist has a laziness that is almost sensual. ‘Sally Walker’ is easily one of the most interesting tracks due to its concept, while ‘Started’ remains one of the strongest offerings. Interestingly, where the album falls down most is with its hooks which is odd considering the two singles had such strong hooks. A number of collaborations are scattered among the middle of the album, all elevating the material bar the glaring exception of Lil Yachty on ‘Hoemita’, whose verse drains the track of any ounce of energy it had, which is a shame considering he has one of the album’s most original productions. However, Juicy J, Kash Doll and Stini all match Azalea’s bouncy, aggressive style and really add something to their tracks.
J White’s production is overall extremely solid, with maybe a lack of originality posing a small issue, with some tracks seeming a bit too close to his work with Cardi B. However, the 90s influences on ‘Hoemita’ and small touches on ‘Commes Des Garcons’ are particularly nice.
Azalea is game on every track, with her verses being quite strong throughout the record, even when the hooks start to fall apart on the album’s second half. Her performance here oozes confidence, with her lyrics truly reflecting her self-belief. The album also notably doesn’t have a moment of vulnerability, which Azalea’s female peers so often feel necessary to show horn onto their albums for likability (see recent releases like Cardi B’s ‘Thru The Phone’ and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Come See About Me’). It’s is refreshing to see a female rapper be not only confident, but be confident and never undercut herself by forcing emotion.
Overall, In My Defense is a strong sophomore effort for Azalea. Her rapping is the strongest it has ever been, and the passion and confidence required to go independent is a clear across the tracklist. The album may have its faults, but at the end of the day, at least we know it was made with pure passion, and that demands respect.