Iggy Azalea's return to the game feels imminent.
While the stabby synths and finger snaps of Iggy Azalea's breakout hit single "Fancy" are still bumping on millions of playlists across the globe, it's been a staggering six years since the track made its debut on the Billboard Hot 100. Its near-instant success catapulted the Aussie-born rapper to Stateside celebrity status back in 2014, but ever since, Azalea has grappled with personal and professional demons that have continuously threatened to strip her of her relevancy once and for all.
Dragged for her on-wax "blaccent" and tone-deaf appropriation of a culture she seemed hell-bent on exploiting for commercial success, Azalea's status as an icon of crossover success soon proved to be short-lived at best, and at worst, a mistake made by the whims of the masses (or a couple of industry higher-ups). Going home empty-handed from the 2015 Grammy Awards after a year of incredible mainstream success, Azalea revealed that there was, in fact, chinks in her seemingly impervious armor. Once eager to beef with everyone from the press to Papa John's Pizza, Azealia Banks and Q-Tip, it soon became clear that Azalea overstayed her welcome.
Along with dealing with the implosion of her professional career, Azalea suffered a rather humiliating breakup with ex-fiance Nick Young in 2016, in addition to a public reveal of her struggles with both mental health and anger issues.
Now, far enough removed from the situation to look back at her decline with a level head, Azalea admitted in an interview with Billboard that she takes the highs and lows of her past in stride.
"There are moments that I loved, and there are moments where I cringe," said the "Black Widow" rapper. "I think it’s as simple as an outfit you wore at a party... or like when you’re grown up and you look back at your college days. You look back at it with love, and there are other things you were like, 'Oh God, I was such an idiot.’"
Fully cognizant of the toxic behavior that contributed to her downfall, Azalea now possesses the self-awareness necessary to carefully pick up the pieces of her shattered image and rework her personal brand into something that is much more palatable for both her remaining/existing fans and the public at large.
"I’m not on top anymore, honey," admitted the Mullumbimby native. "I’m still here, cleaning up the mess now. At least now, though, I have some perspective on it. And I will say that’s good, because it’s hard to resolve things with anything when you’re still in the thick of it."
Comparing her sudden thrust into the limelight to "landing on Mars," it's evident that Azalea didn't possess the experience, knowledge or balanced worldview necessary to tackle what it means to be famous in our modern age. Shooting her own career in the foot time and time again, Azalea wound up distancing herself from both her fanbase and her industry peers, coming off as an uninformed outsider eager to piss off the greats who came before her, exploit the culture surrounding her genre, while offering seemingly half-assed apologies in response to the ensuing backlash.
Azalea's newfound authenticity, and realness, in owning up to the shade she cast upon her own rising star, is perhaps the single biggest reason why a comeback is even a possibility-- and appears to be picking up steam, at that. After a massive bout of self-reflection, which included a stay at an Arizona inpatient facility to focus on her mental health, Azalea is now the first one to admit where she went wrong, instead of immediately hopping on Twitter to fire shots at people genuinely attempting to steer her in the right direction.
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During a 2018 interview on "The Cruz Show," Azalea offered a level-headed "both sides of the coin" argument to Kim Kardashian's controversial "Bo Derek braids."
"I can understand why some people feel hurt about it because braids are an African-American hairstyle. And I also understand that her inspiration was Bo Derek," said the rapper, willing to see both sides of the argument. "But I can understand why people feel like giving props to where it originates from too."
"That's something that I definitely made mistakes on in the past too, so I understand her making a mistake," continued Azalea, acknowledging her own messy past which included similar claims of cultural appropriation. "It's okay to be inspired by Bo Derek and that movie, but also I can understand why people feel like there should be an acknowledgment of where they originated from."
Shifting the attention from her personal image to her work behind the mic, the first indicator that Azalea was ready to toss her wig back into the rap game was the early 2018 release of her comeback track "Savior," featuring Migos hitmaker Quavo. Made for turning up on the club floor with its down-tempo house beat, the track is also a nod to a "new" Azalea more committed to crafting meaningful bars.
"It is not a record about you needing a man or a woman to come and save you in a relationship, it's about you being your own savior and finding your own strength within yourself to figure it the fuck out," Azalea said in a preview video for the single. "It's a really hard record for me to have written and I think it's going to be one I really struggle to perform, too, just 'cause I'll probably wanna cry every single time."
Driving home just how far "Savior" is removed from her former "Fancy" ode to materialistic glam life, Azalea hopped on Twitter to connect with her fans in a way she hasn't done for years.
"'Savior' was created at a time when I felt so stagnant & alone, but I just couldn’t pick up the phone and admit to even my closest friends how hopeless I felt; so I hope I can connect with anyone else that’s been/going thru it via this song. Can’t wait for you to hear it," tweeted the crossover star.
Peaking at number 7 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart, "Savior" was a mild commercial success, it didn't necessarily break ground for her in any substantial way, but it planted the seed for something. Most importantly, the fact that Azalea was able to snag Quavo for the hook provided the rapper with a much-needed confidence boost after being systematically blacklisted by her former industry mates.
"He gains nothing for being on the song," admitted Azalea, proud that Quavo was willing to attach his name to her work. “Everybody’s probably just like, ‘Oh, but she sucks,’ or ‘Oh, he just did it for money.’ No, he hit me up and we sent music back and forth, and he wanted to do that song."
With over 18 million views on YouTube, the track's neon-tinged visuals are a much stronger representation of the rapper's creative integrity than the less-than-stellar video for 2015's "Pretty Girls" collaboration with Britney Spears.
Springboarding off of the reception of "Savior," Azalea dropped her "Kream" collaboration with Tyga, which debuted at number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100. Released alongside "Tokyo Snow Trip," a promotional single for her EP Surviving the Summer, "Kream" performed well enough (in both streams and video views) that Azalea's label sent it to impact radio, further signaling the Aussie rapper's continued ascent, as she attempts to inch her way back to the top.
After dropping STS in August of last year, Azalea proved once and for all that not only does she have a steady supply of new music after years of studio drought, she has a label that's willing to back her up, push her tracks and support her career in a way that Def Jam never did. Despite the fact that Island Records was seemingly standing behind Iggy this time around, she soon announced that the two had parted ways. Just three months after dropping her EP, Azalea announced to the world that she was once again, an independent artist.
"I’m officially unsigned!!!!" tweeted the "Mo Bounce" rapper. "Wild you spend so long trying to get IN a record deal... never thought I’d be so elated to be OUT of one. now I’m free to release whatever kinda music I like, whenever I’d like woooo!"
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Now ready to write and record without the pressure of a major label demanding a new release, Azalea made good on her social media promise that she's committed to churning out quality content-- and stan Twitter is more than ready for the drop.
Free from the angry self-preservation that previously rendered the rapper unable to take constructive criticism in stride, Azalea is now knocking her past discography in favor of her soon-to-be-released new music.
"Fuck. I’m really proud of my album," the rapper humble-bragged. "It shits on 95% of everything I’ve ever made & its only half done."
Happily beau'd up with Playboi Carti back "home" in Atlanta, Azalea's personal life is now mirroring her professional wins, similar to the way that her engagement to Nick Young crumbled alongside her 2015 downfall. She's back in the headlines quite often: for her music, her relationship and her celebrity status, Azalea now has the clout required to drop a studio-length album that someone might actually want to listen to in 2019.
Hate all you want, Azalea's sure-to-be surprising 2019 chart performance will speak for itself, and no amount of tossed drinks (looking at you, Bhad Bhabie) will stop her comeback train.