“There is more misinformation about my life than there is truth,” claims Iggy Azalea; Get your facts straight people!

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 3.31.12 PM
via @thenewclassic Instagram

 

If you haven’t heard of Iggy Azalea yet then you may be living on another planet, or perhaps under a rock, because this Australian rapper has climbed the charts in both the U.S. and U.K. with her singles “Work”, “Change Your Life”, “Bounce” and most recent release “Fancy”. The more popularity she gains in the predominantly male hip-hop/rap music industry as a white, female artist, the more that people want to know about her background, personal life and current success. From the looks of it, many people (critics and personal haters of Iggy) don’t have their facts straight. Her story is in the lyrics of songs “Work” and “Change Your Life”, people just fail to notice and begin to make the assumption that because she is a rare figure in the rap game and lives the flashy lifestyle now, that she didn’t have a struggle to become famous and make these million dollar deals. Iggy doesn’t have ‘Trust Your Struggle’ tatted on her arm for nothing; it means something to the young artist and she discusses the meaning of it in her interview with MTV Voices. I’m going to give you the inside scoop on Iggy’s life by analyzing the lyrics of both songs “Work” and “Change Your Life” where Iggy flawlessly raps about her harsh rise to fame in the music industry.

Iggy Azalea shows off her “Trust Your Struggle” tattoo in a photo shoot with High Snob Society.

 

First I’ll give you some brief background information on Iggy. Just so you know her songs are truthful and not made up to receive pity. Not everything starts off smooth and easy, but things do eventually get better. This especially applies to the life of Iggy Azalea who didn’t have anything before coming to the U.S. and entering the music industry.

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Iggy as a kid on Easter via. @thenewclassic Instagram

 

Shout out to the small New South Whales town of Mullumbimby, Australia for producing one of the current most popular female artists in the hip-hop/rap music industry! Born as Amethyst Amelia Kelly on June 7, 1990, Iggy Azalea was raised by her single mother and worked most of her life in order to support the rest of the family (she has one brother and one sister) and also finance her dream of coming to the U.S. to produce rap music. In her VEVO LIFT UK “Becoming Iggy Azalea” (below) Iggy discusses her childhood and upbringing in a town “that nobody ever leaves, is really like jail” and how hearing rap music for the first time made her “happy and feel strong” and feel like she “had a friend that was music”.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t203sT_NYLI[/youtube]

Iggy expresses the thoughts and feelings that she experienced as a teenager through her song “Work”. The title of this song implies that Iggy’s rise to stardom was not handed to her on a silver platter, but that she had to put forth the effort alone in order to become the inspiring female rapper she is today. Iggy is blatantly “tryna let you know what the f*ck that I’ve been through” with lyrics that are honest and frank but mirror Iggy’s personality as a woman who is fighting hard to stay in the rap game and will do what she has to to become the best. The song accurately tells Iggy Azalea’s story from the beginning (living in Australia) to the present (living in the U.S. as a recording artist). Iggy gives us background information about her life prior to coming to the U.S. in her first verse:

“Two feet in the red dirt, school skirt
Sugar cane, back lanes
Three jobs, took years to save
But I got a ticket on that plane”

Iggy continues her story in the bridge by stating that after landing in the U.S. on July 4th, 2006, she had “No money, no family” and was “Sixteen in the middle of Miami”. It undoubtedly had to be a scary experience for the teen seeing how it was her first time ever leaving her small rural hometown in the Land Down Under!

The chorus of “Work” is where Iggy explains just how much she had to do in order to make it into the music industry:

 “I’ve been up all night, tryna get that rich
I been work, work, work, work, working on my sh*t”

The line “Milked the whole game twice, gotta get it how I live” within the chorus opens up a topic of Iggy’s life that was extremely difficult to overcome; the fact that she not only signed one time with Mercury Records in 2012, but then signed to Island Def Jam Music Group only one year later after not succeeding with Mercury. Iggy further explains and addresses her thoughts on the matter within her second verse where she gets down and dirty without holding back.

In her second verse, Iggy includes lyrics such as “First deal changed me, Robbed blind, basically raped me” to infer exactly how her early career as an artist never allowed her to reach her full potential and that it changed her outlook on the whole game. She was pouring her own money into projects including music videos and recording, her manager Sarah Stennett wasn’t helpful, and Iggy just wasn’t gaining the satisfaction she was looking for. Then Iggy explains how she got through the difficulty of failing at her first attempts by going harder, studying the Carters, sleeping on a cold floor of a studio and recording at 4a.m. until she finally reached her dream.

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via @thenewclassic Instagram

 

However, there is a shift in attitude from the second verse to the third verse. Coming from the second verse we see the harsher side of Iggy; the woman who states that others “ill intent was insurance for my benefit” and that she hates (sarcastically) “to be inconsiderate”. The third verse shows the softer and more appreciative Iggy Azalea. Iggy raps “pledge allegiance to the struggle”, which can be taken as a  thanks to the industry because even though it was rough, it shaped her into the artist she is now. Iggy then goes on to thank her mom stating that she will pay her back for everything she did. The song “Work” begins with the hype that listeners of our generation want to hear from someone so exotic but ends with a calmness that leaves one feeling like they know Iggy on that personal level. Overall, Iggy gives her listeners insight on her personal life with strong emotional lyrics that make it hard to stop listening to “Work”. The video for the song makes it even harder to pull your eyes away from the screen. Below is a behind the scenes look at the making of the song “Work”.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0NWSp4Lnno[/youtube]

The lyrics of “Change Your Life” are a complete one-eighty degree turn from those of “Work”. In “Change Your Life” Iggy Azalea raps about the luxury that she presently lives in. Not only does she exemplify the fact that she is no longer seen as a girl whose “passion was ironic” and had “dreams that were uncommon” as rapped in “Work”, but that she is so successful and wealthy now that she can CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Iggy can do more than just take care of herself, she has the ability to effect the lives of others using the finer things in life! Iggy’s got that “good-good” and she “can show you how to do this thing”! Iggy raps “We fast forward four years more, we long way from piss poor” exemplifying her transformation from having absolutely no money to living the American dream as an Australian, female rapper:

“Damn, this is the life
Exclusive sh*t with all access granted
In the country where the accents are grand,
And they landing on top of foreign mansions”

However, it’s not only Iggy’s lyrics that influence the idea of living the life but rapper T.I.’s as well, who is featured in the song:

“I get you everything that you need
I’m talking ’bout red bottoms LV”
“You fly over in coach and fly back in a jet
Hustle gang got your chest,
Ain’t no time for stress”

Iggy Azalea also lets it be known that she is something rare and new to the rap game but yet she has a throwback style that is similar to those like Tupac and Andre 3000 (her favorite rappers) which is apparent in the title of her debut album The New Classic. Iggy also implies this in the “Change Your Life” lyrics:

“You used to dealing with basic bitches
Basic shit all the time
I’m a new classic, upgrade your status”

One thing for sure is that Iggy doesn’t like to be compared to other female rappers but with our society it’s inevitable. Iggy works to separate herself from other white, female artists such as Kreayshawn (who she has been compared to relentlessly) because she is nothing like them, as she claims in this interview (time 1:55 – 2:20). She’s not your average white girl and she certainly makes that clear in her music and lifestyle.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLGOxcOgVkc[/youtube]

Just like in her “Work” video, Iggy does a good job of giving her viewers an image that directly correlates with what her lyrics are portraying in the “Change Your Life” video. Here is a behind the scenes clip of the making of the “Change Your Life” video and the personal inspiration of Iggy that went in to making it complete perfection.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0VNGx6JHZY[/youtube]

Behind all of Iggy Azalea’s songs there is a deeper meaning. Whether the song is humbling like “Work” or flashy like “Change Your Life”, the true meaning can be seen in Iggy’s lyrics as she constructs raps and beats that reflect her thoughts and ideas as a growing artist. Iggy Azalea sends messages to her listeners in a unique way through rap and for those who actually listen, we here it!

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The New Classic has reached number 1 on the iTunes list.

Everyone should be rushing to stores or buying the extremely down to earth debut album The New Classic on iTunes that released on April 22, 2014! In this video below, Iggy Azalea refers to what her album is all about. So take a listen to the already chart topping album and indulge your ears with the deep bass, smooth flow and incredibly engineered lyrics of Iggy Azalea.

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agrkA8MqElA[/youtube]

 

 

 

 

Just in case you needed a different way to interpret the true meaning behind Iggy Azalea’s songs “Work” and “Change Your Life”, here is a small pop-up video pointing out the most important aspects of both songs!

 

 

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’: The Story of a Man through His Song

If you haven’t seen the Coen brother’s film Inside Llewyn Davis, take a second and watch the trailer. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JvHEDJEguY[/youtube]

Looks pretty good right? Now if you are thinking “this is not my type of movie, I don’t even like folk music” hold on one second. Yes, the movie focuses around the folk-music industry during the early 1960s. However, the movie is not only about folk-music it is also about the artist. In the movie we follow the proud yet disheartened folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) for a week as he struggles to make himself known as a solo artist in the Greenwich Village folk-music scene. Although the music is a central element to the story-line the movie isn’t a musical either.  In fact Tom Shone is very accurate in describing the movie as an anti-musical. Llewyn Davis sings because the “plot requires it” and “not in happiness, but out of pain.”

Inside Llewyn Davis gif
Source: prettycinema.tumblr.com

Llewyn Davis does not end up being the next Bob Dylan, he does not come to grips fully with rejection and loss, and we are left as an audience where we began….in an ally with a beat up Llewyn Davis before our eyes.

Yet as I sat there discussing the movie with friends I began to love the movies lack of progression more and more, and upon further evaluation realized the importance the musical pieces have in defining Llewyn Davis. As Llewyn Davis develops throughout the film, the tone and message of his songs change, and he begins to accept that he does not have the will to become a folk artist.

Starting at the first scene I will go through some of the major numbers of the movie that work towards Llewyn Davis’ ultimate farewell to folk music and demonstrate his growth as a character.

Hang Me, Oh Hang Me

We are first introduced to Llewyn Davis as he sings this song in the Gaslight Café in 1961. He is performing as a solo artist after losing his music partner, Mike, to suicide. This song captures his depression and endless cycle of pain that he is experiencing at the beginning of (and throughout) the movie. Not only is the atmosphere important in defining his character but so are the lyrics. The first verse of the song:

“Hang me, oh hang me

I’ll be dead and gone

I wouldn’t mind the hanging

But the layin’ in a grave so long, poor boy

I been all around this world.”

gives the audience some insight that he has been struggling as an artist for some time now. He has been through many hardships and nothing has worked in his favor. Thus causing him to almost be at the point of giving up and calling it quits on his musical career.

listen to “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”                                                                          
Fare Thee Well

This is the first time that we witness Llewyn Davis sing this song-or attempt to sing this song I should say. When asked to sing for the Gorfeins dinner guest he makes it about 30 seconds into the song when Mrs. Gorfein begins to sing Mike’s part causing Llewyn to stop mid-song. Although we don’t get to hear most of the lyrics during this number we are given a glimpse of Llewyn’s true character. Llewyn is often portrayed as callous and stubborn, and yet here we see that he is vulnerable. He is still grieving his friend’s death, and has yet to reconcile that loss with his music. He ends his performance never finishing the line “fare thee well oh hone-“ perhaps representing the fact that he is not yet ready to say goodbye to his partner or to his folk music career.

The Death of Queen Jane
the death of queen jane
Source: Peanuts and Pocorn

Llewyn’s performance of “The Death of Queen Jane” is the major transition point of the movie. He is still grieving the death of his partner, realized that he has fathered a child and has recognized that multiple people are questioning his music and his life and maybe he should be too. All these emotions pour out into this song in order to impress the Gate of Horn owner Bud Grossman. In spite of his moving performance, Mr. Grossman simply states “I don’t see a lot of money here.” He doesn’t believe that Llewyn Davis would be prosperous as a solo act and offers him a part in a trio he is putting together. I believe this is where Llewyn Davis decides a career in music is not for him. He still loves and appreciates it. However, he is starting to recognize that his approach to music does not fit into the music industry mold of that time, and he is not willing to change himself in order to fit that mold. Sam Adam makes the case that the song “reflects his mixed feelings about his (possibly) two children, one alive and unseen, the other unborn and soon to be dead and (Llewyn’s) self-sacrifice.” As he puts down his guitar and sings the last few verses:

If I lose the flower of England, I shall lose the branch too

I shall lose the branch too”

There was fiddling, aye, and dancing on the day the babe was born

But poor Queen Jane beloved lay cold as the stone

Lay cold as the stone

we witness his very own internal debate. If he ends the pursuit of his career as a folk artist he would be losing his flower, the music he has devoted his life to, and in turn lose himself (the branch). So just as “poor Queen Jane beloved lay cold as the stone” in the song, such is the loss of his career and his will to try and save it. And maybe Adam is correct in saying that Llewyn has to “suffer a kind of symbolic death” in order to be able to move on from his loss and rejection. Perhaps letting his music die is the only way to break his cycle of suffering and be able to grow as an individual.

listen to “The Death of Queen Jane”                                                                     
Shoals of Herring

After being rejected at the Gate of Horn club in Chicago, Llewyn decides that folk music isn’t what he is cut out to do and he makes plans to leave and become a member of the merchant marines. However, before leaving he visits his father and sings a favorite song of his, “The Shoals of Herring”, in order to try and communicate with him. As he ends with the verse:

“Night and day we’re faring

Come winter wind or winter gale

Sweating or cold,

Growing up, growing old and dying

we are reminded of the toils that he has endured, and the endless cycle of defeat he seems to be caught in. I think at this moment he begins to except the fact that despite any emotional ties he has to folk music, he can’t find success in it and it is time to leave. After all he is “growing up, growing old and dying” and for him to survive… he must move on.

Listen to “The Shoals of Herring”                                                                               
Fare Thee Well
Inside-Llewyn-Davis
Source: prettymuchamazing.com

This is the last performance that we see Llewyn Davis perform, and is said to be one of the climaxes of the movie according to the cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel in an interview. Again we are back in the Gaslight Café, watching Llewyn Davis pour his soul out to the audience. This is his farewell to folk music, his final goodbye to the only life he has known. As he sings the last lines:

 “If I had listened to what my mama said

 I’d be at home in my mama’s bed

 Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well”

 we are reminded (and perhaps he is too) that maybe just maybe if he would have listened to the producers, joined a trio or branched out more, he might have made it as an artist. However we are left as an audience not knowing how Llewyn Davis’ story will end.

Listen to “Fare Thee Well”                                                                                         
Farewell

As Llewyn Davis leaves the Gaslight Café to meet the stranger out back, thus completing the cycle and his journey, we are treated with “farewell” performed by Bob Dylan in the Café. We are reminded of what came out of the Greenwich Village folk scene as Bob Dylan is about to take the world by storm. Thus realizing that Llewyn Davis would have never stood a chance in his current state. Looking at the lyrics:

Oh the weather is against me and the wind blows hard

And the rain she’s a-turnin’ into hail.

I still might strike it lucky on a highway goin’ west,

Though I’m travelin’ on a path beaten trail.

We are reminded of the obstacles he has faced during the week that we witness. There is something in him that thought that he had a chance-that he could have “made it big.” However, if he were to continue now he would just be traveling on a trail behind the great Bob Dylan. A shadow behind one of the greatest folk artist of all time. And as Bob Dylan sings:

“It ain’t the leavin’

That’s a-grievin’ me

But my true love who’s bound to stay behind”

we can think back to Llewyn Davis and the journey he has just completed and how it has caused him to leave his one true love, folk-music, behind.

listen to “Farewell”                                                                                                                

As David Brusie states in his review of the soundtrack “film soundtracks can seldom be appreciated as standalone works, but the music from Inside Llewyn Davis is a notable, and welcome exception to the rule.” The music itself is great, but more important is how these pieces demonstrate the evolution of his character. As you can see the lyrics tell the tale of Llewyn Davis. 

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Source: gify.com

It shows his growth and his defeat as he realizes that he is not ready or just not cut-out to become a folk-artist. That is why this movie is so great (perhaps verging on brilliant). It is a movie about a man and his music and the Coen brothers allowed that music to tell the story of Llewyn Davis.

Brittney Eckman is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying Biochemistry. When she isn’t working she enjoys reading, watching a good movie or playing volleyball. 

Is Country Pop here to stay? I sure hope not.

Whiskey in my Water”, “Cruise”, “Crash My Party”, “I Want Crazy”, and many other country songs have seen wild popularity in recent years, not only in the country sector, but also have spent some time on the pop charts.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJAe5miXN_Y[/youtube]

But are they really country? They are classified as country, and upon first glance they may appear to be country thanks to the recurring themes of small town life, beaches, beer, and girls. However, under closer inspection of the lyrics and style it becomes clear that these songs have very little meaning, and stray far from the southern Appalachian roots of real country music. That’s not to say that they are bad songs, or that they are not fun to listen to. They just lack a certain authenticity that I, as a life long country music fan, have grown up loving. To fully understand the downward spiral country music has taken in recent years one must first understand where country music got started.

Jimmie Rodgers
Jimmie Rodgers or the Father of Country Music poses with his guitar.
Source: http://tsutpen.blogspot.com

The birthplace of country music was in the southern Appalachian area in the early 1910’s. The founders of this genre were of the white working class and their songs focused mainly on society. It wasn’t until the 1920s that this new style of music was officially given its own genre. First came the fiddle playing from people such as Henry C. Gillard. His piece called “Arkansas Traveler” was a work of art and it set the tone for the 20s where the main elements of country music were the string instruments. However, this all changed when the man commonly regarded as the “Father of Country Music” came along. His name was Jimmie Rodgers. He was wildly successful and started the vocal revolution of the country genre. He was obsessed with the cowboy lifestyle and his music reflected this. He commonly donned a cowboy hat, and perhaps this set a precedent for future country singers to wear cowboy hats. At this point in history the record companies had split music into two main categories; “white people music” and “black people music”. His songs “Waiting for a Train,” “T for Texas,” and “Mule Skinner Blues” became wildly popular, which ironically enough were heavily influenced by the blues or so called “black people music.” Rogers basically married the vocals of the black and the instrumentals of the white. He became a big star, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of fame in 1961 nearly 30 years after his death. The first successful group that incorporated vocals was The Carter Family. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewnfWoSQz3o[/youtube]

They were popular and performed for decades with the most popular song being “Wildwood Flower.”

 

220px-Bill_Monroe
Bill Monroe Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Monroe

Bluegrass, a very mountainous shoot off from country, made its debut in the 1940s. Bill Monroe also know as the “Father of Bluegrass” was instrumental in popularizing the genre with his hybrid mix of country, British, and African music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of fame in 1970, and interestingly enough into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. In the 1930s and 1940s much of country music was written for movies and many country music stars made acting appearances. This helped to facilitate the spread of country even further. Another shoot off of country, dubbed “honky-tonk” came about in the 40s thanks to a man named Ernest Tubb. Other prominent figures include Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. This style is one of the most lasting forms of country music and is still popular in many country music bars today. It is a rougher brand of country music with songs like “Whiskey River” and “Red Headed Stranger.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiVunqkZ1RM[/youtube]

The dominant style of country took a sharp turn in the 60s. Taking many notes from jazz Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, and Jim Ed Brown all helped bring about a new era in country music that has a more polished and smooth edge. Songs included both stories and an orchestra. Songs such as “Gone” and “Four Walls” characterize this brand of country.  At the same time this type of country was developing a very different sound was also making headway. Known as the Bakersfield Sound this brand was a “gritty” sound with influences from rock and roll and put more of an emphasis on louder music and drums. These two brands were rivals to each other and the two groups of artists were constantly competing for the bigger share of the country music market. In order to keep up with the growing success of Bakersfield sound, Nashville sound consciously morphed into a country-politan to appeal to a bigger listening base. Country politan was one of the early mechanisms that allowed for country music to morph into country pop.

country outlaws
Willie Nelson alongside some other “outlaw country” singers.
Source: Google Images

In the 70s some country music artists were disgusted with the Nashville vs. Bakersfield “who can sell the most records” competition, and felt it was devaluing country music by having too many rules on what can and can’t be written all based on what will sell better. Out of this frustration Outlaw country was born. Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and David Allan Cole all prided themselves on singing about and playing music however they like. They had a more ragged look with long hair and more ratty clothes than the expected suits of that time period. A less memorable era of country music was the Urban Country movement of the late 70s. Johnny Lee and Dolly Parton were popular for this hybrid of country with some pop influences. The Urban Country (thankfully) was vastly overshadowed by the so called “Class of 89” country musicians. Artists such as Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt and Clint Black successfully revitalized country music by adding more youth and meaning to it while at the same time infusing some rock and roll influences bringing country back from the brink of stalling out from the Urban Country and country-politan fiascos.

Fast-forward through the great era of Jackson and Brooks to today where country music yet again has fallen victim to the influences of pop and the focus on making as much money as possible by appealing to everyone rather than making money by making good country music.

Today’s country could be split into two categories; the first being a new modern style of music with country influences that actually is composed of decent, genuine songs. Artists like this include Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker, and Rascal Flatts.

Zac Brown Band has puts its own twist on country music
Zac Brown Band has puts its own twist on country music, but it still retains its sincerity.
Source: Google Images
FGL
Here is Florida Georgia Line looking much more Hollywood than country.
Source: Ticketmaster

The second form is a watered down version of ’89 country that brings back memories of the Urban-country-politan era. This brand includes a whole slew of artists with the leaders being Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Taylor Swift. This new country could be classified as pop with country undertones. The songs have very little to no meaning, and any message in the songs is very superficial. The songs are incredibly predictable and the vast majority of them are about the very same thing drinking beer or “getting the girl.”

The most pressing question is: Is this just another phase of country music that will be forgotten like the Urban-country-politan? Will some of the greats from the 90s and early 2000s such as Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks come in to save country music from stalling out? Or will they give in and buy into the moneymaking machine of country pop? As of right now it seems they are falling victim to the draw of country pop.

Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney greeting each other at an awards show.
Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney greeting each other at an awards show.
Source: iHeart Radio

Paisley and Kenny Chesney have both historically been very genuine with songs like “Then” and “I Go Back,” but now they are selling superficial songs like “Come Over” and “Don’t Drink the Water” indicating that country music is in serious danger of losing its value and falling from its former glory into the depths of hybrid pop. One can only hope its not too late.