Since her uncompromising arrival onto the global hip-hop scene in 2011 Australia’s leading rap export Iggy Azalea has been making waves and ruffling feathers left, right and centre. Rather than the usual disapproval of sexual confidence and identity that engulfs female rappers, the controversy surrounding Azalea has revolved around the accent she has adopted in her music. The Mullumbimby native has swapped her small town Australian twang for a Southern American drawl that has been decried as “mimicry of sonic blackness”. But regardless of the criticism of her apparent disregard for the racial complexities of not only Hip-hop culture but of American society as a whole, there’s no doubt that the current leading lady of mainstream Hip-hop has produced numerous pop-crossover hits that have exploded onto the airwaves worldwide.
Azalea’s latest single Trouble ft. Jennifer Hudson sees her return to the pop-heavy formula that saw the mammoth success of hits Fancy ft. Charli XCX and Black Widow ft. Rita Ora. Taken from Reclassified, the deluxe re-release of her debut album The New Classic, Trouble is yet another collaboration with a female pop giant. It is this overlap between Hip-hop and pop that has afforded Azalea wider audiences than an artist defined by an individual genre, and by which she has found far-reaching success.
While the fundamental compositional formula remains the same, Trouble sees Azalea depart from her characteristic, hard-hitting vocal delivery. The stripped-back production, consisting almost solely of a Motown-inspired piano riff and sparse percussion, accompanies a much softer, sedate tone from Azalea as she laments about falling for the bad boy. This laidback delivery leaves Hudson to provide the boldness, using her powerhouse vocals to perform the show stopping, infectious hook, complete with backing vocals typical of 60s soul. While Azalea delivers a certain amount of attitude with her blasé, fed-up but unflinching flow, Hudson is definitely the star of the track.
Irrespective of widespread condemnation of Azalea’s caricature of Southern Hip-hop within the Hip-hop community, and propelled by its pop-soul production (following the trend of recent hits by Meghan Trainor, Pharrell Williams, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars) the jaunty track will more than likely become the rapper-come-pop star’s latest chart topper.