A Letter To Iggy Azalea

Iggy Simone

Dear Iggy,

I want to talk to you. I lost all my numbers and had no way to call you, so I’ve tried emailing and DM’ing you on Twitter with no response. I’ve asked your record label numerous times to organize an interview with us to no avail (you might want to look into that). I’ve stayed uncharacteristically quiet on the subject of “you” as non-stop dispatches fire across my social media recently. I’ve read every conversation and comment closely, waiting for the right time to share my thoughts. I’ve got no other way to reach you, so here I am.

When you were brought to my attention as an artist, I was hopeful. I was shocked at how hopeful I was, actually. I’m a proud person of Middle Eastern descent, one of many minorities back home in Australia who took to hip-hop as shelter, growing up in a country that shamefully denies its race problems. I thought I’d look at you suspiciously, especially when I realized you were rapping in a voice different to the one you were born with. Something in my heart told me to not only give you a fair shot but also throw my support behind you, so I hosted your first on-camera interview. When you walked into the DrJays.com offices, you had that gorgeous “star in the making” vibe. I’ll never forget when you registered I was the woman who created the magazine you used to read back in the day (Australia’s most successful hip-hop/R&B magazine, Urban Hitz) and how excited you were to be conducting our interview from the plush New York City offices of the same website you ordered Baby Phat and Apple Bottoms gear from on the other side of the world—a teenager in a country town called Mullumbimby who was outcast because she was white, a fan of hip-hop culture and an aspiring MC.

You’ve come a long way in a short time. We bond when we see each other. You dropped everything to make me a namesake track, “Boss Lady,” for my Woman On Top mixtape. I remember your confusion and heartbreak when you and [A$AP] Rocky ended things. I remember your joy and elation (shout out to Peezy) at the first sold-out show you did at S.O.B.’s, a show I hosted with fans lined up for blocks before you had a hit single. I remember your disappointment when blogs like NahRight.com and RapRadar.com wouldn’t post your music or acknowledge you. When Rah Digga spoke on you and you diplomatically responded, “I honestly don’t really mind if I’m described as rap or pop” I could hear you silently screaming, “I am a fucking rapper!”

When a veteran like Snoop Dogg “teases” you on Instagram, you publicly take offense. Snoop’s instinctive reaction, of course, is to go harder. He’s been disrespecting women since I was gleefully singing along to “Ain’t No Fun” as a teenager. You know that; we all know that. You have a genuine supporter in T.I., one I hope you recognize and appreciate.

Rap’s obviously a tough space for women. White female rappers have come before you, but none have reached your success. Mainstream media now holds you up while hip-hop media disassociates itself from you, just as it was starting to give you the shine you [once?] craved.

In Australia you’re a hot topic, especially when it comes to your ever-changing accent. People love you and people hate you. Some support your audacity while others bemoan your perceived trickery. None of these people really know you, including myself. I don’t think most people actually know you at all. What I do know is you prefer it that way.

The days when you were known as “Regal,” an awkward white girl who was a regular at Sydney hip-hop clubs wildly aspiring to be a rapper, are long gone. They’re nothing in comparison to the firestorm you’re experiencing now. We’re about to see how you ultimately handle the highs and lows of being at the top of the music world and boy, are you experiencing them at their extreme (I won’t even touch on this Hefe Wine mess).

If rap is what you want to do, do it. Most doubt you’re in it for the long run so prove ’em wrong. Much more important than holding onto your accent, hold on to that Aussie trait instilled in us from birth: if you’re getting caught up in hype and hysteria, pull your head in and get back to work. You once told me, “The American dream just means anything is possible for anyone, no matter how crazy your dream seems.” Don’t ever let anyone make your dream feel crazy, Iggy.

~Simone

Oxygen’s “Sisterhood Of Hip Hop” TV Show Debuts Tomorrow!

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Sisterhood Of Hip Hop is the long-awaited series showcasing one of the toughest jobs there is: that of the female MC.

The story goes that Executive Producer T.I. was given a reality show for the “First Lady” of his Grand Hustle label, Iggy Azalea, who turned it down. Not one to waste an opportunity, Tip brought together a group of Iggy’s fellow rappers Nyemiah Supreme, Brianna Perry, Diamond, Siya and Bia and changed the show’s theme to young women making their way through the industry.

As an ardent supporter of all things female in hip-hop, I’ve supported and known three out of the five women for many years. I’ll be closely watching Brianna, Diamond and Nyemiah as they deservedly become household names, and I’m excited to get to know Siya and Bia.

Tune in to Sisterhood Of Hip Hop when it debuts tomorrow night on Oxygen at 9pm ET.

Are You Ready To “Chime For Change” With Beyoncé, Salma Hayek & More For Women’s Empowerment?

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What better way to finish up Women’s History Month than with a powerful new event for us to celebrate?

Chime For Change is the brainchild of Gucci’s fearless frontwoman Frida Giannini in partnership with Salma Hayek-Pinault and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (the latter two whose surnames reflect their stance on equal rights for the ladies). It is a global campaign aimed at raising funds and awareness in support of projects for girls and women around the world.

“I am proud to be joining the growing international movement on behalf of girls and women around the world,” says Hayek-Pinault. “I believe that by working together we can change the course of history to ensure that girls and women are empowered to realize their potential and thrive.”

Earlier today it was announced during a press conference in London Beyoncé will headline a concert there on Saturday June 1 in support of the campaign, with guest performers including Rita Ora, Florence and the Machine, Ellie Goulding and Australia’s own Iggy Azalea. Dubbed “The Sound Of Change Live,” the concert will also show inspirational short films and stories highlighting women’s global issues.

“Our goal is to call for change for girls and women in the loudest voice possible,” said Mrs Knowles-Carter. “I am excited for us to come together on June 1 to bring the issues of education, health and justice for girls and women to the world stage.”

Tickets go on sale at 9am tomorrow, Northern Hemisphere time (Wednesday March 27). There will also be the option to choose which charity ticket sales will be donated to as Gucci is graciously covering the show’s expenses.

Boss Lady Presents “Go Down Under” Volume One (Mixed By DJ Leon Smith)

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When I landed in Sydney just before Christmas last year, I was in the car with my mum and sister driving home from the airport and as we stopped at a set of lights on the Pacific Highway, I turned and saw billboards advertising The Best Of Australian Hip-Hop compilation. As I read over the names, I wasn’t surprised to see the same artists listed that have been promoted to the forefront of the genre for many, many years.

Having been home for just over three months and heading back to New York next week, I made it my mission to deliver a mixtape that featured not only the established artists in the Australia and New Zealand region I most admire, but a plethora of new talent whose voices aren’t being heard loud enough. I enlisted my dear friend DJ Leon Smith to work his magic with our careful track selections and I’m extremely proud to present the first volume of our newly created “Go Down Under” series (named after the category on BossLady.tv, of course).

American Dreamin’: Iggy Azalea [Special Interview]

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Iggy Azalea is a young woman from Australia with her heart set on making it in America. This American Dreamin series was started for myself and people just like her, to document our journey of chasing a life and career in the United States. Currently residing between America and England as she records her debut album The New Classic, Iggy’s the definition of not judging a book by its cover. The 22-year-old has defied stereotype and convention to be the first female to feature on XXL magazine’s Freshmen Issue cover and be signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label, in the process becoming Australia’s most commercial hip-hop face ever. Yeah, she’s blonde. Her body is nuts. Not to mention fiercely intelligent, outspoken and talented. Iggy has all the ingredients to be destined for success but none of those qualities would have meant a damn thing if she didn’t do one thing: focus on her dream.

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You first left Australia when you were 16 years old and have pretty much lived in America since. What kind of visa were you traveling on in those early days?
“I was lucky enough to have a stepfather who worked for the airline Qantas as a flight attendant and he would travel to LA weekly. I was living in America under a visa waiver until 2012 [editor’s note: more than six years total] and would travel home every three months with him, get on the plane and come right back on his flight the following week. Fortunately for me I was able to get away with this because I would cross the border with my ‘dad’ and have a staff ticket that would show me leaving at the same time as him. Once I’d get in the country I’d just change my ticket so that I could stay until the 90th day on my visa waiver. Staff tickets are only airport taxes, so it’s very cheap to travel this way. If I hadn’t of had a family member with this job I can’t see how I would have afforded the travel or avoided being deported for that many years. I like to think it was fated that way.”

What work visa are you currently on?
“I’m currently on a five-year O visa. This was extremely difficult for me to get as I’d been earning money illegally in America for so many years, and as my profile rose in the media it became pretty hard to deny. Thankfully they turned a blind eye to that and approved me, but I did have to do charity work and other things to help sway them to look the other way. Eventually I crossed the border from USA to Canada and obtained my visa there. I cried when I got it. A visa meant more to me than my own label deal!”

How stressful did the visa process get at times?
“Extremely stressful. For years it’s been the biggest worry of my life and something I was constantly thinking and plotting on. It feels like you have 90 days to live and you have to do all you can before then in case you don’t make it back over the border the next time you travel. Having that mentality I think made me work a lot harder than others to chase my dreams and ultimately I’m thankful I had that fear to motivate me.”

What kind of advice can you share with others inspired by your immigration journey?
“Anything is possible. I didn’t graduate high school and wanted to get a major label deal in America as a rapper! Seems impossible, but I did it. It took me seven years and I never gave up hope. All I can say is don’t give up, work VERY hard and SMART to achieve the things you want. And don’t cut corners. A lot of people marry for visas; I don’t think this is healthy. If it’s meant for you in time you will attain what you want the RIGHT WAY. Don’t look to things like false marriages as a way to cut corners.”

What’s your definition of the American dream?
“I think the American dream just means anything is possible for anyone—no matter how crazy your dream seems.”

Boss Lady Presents Woman On Top Mixtape Volume 1

Boss Lady Presents: Woman On Top is the first volume in a series celebrating female artists in hip-hop. This year was pivotal for femcees emerging into the mainstream with brash confidence, a clearly diverse sound and a shared view on how to move their careers forward in unison without playing into the media’s incessant attempts to drive them apart.

I have an incredible amount of love for every artist (and their teams) featured on this historic set for supporting my Woman On Top vision immediately and understanding that pushing each other forward takes nothing away from their individual successes. Special shout out to DJ Adore, who worked tirelessly on perfecting the mix and is a true star in the making. Thank you to my team Amber Ravenel (Women On The Move) and DJ “Big Kush” Jay (Team Invasion) for making my projects a reality. Not a bad way to close out 2012 and usher in 2013!

Exclusive: Iggy Azalea “Boss Lady” (Woman On Top Mixtape Preview)

Following on from Snow Tha Product‘s “She Ain’t Me” and Rapsody‘s “Most Poetical,” here’s the third (and final) exciting preview from my upcoming Woman On Top mixtape.

This one’s from my fellow Australian Iggy Azalea called (what else?) “Boss Lady.” Iggy’s currently working on her debut album The New Classic (due sometime next year) and performed last night on VH1 Divas.

Woman On Top features original tracks from some of my favorite artists and shows the musical diversity the ladies of hip-hop are bringing right now, mixed by DJ Adore. It drops Christmas Eve (December 24) right here on BossLady.tv.

Iggy Azalea On Invasion Radio (Hip Hop Nation) [Parts 1,2,3]

Iggy Azalea joined myself and DJ Kno It All (filling in for DJ Green Lantern, who called in during the show) down in Atlanta for this week’s Invasion Radio on Hip Hop Nation.

In Part One, Iggy talks about her current tour with Rita Ora, the size of her “booty,” how her most recent release TRAPGOLD was a return to “happy Iggy” and more:

In Part Two, Iggy and Green Lantern participate in a heated debate over chicken, Iggy describes her first time eating macaroni and cheese plus her love for Nas‘s Life Is Good album:

In Part Three, Iggy and Boss Lady talk about what Iggy’s learned in her first year of fame, her mother’s advice on business, if her race is still a popular a topic and more:

Iggy Azalea Releases Trap Gold Mixtape

Iggy Azalea might be the most successful hip-hop artist we see come out of Australia for a long time.

Today the blonde bombshell follows up her Ignorant Art tape and Glory EP with TrapGold, a mixtape the 22-year-old seems just as excited about as her dedicated fans are.

TrapGold is a project I created, to bring me back the feeling I used to get before I meet those men in suits who tried to find every way to suck the life and magic out of me,” Iggy explains. “It’s the fun and cockiness of being young and feeling bulletproof. It’s winding down your car window, extending your middle finger out and up into the sun as those men behind their desks stare down at you from their high-rise offices… “FU*K EM!”

Look out for Iggy to join Rita Ora on her five-date US tour starting October 23 in Santa Ana, CA.

Iggy Azalea Calls New Glory EP Her Most “Mainstream” Work

Mullumbimby’s own Iggy Azalea dropped her first EP this week, a “traditional” rap set called Glory.

What the music lacks in volume (there are just six tracks) it makes up for in star power, with guest features from Iggy’s Grand Hustle boss T.I., Mike Posner, B.o.B and Pusha T. Who’d ever have thought an Australian rapper—one from a tiny country town and a female, no less—would be going toe to toe with some of the music’s best? Iggy’s dubbed her sound (and her upcoming debut album) The New Classic but before she delivers that project, the statuesque blonde (now officially signed to Wilhemina Models) will release TrapGold, a mixtape with producer Diplo.