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CD: Iggy Azalea - Survive the Summer | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Iggy Azalea - Survive the Summer

CD: Iggy Azalea - Survive the Summer

Australian-American good-times rapper sings the cultural appropriation blues

'It's a really grisly pastiche'

In basic creative terms of the ingredients that make it up, this is not a bad record. Hip hop production is in extraordinary period right now, and the six tracks on this EP have the best production that money can buy: woozy, narcotic, digitally surreal, vast in scale, perfect for heatwave listening as they boom and slither their way along, every one built around microscopic but lethally memorably bleeping hooks. “Tokyo Snow Trip” and “Kawasaki” in particular are extraordinary.

The lyrics, too, in theory at least, work on this instant level: they're about money, stripping, weed, swagger, handbags... nothing complicated, but standard subject matter. And for anyone insisting that hip hop is somehow devalued by facile party lyrics, you'd do well to remind yourself that the genre began with “yes yes y'all, to the beat y'all”, and went mainstream with “hotel, motel, holiday inn”. Dumb fun always had, and still has, potency.

But – and it's the biggest of buts – the Australian-born Iggy Azalea's rapping is still awful. And worse than that, it's a really grisly pastiche. I certainly wouldn't pretend to be any expert in black American vernacular, but even I can hear that her slang and stilted drawl are just insultingly crass. The history of music is riddled with people imitating others' styles, getting it wrong and inadvertently stumbling onto something fresh – but this isn't Mick Jagger or Eminem, rather it's closer to the ghastly pseudo-Jamaican accent that Sting and dozens of others like him used to put on in the early 80s: pure affectation, with neither any real understanding of the dialect that's being imitated, nor the confidence to take it somewhere more individualistic à la Jagger. The presence of half-decent rappers Tyga and Wiz Khalifa here, even as they're just dialling it in, throws into relief how strained Azalea is, while a distant Wu-Tang Clan sample in “Kream” rubs salt into the wound. There are thousands of hip hop records released each year with amazing beats, don't waste your time on this one.

@joemuggs

This isn't Mick Jagger or Eminem, rather it's closer to the ghastly pseudo-Jamaican accent that Sting used to put on in the early 80s

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