The year is only a week and a half old, but we've already got our first certifiable audio trainwreck: Last night Iggy Azalea made her return to recorded music with a "buzz track" for her "ratz" called "Azillion." Where to begin? The production sounds like a wintry mix of Madonna and Diplo's "Bitch I'm Madonna" and Azealia Banks's "212," the latter, especially egregious since Iggy declared the long-simmering Azalea/Azealia beef moot in light of her chart successes. If you're out of her league, why you biting? If she doesn't matter, why you shading her?
Worse than the production is Iggy's diction, which the Washington Post recently lauded for its "sophisticated understanding of how black rappers speak." Our resident AAVE expert's opening bars go:
"Headed for a zillion, coming thru a billion
Gotta keep it trill-ion, what is a million?
What the fuck is a million?
Gotta stack bread on ride to the ceil-ion"
She pronounces all the "-illion" words the same way Roc-a-fella Records alumnus Amil would her nickname "Amillion," which is unfortunate because Iggy sounded like a down-under facsimile of the All Money Is Legal diva well before appropriating her rap name in song. Azalea can't even claim the Texas twist on "trillion" because Bun B and T-Pain made "Trillionaire" five years ago. The beat is a knockoff, the concept is doubly derivative, but the true crime of "Azillion" is a line-to-line inability to make the lyric sheet pop.
At best, Iggy Azalea raps this song like someone who wrote these words without considering how they would sound uttered out loud. She's rapping fast, and the lines rhyme at the end, but "Azillion" is labored and frequently unintelligible, amateurishly nonsensical at best. At one point in verse two, I think she says she gets money "from December to the motherfuckin' Igguary," a tragically ill-considered situating of an "n" sound next to an "igg" sound for a Caucasian rapper who should know better, and then says "Raw shit, salmonella, got it fuckin' buried," a worse line because you have to be in pretty poor shape to croak from salmonella poisoning, an infection that generally goes away on its own without a doctor's supervision.
"Azillion" is especially frustrating viewed through the prism of last year's return of Macklemore. Mack and Iggy were 2014's reigning pop rap sensations, to the chagrin of many a rapper and rap fan, and each dealt with staunch criticism for soaking up sales and accolades without bringing anything back to hip-hop culture at large. The heat changed Macklemore, and in his next few track drops, he strove rather nobly to leverage the expectations of pop stardom with service to hip-hop culture and history. Iggy, on the other hand, played her hand like the pharaoh of Exodus, hardening to criticism after every dig, flipping first on Azealia Banks, then rap legend Q-Tip, and ultimately, her own mentor and hood pass adminisrator T.I. instead of working to grasp what is so infuriating to people of color about her stardom.
Iggy Azalea capping off huge chart success and heated backlash with this pat party pâté is a waste of a comeback. It's not infuriatingly catchy like her best tracks or calculatedly motivational like the thoughtful ones, and really, it's barely even ironic fun. Iggy's got a lot to prove after a disintegrated headlining tour and diminishing chart returns, and "Azillion" isn't helping. If she ever hopes to see abillion, it can't be like this.