The Australian MC Iggy Azalea's rise to fame was an unlikely one. Born to hippie parents, the 22-year-old is from a continent that's far from synonymous with hip-hop. Azalea, née Amethyst Amelia Kelly, also happens to be white and female. But the rising hip-hop star regularly brings together everyone from drag queens to punks to hooded tough guys to 14-year-old Valley girls at her shows.
In September of 2011, Azalea wowed both the hip-hop community and legions of freaks alike when she released her sexually explicit, Southern-drenched Ignorant Art mixtape. "All the people that listen to me, they're all kind of misfits for whatever reason," says Azalea.
After speaking with Azalea shortly prior to her first sold-out New York show and preceding her much anticipated Glory EP and The New Classic long-player for T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint, it's clear why she stands out among a crowded marketplace of emerging indie rappers. Outside of being the first female to grace XXL's "Freshman Class" cover and her speedy, double-time, machine-gun flow, Azalea's often crass, raunchy lyrics and song titles, like her single "Pu$$y," are rooted in empowerment rather than shock value. "I think sex is a crucial element in music," says Azalea. "Sex is one of our most basic instincts -- and it sparks interest. It's a good thing as long as I'm in control of it."
Azalea moved to Miami when she was 16 and lived in Houston and Atlanta before settling in Los Angeles. She began rapping at the age of 14, and cites local refugee-camp ciphers -- rap circles -- as one of her earliest influences. "I mean, I was sucky, but that doesn't stop someone from getting in the cipher circle," Azalea says. "Everyone starts out as crap no matter what."
It's been eight years since Azalea began rapping and she's gone from "crap" to, well, the opposite of crap. And unlike many of her contemporaries, Azalea is involved in nearly every aspect of her music -- from production to viral marketing to styling to video treatments. "I don't ever want to be one of those idiot people that says 'I just make music,'" says Azalea. "I want to micromanage everything. I want to be responsible for all parts of it. My managers hate me." The misfits clearly do not.
Stylist: Andrew Mukamal
Hair: Jakob Sherwood for Tigi Catwalk Session Series at Artists by NEXT
Makeup: Porsche Cooper for www.porschecooper.com
Photographer's assistant: Lauren Caulk
Special thanks to Chelsea Daylight Studios
Iggy wears a coat, dress, leggings and necklace by Blumarine, jacket by Christian Dior, sunglasses by Emporio Armani and earrings by Elizabeth Cole.