Album Review: Iggy Azalea’s ‘In My Defense’ Was Worth The Wait
Iggy Azalea achieved exactly what she set out to do with In My Defense. Her long-awaited sophomore LP comes less than a year after announcing her freedom from a contract with Island Records. She celebrates that newfound independence by creating the album she always wanted to make. “I’ve made songs over the most EDM beats, trap shit, indie rock samples, pop etc. I’ve shown versatility,” the rapper reminded fans. “IMD is about shifting back to creating for myself rather than trying to accommodate ‘something for everyone.'”
Iggy knows that may be polarizing and frankly she doesn’t care. The newly-liberated hitmaker has rarely sounded as confident as she does here. The LP works as a fitting sequel to last year’s Survive The Summer in that it signifies a return to the aggressive, highly-sexualized sound of bangers like “Kream.” It’s the sort of album that will be on high rotation in strip clubs and gay bars for the rest of the summer.
Comprised of 12 tracks, In My Defense houses the full spectrum of bangers. It clocks in at just over a half hour of listening, but every second of the lean run-time is well utilized. With few exceptions, the majority was crafted alongside J. White Did It. He and Iggy obviously have perfect chemistry. They made that clear straight out the gate with “Sally Walker.” The twerkable anthem is built around a straightforward beat. What sets it apart is the clever interpolation of a childhood rhyme.
“Little Sally Walker, walking down the street,” Iggy chants. This version is significantly more grown than the original, though. Here, the titular character does her thang, which entails bending over and making it wobble. Paired with a solid video, it’s currently the LP’s breakout hit and the first in a string of singles. Next up is “Started,” which sees the rapper coming for blood by bragging about her accomplishments. “I started from the bottom, and now I’m rich,” she crows. “I started to say sorry, but fuck that shit.”
There’s a strong thematic divide between the two, and the latest single “Fuck It Up” falls perfectly in the middle. Featuring a verse from Kash Doll, it’s another raunchy dance track. But there are some words of wisdom tucked into the mix. That includes the gem “getting money feel way better than busting a nut.” Please start engraving the Grammy for Song Of The Year immediately. Meanwhile, the Lil Yachty-assisted “Hoemita” appears to be tailored for strippers. You can practically see dollar bills raining down as Iggy chants the chorus.
“Face down, ass up. Back it up, drop it.” Then comes her next command: “Drop it down low, then pop it.” Iggy calls down a feature from Juicy J on the equally twerkable “Freak Of The Week.” This one includes another demanding chorus: “Throw that cash. Bounce that ass.” It also interpolates Tear Da Club Up Thugs’ “Slob On My Knob” and seems destined for a single treatment moving forward. That takes us to bedroom bangers “Just Wanna” and “Pussy Pop.” The former cleverly interpolates elements of Superbad and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It.”
It sounds like a recipe for disaster, I know. But Iggy somehow makes it work so the end result is ridiculously fun and riddled with outrageously eye-popping lines such as “like a skeleton, we need to be boning.” Lyrical genius, folks. The latter closes out the album and is possibly the most obscene of the bunch. Iggy whispers the NSFW chorus over aggressive beats, and you can’t help but hope the brief gem continues into infinity.
Now I’d like to turn attention to a trio I would describe as frivolous in the best way – “Spend It,” “Comme Des Garcons” and “Big Bag.” All three see Iggy bragging about her luxurious lifestyle. “Comme Des Garcons,” a personal favorite, is particularly effective. “Outfit by Dior. This hot bitch on all fours,” she throatily coos over murky production courtesy of Rico Beats. “Shoes, they got hearts on. That’s Comme Des Garcons. I got drip, I got sauce.” J. White returns for “Spend It,” which is just as catchy. “If I want it, I’ma buy it,” the luxe diva reminds us.
With the last two songs – “Thanks I Get” and “Clap Back” – Iggy builds out her legacy and shows her claws to naysayers. The former opens the LP and goes particularly hard. “I’m the one that kept it cool with all you bitches. I’m the one that had to show you how to grind,” she reminds us. “And this the mother fucking thanks I get?” It’s a timely anthem considering her glaring underrepresentation at the 2019 VMAs. The latter is just as ferocious.
Not only that, but it debunks several rumors while simultaneously flaunting her current situation. “Give me 50 feet, bitch. Back, back. I got time today, I’m finna clap back,” she ominously warns. Some of the lines, particularly ones about her experiences with race as a white rapper, are bound to further complicate her case. It’s refreshing to see Iggy speaking candidly, but topics like that would be better handled with an introspective moment instead of walloping beats.
That shines light on the one thing In My Defense lacks. The tracklist really is wall-to-wall bangers. It’s great for a night of throwing back drinks, having a great time and making mistakes but would benefit from a little more soul. Something in line with last year’s vulnerable Total Ape collab “In A Haze” or the confessional “Don’t Need Y’all” would be an appropriate counterbalance to the icy excesses.
What we get sees the rapper riding the highs of life. It’s raucous and unrepentant fun. A comedown would only provide a little more depth. That’s the good thing for Iggy, though. Thanks to her status as an independent artist, she can deliver a follow-up at any moment with no oversight or unexpected delays. In My Defense celebrates that and positions her as an artist in her prime. It’s clever, aggressive, one hell of a good time and sure to keep us waiting for even more. All of that makes it exactly the record that she should have released.