Australian rap star and controversy specialist Iggy Azalea played to a sold out Neptune Theatre last night, packing it almost entirely full of groups of young women decked out in trendy “urban” fashions and ecstatic gay men in similar attire or in drag.
One blonde teenage-looking girl sporting a tank top reading “GANGSTA RAP MADE ME DO IT” seemed especially indicative of the young, plugged-in hypebeast fans. There were a lot of selfies and Snapchats being taken.
Despite an awkward break between an opening set by her DJ, Wizz Kid, and Iggy Azalea’s entrance, the audience kept the “turnt” levels set to “up” in anticipation of their heroine, whose popularity is reflected in widespread radio-play and million-YouTube-view counts in the two years since she jumped into the rap public eye. She is the first woman to earn a spot on XXL Magazine’s annual “Freshmen List.”
When she finally emerged from her elaborate, Monster-Energy-Drink-sponsored stage setup – a South Beach-looking hotel front reading “Hotel Iggy” — she was wearing a skimpy onesie with three Al Pacino-as-Tony-Montana faces printed on it. The outfit showed off her much-discussed butt. Fake or real — some have wondered — it was impressive to see in real life.
Joining her were two backup singers and four dancers wearing shorts, with their stripper-like names (Bunny, Kiki, Candi and Cherry) written across the behinds.
Beyond appearances, however, Azalea’s songs were pretty derivative. The beats stayed in the safe, popular zone of EDM-pop-trap, all bellowing dance floor bass hits and fast hi-hats, even some pop-dubstep whomps in the mix, with plenty of breakdowns and dramatic buildups/drops geared to get people jumping.
Her lyrics were standard, diva-MC boasts and flaunts, somehow delivered in a New York-sounding accent, despite her Australian heritage. But she performed her songs well, rapping sharply and on beat, getting the crowd involved (they seemed to already know every word), strutting around like a bossed-up cross between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus. It was a polished and professional set.
But even so, it was all about the spectacle. There were stripper poles, tons of twerking, an interlude of Grace Jones and Eddie Murphy’s infamous dinner table conversation from “Boomerang,” fans dancing onstage, giant champagne bottles that shot out streamers and a huge explosion of gold confetti to end the show. The crowd loved it.
Azalea had no opening act, just her DJ, who played a sloppily-mixed set of EDM-bass beats and Top-40 “trap”-leaning rap hits from last year – Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” Kanye West’s “Mercy,” French Montana’s “Ain’t Worried About Nothin,” Jay-Z and an unprintable one from Kanye – with a couple random mid-2000s “throwbacks” mixed in – Soulja Boy’s “Crank That,” Lil Jon’s “Get Low,” Ludacris’ “Move.”
The packed house ate it up, dancing hard and yelling along, as one of the songs asked, “turn down for what?”