The once-rising artist Iggy Azalea has taken a hiatus from the music scene, but people are left to wonder why she left in the first place. With a handful of successful hits, it seems odd for an artist who climbed the ladder to musical fame to vanish without a trace.
Rapper and hip-hop artist Azalea moved from Sydney, Australia, to the United States when she was just 16 years old to pursue a career in music. She first earned public recognition after releasing music videos for “Two Times” and other original songs on YouTube.
After the release of her first full-length project, a mixtape titled “Ignorant Art,” Azalea signed a recording contract with Grand Hustle Records, owned by American rapper T.I.
Azalea’s rise to fame continued with the success of her debut studio album, “The New Classic.” The album peaked among the top five of several charts worldwide and made Azalea the first non-American female rapper to reach the top of the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. She said she made the album “with the intent to make people question and redefine old ideals.”
The artist also felt this album helped her sort out and establish an overall sound and direction to know what artists “would make for a dynamic collaboration.” Such collaborations are what really gained the Australian-born rapper acknowledgment in the music industry.
Preceding her debut album came Azalea’s first chart-topping single “Fancy” featuring British singer Charli XCX. Following the success of “Fancy,” Azalea then collaborated with Ariana Grande on her single “Problem,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 while “Fancy” was at No. 1.
With these two hit singles, she joined legendary rock band The Beatles as the only acts to rank at No.’s 1 and 2 simultaneously for their first two Hot 100 entries. Azalea’s name only continued as a reoccurring feature on the charts as she followed up her first two hits with her fifth single “Black Widow” later that year.
But the rapper’s career began to fail with a long line of well-documented indiscretions. Azalea’s fall from fame and credibility began with her ongoing feud with Azealia Banks, who has always been vocal about her critiques regarding Azalea.
As an African-American rapper, Banks denounced Azalea’s past Grammy nomination in the rap category, saying “Grammys are supposed to be awards for artists’ excellence. Iggy Azalea is not excellence.” Banks told MTV News that she has a problem with a white artist saying their music is hip-hop and then “trying to put it up against black culture.”
The feud took off with Azalea’s Twitter response to the “Chasing Time” rapper who accused her of culture appropriation: “There are many black artists succeeding in all genres. The reason you haven’t is because of your piss poor attitude, your inability to be responsible for your own mistakes, bullying others, the inability to be humble or have self-control.”
Azalea continued her Twitter rant with, “Make it racial! Make it political! Make it whatever but I guarantee it won’t make you likable and that’s why you’re crying on the radio.”
Hip-hop legend Q-Tip and many others were quick to condemn Azalea’s response as “tone-deaf comments” about racial and societal issues. The “Black Widow” rapper has also been criticized for racially insensitive lyrics, including one that compares herself to a runaway slave.
After Azalea’s feud with Banks led to numerous other Twitter battles and public slams of Britney Spears and designer Steve Madden, the rapper’s team called for an intervention.
The Aussie-born rapper apparently has spent the last few years fighting mental illness and anger issues. Azalea’s mental state has prevented her from releasing new music and created hesitations from both artists and labels to work with her.
When the management team came to her for an intervention, Azalea decided to seek professional help for her mental health. They addressed the star’s anger issues and said, “We think you’re really talented and you can go to the studio and make hits all day, but if someone says something about you and you have a reaction it could ruin a branding deal.”
The management team told Azalea that she needed to speak with medical professionals to ensure that she is mentally prepared to come out with new music. The rapper told E! News that, initially, she did not like the idea of being sent away.
Ultimately, Azalea’s close friend Demi Lovato inspired her to go. The performer told Billboard that she considered Lovato’ s own experience prioritizing mental health and the impact it could have on her own well-being. Azalea said the fast-growing pressure of the spotlight made her feel “physically ill,” trauma which pushed her further away from the industry.
Her representatives confirmed Azalea underwent “intensive therapy” at a two-week mental retreat in Arizona. She released details of her treatment on Twitter, revealing she had been suffering from depression.
“I’ve never really sat down and had an honest conversation with professional people,” Azalea explained. “It was good to say something to somebody who could give me the tools and information on how to make my life manageable when I’m feeling those things. I’m glad I went.”
Azalea told MTV News she feels optimistic as she moves into the future and into new music. She did say, however, that she hopes the music industry will create programs to help celebrities deal with the pressure of fame.
“I really wish there was more of an infrastructure within the music industry to make sure that the artists have people they can go to,” Azalea said. “Like physical therapists in sports. The teams have people looking out for [players], that make sure they’re okay in every element, and the music business doesn’t have that — they just throw you out there.”
The once chart-topping hip-hop artist plans to come back with her sophomore album “Surviving the Summer.” With disappointing streaming numbers on her 2018 single “Savior,” Azalea has taken to social media to call on “Azaleans” for support.
The album features more personal lyrics than what fans are used to hearing from Azalea. The rapper said she wrote songs such as “Savior” in a heavy period of her life, where she had a lot of changes, including a big breakup and a suffering career.
Azalea said fans can expect more honesty from her and her records in the future. She acknowledges that she will still have ups and downs but says the whole point of “Surviving the Summer” is the turbulences everyone goes through — “the juxtaposition in the highs and burnouts.”