Beware, the following contains traces of nuts. GQ is sat crosslegged on the footpath, our eyes drawn to the signage across the road. ‘Advanced Cool Rooms for Hire’ it reads, neatly printed on the side of a trailer. It’s in good nick, parked parallel to an empty marquee. In front stands a redundant traffic cone, the reflector peeled from around its waist. Further afield but within earshot, three men are throwing around an American football. Golf buggies and taxis occasionally drive by, abiding by the 10km/h speed limit. Then, more impressive, a red Ford F-160 stops. Likely a 1960 model, all souped up and shiny. By our feet are three cigarette butts. We pick up one. ‘VP 115’ is printed a millimetre above the filter. As we place it down, a man walks past with a film camera in his hand. Suddenly, “Hi, how you going?” We look up. An X Factor finalist has emerged from the studio building we’re leant against, to greet her father (we presume) in a waiting car. These are the things we noticed when waiting to talk to Iggy Azalea. It’s a pleasant spring afternoon in Sydney. Two birds – masked lapwings to be precise – occupy Azalea’s vacant car space. We assume, naively, the birds aren’t hers. The purpose of our visit is to speak to GQ’S Woman of the Year 2016. But there’s been some miscommunication and the woman we’re waiting for has left for the day. “Can you come back tomorrow?” This is yet another entry in a sequence of scrawlings about finding time to congratulate the Aussie rapper on her title. First, there was grand talk of riding horseback together somewhere in the Californian desert. Jodhpurs would be provided; Azalea would drive us in her Jeep. Change of plan, meet
at a theme park as it’s indicative of a ‘Team Azalea’ day off. A sky dive or “anything adrenaline-fuelled” are also proposed. Next, how about eight hours in LA, flying in and out? Back to the drawing board. Dinner at Sydney’s best pie shop, Harry’s Cafe de Wheels? “Somewhere more private?” One of the restaurants on Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Wharf? “Sorry, the studio is best, does that suit?” And so it is the studio – well, the second time we turn up. It was in June that we first met with Azalea. Same show, different studio – for what is her longest stint back in her ‘home’ country. She left, aged 16, to follow Tupac and Outkast-inspired dreams that were somewhat unsuited to her sleepy upbringing in Mullumbimby, northern NSW. Down a quiet corridor leading to the La-based rapper’s dressing room, Azalea was 20 minutes from making her debut on The X Factor panel, alongside singer-cum-caricature Adam Lambert and Guy Sebastian, reality TV’S everyman. Back then, the 26-year-old appeared ready, eating zucchini strips from a bowl, cleavage perfect (a match for any ’90s lads mags). The conversation was all casual “heys” and smiles, Azalea’s persona not the frosty one that media outlets love to flood the internet with. She offered zucchini, we nibbled, and then she laid the first utterance that made us understand why those same media outlets secured traffic. “I’d like my award to be ‘Vagina of the Year’. I can picture it sat on my piano at home.” Today, second (well, third, really) time round and Azalea is sat opposite, surprised at just how bad she is at word association. Fame? “Me? I don’t know.” Beneath an embroidered bomber that could be from Gucci or ebay, her cropped white T-shirt has something like ‘Be with the Team’ written on it. We can’t stare long enough to confirm, primarily because her line of sight sits behind large, white tortoiseshell sunglasses. There’s a lot of junk food in her dressing room – cups full of Curly Wurlys, packets of Doritos and jars of raspberry-shaped lollies. Through the blind, we can see her car space is devoid of any resting birds. “I think it’s been a pretty good year,” she says with an easy smile. On the same day that we speak, ex-fiance, NBA hotshot Nick Young, welcomed his second child into the world. It’s late October. Azalea and Young split mid June. Do the maths. This year, as well as “parting ways with the person I planned my entire future with”, Azalea’s dog, Jelli, had knee surgery and Macklemore further embroiled her in rap’s race wars (after the whole Azealia Banks feud), referencing her in ‘White Privilege II’. She was also on the receiving end of abuse from Beyoncé fans after tweeting, ‘You would not be down if I started calling all black men ‘deshawns’ ... do you know how many times ppl have called me BECKY? It didn’t have any kind of positive intention behind it.’ Regardless of Beyoncé’s choice of lyrics (and Azalea’s right to call her out), surely Solange was clear enough in that 2014 lift – no one messes with Queen Bey. Away from the headlines and the haters, Azalea has had a good year. In March, she set up Azalea Street Productions and by July she was signing a deal with NBC Universal to develop and produce shows. “I felt really happy, it was another thing to tick off, to feel like I’m moving forward,” she says. “I have like 11 shows in production. I EP them, and develop them – some things I make up the ideas to, but there’s a fuck load of people involved.” More positives. We discover Azalea’s birthday wish of getting a dinosaur fossil came true, but more on that later, because 2016 also saw her finish sophomore album, Digital Distortion, due out early 2017. “I really enjoyed doing it but I had so many other things going on while I was recording that I felt like I had bigger fish to fry. People can often fixate on their sophomore album. I was fixating on other shit.” While she won’t disclose any collaborations, and refuses to accept any praise for its completion, Azalea is in good spirits about the album that follows 2014’s The New Classic – the multi-platinum effort that skyrocketed her to fame. And after a shy, monosyllabic start, now we can’t stop her talking. “The thing I like about producing my [TV] shows, maybe a little more than music, is with music, I know it’s going to get shitted on and I might take it personally, because the product is me. Whereas the shows, even though it’s still my creative ideas, the product isn’t me. So when people criticise it, there is a disconnection. I can have a little bit more fun, say or do things that I might not necessarily do in music, because I don’t have to be solely responsible. Do you know what I mean?” Actually, we do. Call her what you like, (“Everyone thinks I’m a c*nt”), but there’s a vulnerability and an honesty to Azalea that she’s rarely credited for. In a world where freedom of speech is ever-important, is it not the freedom to speak honestly that we should be championing? Whether it’s what people do or don’t want to hear, Azalea says it how it is. She speaks her mind. And so here – on our second excursion to this central Sydney studio (“I was at the US Consulate yesterday to update my visa”), we implore her to be no different. In all its unabridged, uncensored glory, this is the Iggy Azalea we stand to celebrate.
“Of course I like Australia, but I don’t know why people get so offended as it’s not my home. I don’t miss Australia, not because there aren’t great things about it. Emigrating when you’re a kid is a defining moment of your life, where you’re about to become an adult. That shapes you, I doubt you really understand the feeling.”
“It’s the best policy, unless you’re a performer and the product that you’re selling is yourself, and then it’s fucking not. I don’t abide by that, because I say what I want and I think it’s more important to be human than a good product. A good product doesn’t have opinions. That’s why so many people want to buy headphones, because headphones don’t talk.”
Space and Dinosaurs
“Someone said the other day, ‘Basically you’re like a nine-year-old boy, only interested in space and dinosaurs.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, thanks for listing all my interests.’ Recently, I bought some dinosaur teeth off a paleontologist, not ebay – a T-rex tooth and a half dinosaur’s skin. They cost $20,000 and they’re definitely dinosaur teeth. It’s cool to think that something that’s been here for so long, and was in someone’s mouth chomping up dinosaurs, is now in my handbag.”
“It’s weird to be normal now, right? There are varying degrees of normality depending on your level of insanity and environment. I’d be classified as normal for the environment I’m in but if you threw me into regular life, I may seem insane.”
“I’ve found it’s good not to have it because I have more conversations and feel like I’m present and enjoy stuff more.”
“It would be cool to be Salvador Dali, because he was pretty ridiculous and he didn’t give very many fucks. And to have that moustache. Dali is a pretty good name too. He was always making penis jokes, I feel.”
“I woke up two days ago and decided I needed a kookaburra. You’re not allowed to own them here, but it’s totally legal in America. It would be fun to have something that sounds like it’s having a seizure every morning. I guess it has something to do with the fact that they’re Australian – the sound does take me back a little.”
Cotton boxer shorts, approx. $65, by Hanro at Mr Porter.