What Do Iggy Azalea and The Beatles Have in Common?
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea has continued her Billboard chart domination, securing a record that hasn’t been accomplished since The Beatles did it back when they first came to America, in 1964. Azalea’s first two charting singles, “Fancy” featuring Charlie XCX and Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” on which Azalea has a featured verse, currently occupy the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the Billboard Hot 100.
The last time the same artist occupied the top two spots on the Billboard charts with their first two Hot 100 singles was in February 1964 after The Beatles gave their iconic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, after which “I Want to Hold Your Hand” rose to No. 1 and “She Loves You” was No. 2.
That’s not the only record Azalea is smashing. After her debut album, The New Classic, saw her become the first white female to nab a No. 1 rap record, her ascension into the top spot on the singles chart also makes her the fourth female solo rapper ever to hit No. 1, per Billboard.
Lauryn Hill was the first, with “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998, followed by Lil’ Kim in 2001 for “Lady Marmalade” and Shawnna in 2003 for her verse on Ludacris’s “Stand Up.” It’s worth noting that Lil’ Kim and Shawnna were essentially contributing to other artists’ songs for their No. 1 hits, while Azalea’s “Fancy” is her own, featuring pop star Charlie XCX on the hook. Billboard also noted that Azalea is just the third woman to occupy the No. 1 and No. 2 spots concurrently, after Mariah Carey and Ashanti.
Azalea moved from her native small town Australia to the Miami by herself when she was 16 to pursue her dreams of becoming a rapper, an experience chronicled in her first single, “Work.” That unconventional background has both helped and hindered her career, as it has gained her attention while some purists have been skeptical that a white female rapper from Australia could possibly be authentic. Critics point to the fact that the Southern twang she raps in is an affected accent distinct from the Australian one that escapes when she speaks in interviews as evidence that Azalea’s essentially a fake.
In an interview with Billboard in April, Azalea expressed frustration over the music industry’s sexism and general skepticism from the rap world regarding someone that “looks like me and is where I’m from.” She spent much of 2013 cutting her teeth in the U.K. after signing with Mercury, because, according to her, in the U.S., record labels feel that “there can only be one rapper with a vagina.”
“Rappers like Angel Haze or Dominique Young Unique are on the radio in the U.K. — I can only hear one female rapping on the radio here,” Azalea said. Now that she’s dominating the mainstream charts, perhaps the perception toward female rappers will change for the better. At least record companies will see that these women are clearly capable of earning power.
Azalea has benefited from an alliance with rapper T.I. and has received recognition as much for the fact that she’s a blonde, white, female rapper from Australia as for her music itself. But she doesn’t see her participation in the rap world as historically unusual at all, comparing herself to a different band from the British invasion of the 1960s. “Why is it that you can have The Rolling Stones, but a white rapper is weird? The Rolling Stones were originally doing blues. This is not weird, this is like history repeating itself,” she told Billboard.
More from Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- Billboard Hot 100: The Charts Belong to Iggy Azalea
- Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk Guest Stars at the Billboard Awards
- What Do ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Have in Common?
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