Breaking Down Iggy Azalea’s Latest Single “Started”
We are in the midst of a renaissance. Many female rappers have started to make themselves known in the hip-hop scene. Last year, we saw the rise of names like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion along with solid drops from well-established acts such as Nicki Minaj, Jean Grae and even more recently Qveen Herby. There’s really no better time than now for Iggy Azalea to make her return as well.
The Australian femcee last graced our ears with the 6-track EP Survive the Summer. A project that saw her stray away from the pop sensibilities that made some of her previous cuts chart toppers.
Iggy has continued this trend with her latest single Started. A brag rap track that serves as a possible warning shot for her competition.
To be honest, Iggy was an act I never really paid much attention to. While her biggest single, Fancy, was alright, it wasn’t really my type of joint. Blame this on my aversion to the fact that hip-hop almost has to make some sort of crossover into pop in order to chart well sometimes. Although, Cardi B has shown that you can still make a comparable and cold rap track and still have it peak the charts.
With this new single though, I really do appreciate the direction Iggy has gone in.
I’m just going to get the video out of the way first. Most, if not all, hip-hop music videos make no sense to me. They do little to enhance the concept of what the actual song is trying to get across and mostly just serve as product placement for all of the expensive items on display. But at the end of the day, hip-hop is about having a good time. I can say with 100% confidence that Iggy is indeed having a lot of fun in the video. I can also appreciate the contrast from her last single’s video, Sally Walker, which featured a funeral while Started’s features a wedding
The biggest problem I have with it though is the breaks it takes between each of Iggy’s verses. I never liked music videos that have some sort of long extravagant build-up or stop the music entirely for the sake of some loosely put together narrative. It’s borderline cheesy and it detracts from the actual song. But for all intents and purposes, the video is fun, silly, and the parts where it does take a break from the music got a chuckle out of me.
To break down a hip-hop song, I look at my four cornerstones of rap: Flow. Delivery. Lyrics. Wordplay. We also have to give the beat a look at as well.
The beat is honestly pretty average. Produced by J. White Did It, the beat features a lo-fi, pulsing kick and your standard snare that emulates a clapping sound. A few more bells-and-whistles added and you have your standard, mainstream trap beat. There’s really nothing special or noteworthy about it. It sounds good enough and serves its main purpose: to give Iggy something to flow to.
Iggy’s flow on the song is wholly rhythmic to the beat. Each verse sees her fool around with a different measure, but you won’t find too much complexity here outside of that. It’s a flow that heavily invites listeners to sing along, especially to the hook, which has that sort of ‘bad chick’ anthem kind of quality to it.
Iggy sounds confident throughout the entire cut. Her accent and the slight huskiness behind her tone lends itself well to the ‘I don’t give a f***’ attitude the song portrays. Iggy uses exaggerated annunciation to bring attention to each rhyme. It’s an effective tool that not only helps to keep the rhythm but also further helps the anthem quality of the track with the cadence that the hook keeps with the beat.
It’s your standard brag rap fair, through and through. Iggy boasts her superiority over others who think they can compete with her, her control over men, her wealth, beauty and other brag rap topics popular in today’s hip-hop scene. Brag rap is one of my favorite qualities of hip-hop. It’s the biggest indicator of the genre being fictional and sometimes shouldn’t be taken as seriously as some people might want to take it. And more importantly, it’s just a fun aspect of hip-hop.
Last but not least is the wordplay. Honestly, it’s probably the category this track is the weakest in. While every other category is probably average at best, this one is below the bar. The hook is okay. It’s mostly carried by its cadence and sing-along quality though.
Iggy falls into a trap that I see a lot of other female emcees fall into; the overuse of simile to set up punchlines in her bars. A number of comparisons are made through the use of the word ‘like’ throughout the entire track. It’s the simplest way you can make a comparison. Normally, I wouldn’t be that concerned about it, but most of the comparisons that use ‘like’ are pretty weak. It stands out more considering that each verse is only around your 16-bar standard.
The second verse is probably a highlight with the most interesting flow and wordplay with lines like “All you b****es be biting I hope ya’ll don’t give me rabies”. But then the last verse takes a dip and ends on a really sour note with “You say you rich but like Mufasa you be lyin’”, which is undoubtedly the weakest bar in the entire cut, and it literally hurts that she actually thought that was good enough to be in the song, let alone have it end the last verse. It just screams with a lack of revision.
Overall, the track is average at best and below average at worst. If I had to choose between this and something like Bodak Yellow, I’m going Bodak Yellow all day. Real talk. What scares me the most is that this song is apparently one of Iggy’s and J. White Made It’s favorite songs on her upcoming album, In My Defense. If this is the type of material that I have to look forward to that’s garnered praise from the team making it, then my expectations for this project are dropping fast.
How do you feel about Started by Iggy Azalea? Leave your comments below!
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