Iggy Azalea is sitting pretty these days. The plucky white rapper from Australia graces the cover of this week’s Billboard as “Fancy” occupies the top spot on the Hot 100. Her record success — she also raps on the No. 2 song in the nation right now (Ariana Grande’s “Problem”) — has not come without criticism of her hip-hop credentials.
“We get so caught up, especially in rap, with what’s authentic, and I wish people would think more about what the f- that even means,” says Azalea, 24. “One critic was like, ‘Why didn’t you talk about more Australian things?’ I don’t understand why I’m supposed to write a song about living in the outback and riding a kangaroo to be authentic.”
Go behind the scenes of Iggy’s Billboard cover shoot in the exclusive video interview below, plus check out five things we learned about the quickly rising star.
TUPAC GOT HER INTO RAP. Like many many many before her, Tupac Shakur inspired Azalea to become a rapper. She was 11, and the song was Tupac’s “Baby Don’t Cry.” By 14 she was writing her own raps and hanging out at clubs in Sydney. “When I first started rapping, I thought I’d move to the city [Sydney]. But when I got there I was like, ‘These people are still not my people.'”
SHE MOVED TO THE U.S. IN 2007. A 16-year-old Iggy told her mom she was going to Miami with a friend on vacation, but in reality she came to the U.S. on her own and had no intention of returning home until she made it. She spent time in Houston and Atlanta before moving to Los Angeles in 2010.
‘FANCY’ WAS A DEMO CALLED ‘LEAVE IT.’ Producing team The Invisible Men approached Charli XCX about adding a killer pop hook to the eventual number-one. It immediately leapt out at her. “‘Who dat who dat/I-G-G-Y,'” says Charli XCX when asked about it, quoting Azalea’s key hook in the song. “I was so into it. I wanted to make it into, like, a 2014 girl power moment. There aren’t enough high-profile female collaborations happening.”
A NO. 1 SONG? MATCHING THE BEATLES? MEH. She is the first act since The Beatles to have her debut Hot 100 hits (“Fancy” and “Problem”) reach Nos. 1 and 2 on the chart simultaneously. “It doesn’t mean anything,” Iggy says. “I’d rather be The Rolling Stones.”
SHE PREFERS OLD-PEOPLE HOTELS. Are the accommodations trendy and filled with under-30s acting under 30? Sorry, Iggy’s not interested. “I want to stay in a place where 50-year-old rich people stay,” she says. “It’s not that I care who’s around me – I just don’t want anyone around me. And if it’s an old rich lady, they’re usually pretty quiet and disgusted I’m even here, which I like.”
Return to Billboard.com on MONDAY morning for the FULL cover story.