Iggy Azalea is back with a new single, but on different terms. This past Friday (Feb. 2), she released her latest single, the Quavo-featuring “Savior,” via Island Records, having spent the past few years on the roster at Def Jam Recordings.
Azalea’s relationship with Def Jam had been on the rocks for some time; last year, she claimed that former Def Jam CEO Steve Bartels refused to release any more singles from her planned sophomore album, Digital Distortion, after a string of unsuccessful records came and went over a two-year span.
“Steve Bartels says he doesn’t want to release another single for my album unfortunately — So that’s that,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet last July. “I’m very unhappy with the way things have been handled too. I will make sure it’s not this way for ia3… I can assure you guys of that.”
Sources tell Billboard it was not long after that internal spat spilled out into the public last year that Azalea was shifted from Def Jam to Island. Both labels are owned by the Universal Music Group, and when Azalea first signed with the company back in 2013, the two were combined under the umbrella Island Def Jam Music Group. On April 1, 2014, Universal announced a reorganization of its East Coast labels operation that involved the separation of Island Records, Def Jam Recordings and Motown into three individual standalone labels; three weeks later, Azalea’s major label debut album, The New Classic, was released via Def Jam, not Island.
Azalea’s label odyssey with UMG actually began in 2012, when she departed from another Universal label, Interscope Records, after her then-management team Grand Hustle failed to see eye-to-eye with label brass. That paved the way for Azalea to sign with Island Def Jam and release her hit single “Work” the following year, which was celebrated by Island Records president David Massey.
“We are beyond proud and excited to welcome Iggy to the Island Def Jam family,” Massey said in a statement at the time. “Iggy has created a massive buzz and rightfully so: She’s incredibly talented, she’s focused, driven, and has great creative tastes and instincts. She is nothing short of an international star, and the team here — including Steve Bartels, Chris Anokute, Karen Kwak, our chairman Barry Weiss and myself — are thrilled she’s chosen Island Records as her U.S. home.”
Notably, none of those executives mentioned by Massey at the time — Bartels, Anokute, Kwak and Weiss — are still with the company. Bartels, who became chairman/CEO of Def Jam after the reorganization in 2014, stepped down from his post at the end of 2017, and was replaced by Paul Rosenberg.
Representatives for Island and for Def Jam did not comment when contacted by Billboard.
Additional reporting by Dan Rys.