Months after releasing her pointedly titled sophomore album “In My Defense,” Iggy Azalea appears to be gearing up for a comeback with a new single (and heavily promoted music video). But she won’t have the support of her former mentor, rapper T.I., and — following testy exchanges between the former collaborators — it’s probably safe to say she does not want it.
The war of words started this past month when T.I. called his decision to sign the Australia native to his Grand Hustle label in 2012 “the tarnish of” his legacy as a music executive. “I’m still actively looking for another female rapper who can undo the blunder of Iggy Azalea,” T.I. added, according to the Root, while promoting Netflix’s “Rhythm + Flow,” the hip-hop competition show he judges alongside Cardi B and Chance the Rapper.
“Imagine thinking I was his biggest blunder,” Iggy fired back in a since-deleted tweet captured by the Shade Room. “Tip. Sweetie. We have a whole list for you.” She later called the rapper “a huge misogynist” in a follow-up tweet, as reported by People.
T.I. has taken heat in the past for once promoting (and steadfastly supporting) Iggy — a white Australian rapper whose music notably trades her New South Wales lilt for a Deep South accent (or, blaccent, as some critics called it). The two were already collaborating in February 2012 when XXL announced that Iggy would be the first female rapper to be featured in its annual Freshman Class. Her inclusion in the magazine’s highly regarded (and debated) list of up-and-coming rappers prompted controversy since XXL had failed to recognize other promising female rappers — such as Nicki Minaj — who garnered industry buzz following the list’s 2007 debut.
But Iggy’s 2014 breakout could hardly be called a blunder by executive standards. “Fancy,” a single from her debut album “The New Classic” shot to No. 1 on the Billboard chart, where it held court for seven consecutive weeks. She was later featured on Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” which peaked at No. 2 on the chart, making Iggy the first artist since the Beatles to have their first Hot 100 hits chart simultaneously in the chart’s two top spots.
Later that year, Iggy received four Grammy nominations: best new artist and record of the year, for “Fancy,” among them. Her rapid success, and subsequent recognition by the perpetually rap-snubbing Recording Academy, drew backlash from the hip-hop community — particularly since her Grammy nods arrived just one year after phenom Kendrick Lamar lost best rap album to pop-leaning duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Throughout all of the controversy, one of Iggy’s most outspoken critics was fellow rapper Azealia Banks — no stranger herself to lyrical criticism or celebrity feuds — who called the blonde rapper out for a mixtape-era song in which she boasted “when the relay starts I’m like a runaway slave master.” Banks also took issue with Iggy’s silence on Black Lives Matter, which had become a fiery discussion topic for the hip-hop community.
T.I. publicly supported Iggy amid the backlash, even going up against hip-hop legend Q-Tip, who politely waded in to shed light on the genre’s significant history of addressing social and political issues. Even as T.I. acknowledged that Q-Tip shared “useful info,” he defended Iggy and other white people who “merely wish to contribute” to hip-hop culture as opposed to stealing from it.
Iggy’s response to the broader conversation was, by most accounts, dismissive. In tweets captured by Jezebel, the rapper said that she found the advice “patronizing” and said she refused “to sit on twitter & play hip-hop squares with strangers to somehow prove I deserve to be a fan of or influenced by hip-hop.” That would prove to be the last straw for T.I., who hinted months later in a September 2015 interview with Hot 97′s “Ebro in the Morning” that the two had parted ways following her resistance to Q-Tip’s respectful history lesson.
The year had not been kind to Iggy, who went home from the Grammys empty-handed and was later forced to cancel her first arena tour. Despite acknowledging that the two had not recently talked, T.I. defended Iggy once more, telling Ebro Darden and his co-hosts that “she had a lot thrown at her at one time."
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“Any human being, anywhere, is going to have a hard time adjusting,” T.I. said. “She had a hard time properly directing her energy to the right source.”
“It’s very difficult to be the new kid and to be the butt of the jokes,” he added, noting that her breakout coincided with “a time where culturally, in this nation, which — she’s not from here — we were looking for a source, for somewhere to place some pent-up aggression.”
Four years later, the rapper is taking a harsher stance. In an interview earlier this week with Power 105.1′s “The Breakfast Club,” T.I. elaborated on his “blunder” comment, noting that Iggy had “potential” and “was meant to be great.” The issue, he said, was that “when she found out white people liked her and she didn’t really need black people to like her anymore, she switched up, started acting different, made moves that I wasn’t proud of, that kind of placed my reputation in the line of fire.” (Note: There is some strong language in the video below.)
“And,” he added, “she was very arrogant about it.”
Iggy responded yet again, though her tweets appear to have been replaced by teaser photos and videos for her forthcoming song. “Please move on and speak about” an artist “you are (hopefully) actually helping, and stop trying to bring me up for relevance,” Iggy tweeted, according to Billboard.
In the meantime, her feud with T.I. feud seems to have cooled for now. But there’s no telling where it could go from here — years after their scathing exchanges, Iggy and Banks were set to collaborate on a song in 2017 before the project fell through. (They appear to have since exchanged harsh words.)
And it would appear that even her former mentor thinks she can be redeemed. While speaking generally about the cultural topic du jour that is “cancel culture,” T.I. told Tamron Hall that he thinks the concept is “fake” and “convenient."
It’s also fluid, according to the rapper, who invoked a line from Hov’s “Meet the Parents,” to explain his view. “Like Jay-Z said, 'first they hate you, then they love you, then they hate you again,” he said.
But T.I. flubbed the “Blueprint 2” lyric slightly. Jay-Z’s actual line is even more optimistic about comebacks: “First they love me, then they hate me, then they love me again.”