Music: Iggy Azalea; Pitbull; Tony Allen
It’s unorthodox to release another album a mere six months after your major-label debut, but that’s what Iggy Azalea has done.
Reclassified consists of five new songs and, bizarrely, seven from this year’s big hit, The New Classic. Why bother? The New Classic was a charttopper.
Why not release the new five as a mixtape, or wait a year and drop a whole new album? Perhaps Azalea feels she’s had short shrift from society at large. She barrels back into the melee, fists raised, on her new track We in This Bitch: “Right, Iggy back no playtime/ I just gave ya’ll some break time to miss me.”
Following the release of The New Classic, critics excoriated Azalea for her allegedly entitled, tone-deaf imitation of black Southern rappers.
Questions were raised about the problems inherent in artistic appropriation: Azalea was shut down, figuratively speaking. Fancy marketing ploy or middle finger flick? Maybe somewhere in the middle – but Reclassified feels fuelled by anger.
Even so it lacks the spitfire of The New Classic. Nor do I believe Azalea when she claims: “Life is now everything I dreamed and more.”
Pitbull constitutes hip hop only in the loosest sense. In terms of verbal sophistication, his music ranks up there with Jenna Maroney's Muffin Top from 30 Rock: "My muffintop is all that/ Whole grain, low fat!" Take one example, from Ah Leke: "All the ladies when you're ready let me know/ Dats it dats it dats it dats it dats it/ Ready set she go." Or another: "I came I saw I conquered/ Or should I say I saw I conquered… I came?" His double entendres do come, one after another, never shedding their self-satisfied sense of virility and sleazy charm.
The album sadly, does not include the only Pitbull song I like, the reasonably enjoyable and very catchy Timber, featuring Ke$ha. Instead, we get a jazzy new single, Fireball, which has a nice Iko Iko-esque opening but doesn't pack in the catchy beats of Timber. It's merely passable as this season's club hit.
The only high moment of Globalization is Time of Our Lives, featuring Ne-Yo. Needless to say, Ne-Yo steals the show. His genuine charm and vocal talent makes Pitbull look like the over-ripe, over-produced hack he is.
Film of Life
Tony Allen is best known for his association with African musical legend Fela Kuti; they created Afrobeat during the 1970s in West Africa - a unique and infectious blend of funk, jazz, and traditional African styles. But Allen is a fantastic musician and innovator in his own right, perhaps the greatest drummer Africa has ever known.
His later work (like a recent collaboration with Damon Albarn, featured here on Go Back) has taken him far beyond the Fela Kuti circle.
Allen seems to have an almost preternatural sense of rhythm and flow. The album opens with a cheery yellow tone ( Moving On, featuring some beautifully caramel vocals by Allen and a female chorus), but by track five ( Afro Kungfu Beat) the groove has become purpler, more ruminative. A rainbow runs through this.
Allen is 74 and this is his 10th album. He has nothing to prove. Film of Life feels like a sweetly savoured victory lap; there's no new ground broken here, but Allen is at his most assured and his most relaxed. The result is beautiful to behold - a treat for old fans and a great introduction for new ones.