Iggy Azalea is a woman on the verge.
Two years ago, we would have been referring to her impending superstardom – a near-certainty thanks to her catchy pop tunes, no-nonsense approach to fame and humble beginnings.
Today, Azalea could be on the brink of losing it all.
After a series of missteps, the Australian-born singer and rapper appears to have put her career temporarily on hold, partly to celebrate her recent engagement, partly because she’s running out of steam.
Thanks to a handful of record-breaking singles, the 25-year-old has certainly earned the break and she’s not the first pop star to take one.
But does she have the mileage to come back from it?
In the fast-paced Spotify-driven world of music today, paring back at the peak of your career is a risky move few can pull off.
British music world darling Adele had to cancel shows in 2011 after having surgery on her vocal cords. She went on to win six Grammys.
In 2012, she pulled back again to have a baby. Less than a year later, she won an Oscar for penning and performing the lead track for the James Bond movie Skyfall.
This is perhaps because Adele has the kind of immense talent that eclipses pettiness about appearance, age, personal life and timing.
Others haven’t been so lucky.
Christina Aguilera, for example, took a career hiatus and her two successive comeback albums – 2010’s Bionic and 2012’s Lotus – bombed dramatically.
Why? She was of the Britney Spears generation, but she wasn’t Britney Spears.
Azalea faces a similar challenge when you consider her contemporaries are Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Rihanna – none of whom have taken a real break since their careers took off.
Unfortunately, she also has a host of factors working against her, including but not limited to the following.
A cancelled tour
Azalea postponed her Great Escape tour twice before finally cancelling it in May, much to the disappointment of her fans.
Her reason for backing out of her promised 21-city journey? “Mentally, to be honest with you, I just feel I deserve a break,” she told Seventeen magazine.
Fans were then told they would have to wait a year to see the tour.
Of course, the cancellation also prompted uncomfortable suggestions the tour simply wasn’t selling tickets.
Why does media keep trying to force @IGGYAZALEA on us?? No one likes her!! She canceled her ENTIRE tour cuz no one was buying tickets
— Fabulous Channyn (@ChannynStanley) June 9, 2015
Racism and homophobia
This month, Azalea was forced to pull out of a gay pride concert thanks to some fairly nasty comments from her past.
Like an advert for what not to do on social media, she made some risky comments on Twitter right before she hit the big time.
Unfortunately, the tweets were both racist and homophobic and, despite Azalea’s insistence her views have since changed, they are still floating around the web.
If you want to see just how bad they were, you can click this link, but they do contain profanity and offensive material.
In 2011, The New York Times hailed Azalea for being the antithesis of all that is manufactured hip hop.
The newspaper described Azalea as “a sexy rapper with long blond hair, a model’s enticing looks and the detached, hyperconfident air of a dominatrix”.
Then, many hailed her apparent readiness to discuss a recent breast augmentation (in Vogue no less) as honest.
But her subsequent facial transformation – rumoured to include a nose job and chin implant – somewhat shattered the illusion of the all-natural Aussie girl many held in their minds.
Not cool how Iggy Azalea was all about being yourself etc like 2 years ago and now she’s getting cosmetic surgery all the time
— EK (@erinkinglove) June 9, 2015
To have staying power in the music world, you need the support of powerful people.
Unfortunately for Azalea, influential voices from her genre (purported to be Rap and Hip Hop) aren’t exactly on her side.
In 2014, Nicki Minaj made a point of emphasising her songwriting abilities during an awards show acceptance speech, a move many interpreted as a diss to Azalea.
“My point is, what I want the world to know about Nicki Minaj is when you hear Nicki Minaj spit, Nicki Minaj wrote it,” Minaj said.
Azealia Banks, another female rapper, slammed Azalea’s Grammy nominations, saying: “The Grammys are supposed to be awards for artistic excellence. Iggy Azalea’s not excellent.”
Indeed, Azalea was somewhat snubbed at the 2015 Grammys, receiving four nominations but not a single win.
Possibly the biggest slight against Azalea’s name are the ongoing accusations she uses ghost-writers to create her songs.
Many believe the 25-year-old’s mentor, American rapper T.I., is responsible for most of her hits.
A particularly uncomfortable 2013 appearance on a radio show did nothing to quell the accusations.
When asked to freestyle – an expected skill for most rappers – Azalea instead chose to recite lyrics from an unreleased song.
Worse, T.I. could be seen rushing to her side with what appeared to be concern across his face. The social media reaction was less than flattering.
reporter: iggy freestyle for us iggy: ok iggy [with emotion]: edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me/ small and white, clean & br
— shrill (@theshrillest) December 29, 2014
The bottom line
Azalea is undoubtedly a supremely talented young woman, songwriting skills or lack thereof aside. And Australia can always do with another golden child to root for.
But her next step is crucial, and she needs to make it soon.
Otherwise, she could be destined to live on in “The best of the 2010s” compilations.