Rapper Iggy Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly in Sydney, Australia, in June 1990 and grew up in the Australian countryside. Moving to the U.S. just before her 16th birthday, Azalea ended up in Los Angeles and cut her first mixtape, Ignorant Art, in 2011. When her rap career wouldn't take off, Azalea turned to modeling, but the success she found there would be interrupted by her dream: magazine covers and record deals. With her 2014 release, The New Classic, Azalea took the music world by storm, and the single "Fancy" became the song of the summer.
Born Amethyst Amelia Kelly on June 7, 1990, in Sydney, Australia, Iggy Azalea—as the rapper would later be known—grew up in the New South Wales town of Mullumbimby (population 3,000). On a 2001 American road trip with her grandparents, Azalea visited Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and the idea of a life outside the Australian countryside became quickly appealing to the young girl.
As she grew up and entered her teenage years, her love of music grew, and it was hip-hip that ended up grabbing her most firmly—with artists such as Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott and 2Pac redefining her musically. Being halfway around the world from where her favorite music was being made left Azalea feeling isolated, and she turned to the internet to bring her closer to the hip-hop community.
Along the way, the aspiring rapper bonded with another teenager, Derek, in the Bahamas, whom she came to think of as her only friend. She’d send Derek rap songs she'd done and ask what he thought, seeking the opinion of someone much closer to the action. Before long, Azalea was planning another trip to the States.
Arriving in the U.S.
Just before her 16th birthday, Azalea headed for the U.S. for two weeks to visit Derek—whom she had never met in person but who was the only person she knew in the states. He was living in Miami, and he picked her up at the airport on the 4th of July. It wasn’t long before she called her parents to tell them she wouldn’t be coming back to Australia, that simply being in the homeland of hip-hop was enough to make her feel at home.
Azalea moved from Miami to Houston before ending up in Atlanta and enmeshing herself in her cultural surroundings, drawl and all. In 2011—right after she relocated once again, this time to Los Angeles—she released the mixtape Ignorant Art, an album infused with trap music, itself a descendant of Southern rap.
In 2012, she also signed with a huge firm, Wilhelmina Models International, and was quickly named the "New Face of Levi's Jeans."
Music Takes Over
By the end of 2011, XXL magazine had put Azalea on the cover of their annual Top Ten Freshman issue, making her the first female, non-American rapper to make the list. The exposure helped her get Diplo to work on her next mixtape, TrapGold, and it caught the attention of Mercury Records, who signed her and eventually released her official debut, 2014’s The New Classic.
The New Classic featured several singles released internationally, but it was “Fancy” that became the song of the summer in the U.S. It also put Azalea in the same league as The Beatles, in one category anyway: When “Fancy” occupied the No. 1 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Problem,” her collaboration with Ariana Grande, was at No. 2, making Azalea the only musical artist besides The Beatles to simultaneously hold No. 1 and No. 2 with her first two singles. In 2015, Azalea teamed up with Britney Spears for the single "Pretty Girls."
Azalea got engaged to pro basketball player Nick Young in June 2015. The couple has been dating since 2013.
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