The early reality of Amethyst Kelly is difficult to imagine. There was once a small home in the tiny Australian town of Mullumbimby, made of red brick, cemented by mud and laid by her father’s careful hands. Her mother would spend her days emptying trash bins at a motel as a vacation rental cleaner, a path Amethyst would eventually follow at age 14. Water didn’t always run, clothes were never new, and bathrooms were separated from the home by a muddied path. It’s a tale of immensely humble beginnings, a hemisphere away from the life she would come to inhabit as Iggy Azalea a decade later. And while her origins are unfathomable for some, it’s Amethyst’s American dream that remains universal.
I first witnessed a glimpse of that dream in the fall of 2011. It was through a cracked iPhone screen, held casually by my friend. “You have to see this bitch,” she announced, flicking her perfectly coiled locs and turning up the volume. “She’s every-fucking-thing!” There, on the screen, was a tall, curvy woman with ice-blonde hair and creamy incandescent skin. She was surrounded by two brown cheerleaders in matching green uniforms, strutting in towering heels and rapping furiously: My world, rhyme vicious/ White girl team, full of bad bitches. Immediately, I recognized her: this confident, eccentric girl who didn’t fit into preppy white hierarchies. While others girls were quoting lines from Mean Girls, imagining themselves Regina George, she appeared as someone I knew. A girl unruly and self-possessed, always late to class, always blasting D4L. I could see her crafting beats with her knuckles and strolling into class hours late, another detention slip placed on her desk. We were sold.
If “My World” was the bait, “Pussy” was the hook, line and sinker. Iggy, Iggy/ Pussy illy/ Wetter than the Amazon/ Taste this kitty! Her accent was thick and affected, reminiscent of our cherished childhood favorite Diamond from Atlanta’s Crime Mob. The “Pussy” video was a Boyz N The Hood homage with ATLien pastiche. There were ice cream trucks and babysitting, front porch posing and concrete runways, sherbet-colored pants and shredded shorts. And we weren’t the only ones taking notice of Iggy and her ways. Seemingly overnight, our private cafeteria secret had become a viral phenomenon.