Behind the Band Name: Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea bares her stage name like a badge of honor. Born in Sydney, Australia, as Amethyst Amelia Kelly, Azalea grew up in Mullumbimby, New South Whales, before emigrating to the United States when she was 16 in order to make it in music.

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It took quite the journey to get to Iggy Azalea, one that involves a dog fight, snake bite and some scolding from her grandfather. But the journey paid off, as Azalea has become a groundbreaking rapper with worldwide hits. Below, we dig into the wild story of how she got the name Iggy Azalea.

Meaning Behind the Name:

Her first name is inspired by her dog, Iggy, while the last name comes from the street where her family lives in her native Australia. She tells the tale in two parts, one being how she arrived at Iggy for the first name, while part two covers her last name.

Before she was a superstar act, she went by one name, “Iggy.” “That was because I had a dog called Iggy who I loved very, very much,” she describes in Vevo’s A.K.A. series. The dog got its name from another famous pop star, Iggy Pop, and was of the Australian cattle dog breed, Azalea referring to him as a “rock star.” But she had a traumatic experience when she thought he was going to die on her birthday one year after he got in a fight with her neighbor’s dog.

“He got that dog’s girlfriend pregnant and they were trying to pure-breed puppies,” she explains. “And then the puppies came out the wrong color, they came out the wrong breed.”

But that wasn’t the only trouble he got into. Azalea recalls another time when he got bit by a snake, which paralyzed his legs. She then drove the dog to the vet to be treated for the bite. Iggy the dog had to stay in the hospital for three weeks to recover. To honor her “Iggy boy,” as she affectionately called him, she got a plate with his name on it that she wore as a necklace. But the necklace caused some confusion, with people believing that was her name.

“I just thought it was cool and everybody started to think that my name was Iggy,” she recalls. “So it kind of became my nickname and I took it onboard and started rapping with it.”

With her first name in place, Azalea was planning to operate under one name until her grandfather, who worked in TV and was a “big film fan,” she says, laid down the law. “You can’t have a one-word stage name, you have to have a first name and a last name,” he asserted.

“He told me this theory, and it made perfect mathematical sense about syllables and stage names–they have to have a certain amount of syllables and mine was wrong,” Azalea explains of his reasoning. “So I had to think of a good last name and I chose Azalea because that is the street that my mom and family live on. I loved Azalea because it sounds very feminine and I thought it would balance out Iggy being so masculine and a boy’s name.”

Made For Success:

Under the name, Azalea has recorded four studio albums, setting the tone with her 2014 debut, The New Classic, which spawned hit singles “Fancy” with Charli XCX and “Black Widow.” The album topped both the Billboard Top Rap Albums and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, Azalea becoming the first non-American female rapper to reach No. 1 on both charts. She also ascended up the charts as a guest vocalist on Ariana Grande’s 2014 hit, “Problem,” which charted across the world, reaching a peak of No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her most recent album is 2021’s The End of an Era.

Clearly, the stage name stuck, so much so that Azalea is very territorial of it. “That’s how it’s gonna stay,” she asserts about being referred to by her stage name. “I feel like I was born with the name Iggy Azalea. I don’t really remember not being called this. It’s my name. So if you see me on the street, call me Iggy or I will kill you,” she laughs.

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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