Iggy Azalea is, for the moment at least, one of the biggest pop stars in the United States. She has the number one and two songs on the BIllboard singles chart and her debut had been in the top 10 album charts for six weeks. She's even had her own high-profile feud and had her artistic worth questioned.
Part of the 24-year-old Los Angeles-based rapper's mythology is that she felt like an outsider in her hometown of Mullumbimby, explored the Sydney hip-hop scene at 14 (but found it dull) then at 16 took a holiday to Miami but decided to stay. From there she launched her now-skyrocketing career, storming the fortress of US hip-hop in the process.
Surely the family's side of that back-story must be interesting? On Wednesday, a man claiming to be Iggy Azalea's father - Brendan James Kelly - contacted Australian media outlets by email with a press release intriguingly titled "Iggy Azalea's Father Takes Bedtime stories too far". The email mentioned Iggy Azalea six times; he really wanted media to know he was Iggy Azalea's father.
The email also contained a hyperlink to his website, which said: "He has two daughters, Amethyst Kelly (Iggy Azalea) & Emerald Kelly (who surfed 6ft Lennox Point !)." The site contains prominent links to his Twitter and Facebook pages, where you can find photos of "IGGY AZALEA NAKED IN A BATHTUB !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [sic]", plus a photo of a tiny blonde child captioned: "Iggy Azalea playing with her dog Iggy (also known as Iggy Boy, Dum Dum Boy, Igga, Iggity & more) 1993".
On Iggy Azalea's birthday, June 7, Kelly tweeted another photo of a blonde girl proudly holding a "starcastle" surrounded by wrapping paper, captioned "@IGGYAZALEA & HER STAR CASTLE You're going so well you should build a REAL ONE! Happy Birthday Amethyst love Dad XXX [sic]". The tone is that of a proud father, albeit perhaps a sad one - and it isn't because he follows her on Twitter but that she doesn't follow "dad".
Other than telling the world he is Iggy Azalea's father, Brendan James Kelly's email was spruiking his books, which "contain illustrations of penises black and white, erect and flaccid. In another, he uses language that would have your child removed from school!".
Let's be clear: the books are adult humour written in the format of a children's book and are clearly not intended for children. In parts they are quite funny if a little strange. Kelly does have a sense of humour he has been more than happy to share with the public before. He worked as a stand-up comedian - called Brendan Lovechild - for a while, and not a bad one either.
If you get the sense something is missing here, you'd be right: Brendan James Kelly himself. Nobody has spoken to him. Yet.
Requests to speak with him - via the email address that contacted media was met with an odd response from someone calling themselves just "Alys": "Brendan is very much a hermit who lives on the top of a hill in Mullumbimby, so he isn't really comfortable doing [media interviews] - sorry."
A list of questions forwarded to Alys - including 'why did she leave home at 16?' and 'Why have you chosen to tell the media now (and not earlier) that you are Iggy's dad?' - were met with an even stranger response from "Alys": "As an artist, Brendan prefers to work uninterrupted as much as possible. He doesn't answer phone calls and prefers to keep his personal life as private as possible." Oh really?
Fairfax tracked down a woman who worked with Kelly and asked for his number, or that he call us and speak off the record. He didn't call, or return emailed questions.
It doesn't take much searching who-follows-who on Twitter to work out Iggy Azalea might not be close to her family. She's made no secret that she couldn't wait to get out of Australia. In her breakthrough song Work, she sings: "Two feet in the red dirt, school skirt / Sugar cane, back lanes / Three jobs, took years to save / But I got a ticket on that plane / People got a lot to say / But don't know shit about where I was made / Or how many floors that I had to scrub / Just to make it past where I am from."
Two years ago Azalea told website dazeddigital.com her sister Emerald: "Just turned 19 this month. And isn't it terrible that I didn't wish her a happy birthday? We don't really speak."
Last year Azalea told HardKNock.tv her father left the family when she was in year five: "My father left me a note and gave it to my teacher... it basically said he would see me, my younger sister and mother walking around town and see us be a family and this depressed him and made him so upset, that we would never visit him, that he wanted to kill himself and he left.
"So he left this note and just kind of [left] and it made me feel really sad not to have him and it kind of was the beginning ... of be just isolating myself and being in my own shell.
"It sucked the life out of me to have one parent just go and not know when they were coming back."
In the interview Azalea admitted her "happiness kept deteriorating" and she wondered if she was depressed or even bi-polar. "Is there something wrong with me ? Do I need medication because I'm really f---ing sad.
"I was just miserable [in Mullumbimby] for a lot of different reasons. I felt like if I could get away to this other place ... a fantasy land. I thought that I could make it as a rapper better in America but that's ultimately not what made me move it's just that things seemed so hopeless where I was and I needed something to change and it had to be my surroundings.
"I was always very scared of my father, until I became older and started to understand him, he's a very smart man but sometimes people who are almost genius are kind of crazy and hard to deal with, and very weird socially and this man is, and now that I'm older I totally get him and we get along so good. He's influenced me so much."
So it seems Iggy Azalea's father is back, kind of. At least that he wants people to know he is her father.
Attempts to verify his story with the Azalea camp have not yet met a response.
This reporter for one does not think this is the last time the public will be hearing from Brendan James Kelly. Perhaps he's waiting for the right moment. Or the right offer?
- Sydney Morning Herald