Iconika, like my beloved Alison Valentine, is the pop star you’ve never heard of but truly ought to.
I first discovered Iconika in 2011 during her Phlo Finister incarnation. The urban blogs were fawning over her booming, sassy Internet hit “Shades” from the Crown Gold EP. There’s an unexplainable allure about Iconika’s glamorous but starving artist aesthetic (“I ain’t got no money, I can’t feed myself / I’ve been starving way too long” Iconika confesses on “Late Nights”) which has kept me keeping tabs on her. After years of not even a featured verse on somebody else’s track, I was of course wildly excited when I heard that Phlo would be finally reinventing herself as Iconika with the Indecent Exposure project. Released in May after an almost one year delay (it was supposed to come out in September 2016), the Indecent Exposure project was worth the long wait.
Indecent Exposure is comprised of subdued trap bangers crammed with confrontational declarations of individuality (“I was born for this, I don’t live for you”) and putting in that work (“I’m so independent, I’ma grind until I get it”) so that you can live your dreams (“I’m not gon stop until I get it, I want that cash I gotta have it”). Indecent Exposure is a project designed to light up the encouragement and motivation within you, to make sure you keep chasing your wildest dreams, just like she is (“I’m so ambitious”). “Indecent Exposure is music for all the women out here doing it on their own – especially the strippers,” Iconika says.
Indecent Exposure sets off with the luxuriously conceited TarantinoTrap™ song “Wild Bitch Show,” about life as a showgirl; “I love to perform, and you love to watch me do it” Iconika darkly murmurs over midnight black, twangy guitar riffs. “Wild Bitch Show” is the perfect introduction to the rest of what Indecent Exposure has in store; blunt brilliance.
The “I know you like it when I skirt, skirt, skirt, skirt, skirt” line from “Whip It” is just one of Indecent Exposure’s multiple flirtatious hooks; “Have you ever made looove, in a red Lamborghini?” Iconika seductively wonders on “Red Lambo,” while sexily declaring that her “body got you bodiiied” over the dainty East Asian melodies of “Got You Bodied.” Each Indecent Exposure track is home to a lyric which would make the most amazing Instagram caption, delivered in Iconika’s soothing and gentle toned voice.
There’s also an injection of agonizing realness with a poignant reference to the death of Peaches Geldof, who was a close friend of Iconika’s. “You was there the day I lost my best friend, I just needed a friend” she heartbreakingly reveals about a seemingly uncaring ex-lover she puts on blast during the closing tearjerker “High Expectations.” Much like Rainbow, “High Expectations” is a reminder that music will always save us and serve as a powerful outlet for even the deepest and darkest tribulation.
“I put my pussy on a pedestal, and you can get it if you’ve got a chance” Iconika cockily boasts over “Eyho”’s murky, clamoring beat. It’s just one of the amusingly shocking I-can’t-believe-she-just-said-that moments peppered throughout Indecent Exposure. It’s what makes the title such a great, apt pun; these lewd, ‘indecent’ moments of artistic braininess are ultimately engineered to garner the ‘exposure’ Iconika needs to keep “popping like a pop star”.
Phlo Finister is well and truly dead, and she won’t be mourned – long live Iconika and her xrated xcellence.