Tkay Maidza’s Last Year Was Weird sequel prides itself on its genre ambiguity and a unique flair of confidence.
The Zimbabwean-born artist, who this year announced her signing to revered US label 4AD, delivers the second volume to her Last Year Was Weird three-part series, in undeniably the weirdest year. The eight-track EP is a sonic swank from the Adelaide talent as she glides effortlessly across alternative hip-hop, electronic music, and funky R&B and pop.
The EP opens with My Flowers, a chilled-out hip-hop tune touching on her steady ascend as her petals fly. The track dances with the adage of giving someone their flowers (accolades) while they’re living. As the chorus sings, “These are my flowers, these are my flowers”, it seems like the only gratification she needs is from herself. But nevertheless, we can’t help but give her the well-deserved flowers. Tkay continues to smoothly shift from singing to rapping on the bubbly house-styled cut 24k. “Switch it up” echoes at the start of Shook as Tkay does exactly that. Talking her shit over the booming beat, Tkay takes on a Missy Elliot-like flair to challenge anyone who dare to underestimate her.
Having broken into the scene at just 17-years-old, Shook stands as a tasteful middle finger to anyone trying to corner her into one avenue. Now at 23-years-old, Tkay still feels like a fresh voice that garners excitement with every release. Though she has received some international nods in the past, most recently from the internet’s busiest music nerd, Anthony Fantano, Tkay is still at an interesting fork in the road. In Australia, she’s dominated for the better half of a decade, however, on an international scale, she’s only just beginning to burst into the limelight. The EP resumes with its first single Awake, featuring experimental rapper JPEGMAFIA. It’s an intense and eery trap track about late night antics. The instrumental is suffocating and the onslaught of bars from Tkay and Peggy leaves you feeling claustrophobic in the best possible way. The only two songs that are remotely similar are Awake and Grasshopper with their frenzied, high energy trap sound demanding to be blasted through speakers.
With a moment to breathe, You Sad shines through with its tropical and bouncy instrumental. Playful ad-libs and a heavier pop focus, Tkay pokes fun at a past relationship: “I know you called, I saw, ignored. For the forty-fourth time, aren’t you overdue on your bill?” Picking a highlight on such a concise project is hard enough, but the layering of her vocals on the pre-chorus as it builds up to her catchy and light-hearted hook definitely deserves its own special mention. Tkay closes the EP out with PB Jam and the second single, Don’t Call Again featuring Kari Faux. It’s not really like we needed another feature with Tkay offering so much, but the nonchalant verse from Kari Faux is the cherry on top of the closing track. Leaning into a funkier R&B and neo-soul style, Tkay showcases that she’s clearly a product of artists like Missy Elliot and Pharrell, who pushed the creative boundaries at the time. However, instead of sounding like a nostalgic copy, Tkay Maidza is able to exercise her creativity in a contemporary and forward looking manner, making every sound her own.
With the Last Year Was Weird series expected to be a trilogy, one can safely bet that Tkay Maidza will flesh out her style even more before her anticipated second studio album. Last Year Was Weird Vol. 2 is a splatter painting from Tkay’s colourful imagination that is purposefully inconsistent but never boring or short of excellent.
Review by Frank Tremain. Follow him @ftremain.jrnl.
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