Wafia has shared her first release for 2022, a groovy new single titled ‘In The Honey’, alongside a candid statement addressing her forced departure from Atlantic Records.
In a statement stared on Tuesday (May 17), the artist – full name Wafia Al-Rikabi – said: “It’s been a while, almost two years since I put out solo music, and in the lead up to sharing my new work with you I want to check in and give you an update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.
“I was let go by my record label last year and I hit a record low point behind closed doors. I kept it a secret for months and was embarrassed to tell the people close to me what had happened out of stigma and shame of being ‘dropped’. I felt like I was regressing, that I’d hit my peak and everyone but me knew it.”
An update from my heart. In The Honey, out Thursday. See you soon 🐝 pic.twitter.com/VTyuo5mHAH
— Wafia (@Wafiaaa) May 16, 2022
Al-Rikabi went on to say that she “started getting panic attacks” that were severe enough to require intervention, and “felt sadness and failure so deeply and for so long”. After cluing her parents in to the situation, her father responded with an Egyptian turn of phrase, “نايم في العس”, which she translated to “They fell asleep in the honey”.
The new song was inspired by the emotional journey Al-Rikabi went on after receiving her father’s message. It arrives today (May 19) as the first release on her own label, Heartburn Records, the ethos of which is defined by the artist’s own “values and ethics”. Have a look at the track’s official visualiser below:
Elaborating on the personal healing that led Al-Rikabi to write ‘In The Honey’, she explained that after her father’s comforting words cut deep, she “felt anger” and “wondered if everyone had fulfilled the promises they made [to Al-Rikabi] when [she] got signed”.
She continued: “From there I realized that no one gets to decide my peak for me but me. I had to take the bet that I’d taken so many times before and that was believing that my best work was still ahead of me. And it is.”
Although it was a slow process, Al-Rikabi said she “began to find [her] footing” in due time. She said of the experience: “Tears fell, wine spilled, I called on those in my life who I can trust to lean on when I find myself unsteady. I went inward and pushed my body physically in ways I never had before, I spent days alone with my unreleased music, falling back in love with my voice and my story.
“Maybe biggest of all, I finally returned home. Home to family torn apart by the pandemic, home to the country that gave me my first chance, home to sausage rolls and cheesy koala photos, Australia. I turned to love and asked for help, and love echoed back this song I give to you now.”
Ultimately, Al-Rikabi said, ‘In The Honey’ serves as “a reminder” to her followers that “even if someone overlooks or underestimates you, it doesn’t change the fact that you are golden, shimmering and sweet”.
As for the way she plans to operate Heartburn Records, Al-Rikabi noted she would be establishing a profit-sharing initiative, whereby “every songwriter that helps [her] write a song will also have equity on the master side of the recording”. As she opined: “Songwriters are both essential to this music industry and also severely underpaid.”
‘In The Honey’ is Al-Rikabi’s first new solo release since August 2020, when she dropped her fourth EP, ‘Good Things’. That record marked her debut on Atlantic, to whom she’d signed in August 2019, having previously been a part of the local Future Classic roster.
Al-Rikabi has appeared on a series of releases since then, including acoustic reworks of the ‘Good Things’ singles ‘Pick Me’, ‘Hurricane’ and the title track and new versions of ‘Pick Me’ with Rahmania Astrini and Pam Anshisha.
She also released the Ta-ku and Masego-featuring standalone single ‘Wide Open’ last year, along with the R3HAB and Mr Eazi collab ‘I Wanna Run Away’. All of those were released through Atlantic, except for the last song (which came via R3HAB’s label CYB3RPVNK).