Tkay Maidza can be forgiven for returning to the title ‘Last Year Was Weird’ for this third instalment in her EP series. Its predecessors have installed her as a new leader in underground rap, despite her music being as ready for the masses as anyone’s, and with anticipation now heightened once again, this new eight-track collection deserves to deliver her to the next level.
The Australian-Zimbabwean rapper has an effortless relationship with melody, trapping hooks seemingly with such ease that each one doesn’t even get its own track to itself. Just as with her excellent earlier singles ‘24k’ and ‘Shook’, there are too many ideas here to be reasonably contained by its brief runtime.
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‘Kim’, ostensibly a tribute to her love of 2000s Disney series Kim Possible, rides in on fierce metallic beats – not in the heavy guitar sense, but rather in the sense of clanking slabs of silver – as Maidza somehow mines multiple competing earworms out of something as simple as a repeated refrain of, “Bitch, I’m bitch, I’m Kim”. The track is in stark contrast to the pastoral zen of ‘Eden’, a weekend summer breeze of a song where Maidza’s lightly auto-tuned vocals wash over gentle piano and strings, punctuated by a mistily nostalgic faux-vintage soul sample.
Such dexterity is now to be expected. ‘Syrup’ changes the mood again, delivering some of that basement energy with its deep bass and trap beats, while Maidza compresses impactful sentiments into single syllables (“Thick, sweet, sick”). Out go the subtle, organic arrangements; in comes a cargo load of attitude. ‘Cashmere’, meanwhile, offers a beat as warmly inviting as its title to serve as a backdrop to the one window of meaningful introspection that Maidza allows herself, as she deals out loud with the sting of a breakup: “Camouflage my darkest thoughts…there’s not a lot in me left”.
If there is a frustration with ‘Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3’, it is that at barely more than 20 minutes in length, we are once again left with an appetiser instead of the full spread. Maidza’s character screams out of the speakers, an irrepressible, idiosyncratic presence that is hers and hers alone. Each of these eight tracks is its own self-contained pocket of frantic energy, finely crafted and targeted at the stars. It is, in other words, elite pop music, and the sooner the world realises that, the better.
- Release date: July 9
- Label: 4AD