Adelaide rapper Tkay Maidza has made her grand return to the scene, dropping a tentative new EP titled ‘Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 1’. 2 years after her solid debut ‘Tkay’, the rapper marks an eclectic presence in Australian hip-hop & tightens up her vision and sound, musing on the throes of newfound adulthood.
Australia came to know and love the young Zimbabwean-born artist’s infectious bubblegum pop, however, Maidza strives to take us to a trap-ier, darker place with her new project. Pushing both her audience, and herself, to deal with adulthood, the EP cogitates over the existentialism that is one’s early 20s. Having just stepped into them, the 21-year-old reflects on the previous year of her life and takes us on a journey on how her life has since changed.
While the topic of young adulthood is hardly unexplored territory, the EP is still well written and collated. It makes sure to musically and lyrically reflect the rollercoaster that is early maturity, to the point where you can really feel Maidza’s confusion and pure emotion on the topic. A fairly upbeat project considering the topic at hand, the melodious ride suddenly halts when it comes to the track ‘Growing Up’ – a hard, sobering reminder of needing to confine to adulthood and trying to navigate new, uncertain circumstances. Especially poignant lyrics are found in ‘when you stop making excuses and start making changes’, as well as ‘love growing up, hate getting older’ which acts as the hook, evoke such simple but powerful, relatable statements on the topic.
Despite the dispiriting nature of the project, Maidza shows us the other side of the coin in the form of ‘Flexin’. ‘I don’t have the conscience, and I won’t act responsible’ depicts the flipside of being young – and reckless. Joining her on the track with a hype verse is LA rapper Duckwrth, bursting in to match Maidza’s energetic abandon over a pure trap-flavoured beat. It is also evocative of classic trap – fun, upbeat, party trap – that both artists force you to forget about your worries for a few minutes and just let loose.
The party is over early with ‘Flexin’ setting in as the second song on the tracklist – with the rest of the record focusing in on a more deep and emotional standpoint. Interestingly enough ‘Lullabies’, which acts as track 3, lyrically commiserates with ‘Flexin’ although from an altered perspective. Mentions of ‘a high key chase with no alibies, singing lullabies’ indicate Maidza’s emptiness and the feeling of recklessness that a faceless future brings.
‘White Rose’ also expresses comparable feelings, with the rapper depicting vulnerability around young love and the comfortability such love brings. Keeping within the theme of growing up, Maidza muses on the pain of growing apart & the eventual downfall of the relationship – making good use of her storytelling chops to evoke the tenderness of her narrative.
It seems poetic to open with a trap/reggae infused track & to close out over a slow & airy instrumental, absent of any 808s. Perhaps this is indicative of things to come – the rapper has proven with this project that her potential is real, and she has so much more to say to the world.
While the beats leave much to be desired – with its progression, the beats start blending into each other, save for ‘Big Things’ – the EP is lyrically strong. Maidza loves her use of similes and juxtaposition (she was clearly never one to skip English class), and she uses these devices to her advantage, allowing her to paint a more vivid picture.
Maidza seems to have achieved her goal with this EP – to conjure up a more meaningful and in-depth body of work, something that can relate to many individuals regardless of their past. The struggle of the 20-something is real, and Maidza succeeds in making us feel like we’re not alone.