Tkay Maidza - Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 (REVIEW)
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Tkay Maidza’s ‘Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3’ was put out to the world last Friday to our overwhelming delight. Tkay’s latest release, the third in a trilogy of projects, sees the multi-faceted artist building on the previous volumes by sustaining a rapturous momentum whereby her music is wholeheartedly the truest extension of herself at the time of its construction. Tkay’s lively vocals sail throughout the EP, filling the listener with a euphoric energy that ushers an indescribable sensation through every fibre of your being whilst listening.
A run-through of the track list is comparable to the inverse of a lava cake – where a gooey, molten exterior bookends the EP with jubilant expressions of self-love, encasing an unapologetically abrasive and exuberant centre. A perfect balance of intimate personal moments and tracks filled with a sublime balance of ingredients to procure a banger; those of which are elevated by Tkay’s own eclectic spin on the dishes being served up.
The convergence of sounds that plays in the lead in to Tkay’s introductory vocals here is delicate, precise and evocative; much like the entirety of the EP. The beginning of ‘Eden’ meshes distorted radio play harkening back to the conclusion of Vol. 2’s ‘24K’ and Tkay’s echoey repetition that sets the mood for an exquisitely poppy hook which is emblematic of Tkay looking for a perfect heaven and self-affirming verses which see her finding an internal Eden instead. Pleasing production subtleties, namely a lively drum pattern, bouncy bass and warm instrumentals, amplify the nostalgia and hope laden in this wonderful opening track.
‘Onto Me’ ft UMI
‘Onto Me’ illustrates Tkay speaking on an inescapable love, one that radiates with an intoxicating energy that sticks on to her like honey. Tkay’s sensual, beckoning vocals illuminate the tantalising effect this significant other has on her, with lines like; “In the end I’m always back to you, inhale, exhale” speaking to this feeling. UMI’s excellent contribution sees the burgeoning Washington-born artist deliver classic R&B vocals backed by subtle keys and the gentle plucks of a guitar.
This is the definition of a bop. ‘So Cold’ is a dance-inducing track which sees Tkay display an immense grasp as a vocalist and rapper, with her interchanges between varying flows and deliveries shining on a backdrop of fun-loving drums and synths. This song is a testament to actively seeking love elsewhere after having your heart broken and refusing to fall back in with the person who instigated this distance in the first place.
‘Syrup’ flourishes in the catchy, self-aware, comical and intricately chosen bars that Tkay espouses in her efforts to express that she is coming for the top. Tkay’s refrain – “I just wanna be rich, thick, sweet, sick, syrup” – encapsulates a reaffirming message which represents the side of Tkay that is determined to achieve her goals and to earn what is rightfully hers, whilst bars like; “Small money thinker, Imma never cater” reminds the world not to waste her time with small-world mentalities.
‘Kim’ ft Yung Baby Tate
This track sees Tkay paying homage to all of the infamous ‘Kims’ which have left an impression on her whilst honing their unapologetic confidence to make a statement of her own desire to reach illustrious heights. From early 2000s staple of children’s television Kim Possible to hip-hop legend Lil Kim and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian, all of the legendary ‘Kims’ are honoured in a testament to their unapologetic confidence and self-belief. To cap it all off, Yung Baby Tate matches Tkay’s ruthless dismissal of the obstacles in both their way by expressing her own tenacious and memorable verse.
Dan Farber’s ghostly reissuing of an operatic singer sample is utilised throughout the runtime of ‘High Beams’, establishing an immediate feeling that whatever Tkay has to say, we need to listen close. And as listeners we are hit with a lyrical masterclass from Tkay, one where each and every bar manifests itself visually, such is the immense power of Tkay’s natural poetic ability. After listening to this you get the sense that any opposition who tries to get in Tkay’s way, be it someone feigning love or expressing an ignorant notion, will be out of her life instantly.
‘Cashmere’, akin to the clothing it is named after, fills the listener with a warmth that is impossible to replicate elsewhere. Emphatic electronic drums and the delightful inclusion of a bass guitar compound Tkay’s intimate message of falling out of love. It is a simple message, but the story Tkay spins for the listener is wholly relatable. Inherently, our deepest relationships often implicate us in our greatest struggles to overcome separation, and Tkay has wholeheartedly captured this here.
Throughout ‘Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3’ Tkay has led us across all the facets of her internal psyche and experiences that have held her down. ‘Breathe’ acts as a microcosm of all of these aspects, with the minor exception of it acting as a way for Tkay to triumphantly come to terms with her life to this point. Likewise, Tkay is encouraging us to embrace self-belief, to breathe in and to take in all of the good things and people around us, particularly with all of the chaos that always seems to find a way back in to our lives.
Regular collaborator Dan Farber’s presence on this EP maintains the consistency of his brilliant contributions to prior volumes whilst allowing Tkay to completely envelop the audience in the world she builds. Farber’s sophisticated touch runs through as the undercurrent of Vol. 3, matching moments of bliss with explosions of energy, making for a masterful technical effort. In addition, Farber is joined by the likes of two fresh (Sherwyn and Kendrick Nicholls) on ‘Onto Me’ and Jonathan Hoskins, George and Henry Flint on ‘So Cold’.
What undeniably comes with the territory of any Tkay project is a dedication to crafting an overall aesthetic. There is always a greater purpose in Tkay’s artistic pursuit with any project, and the motivation is undoubtedly to tie together the EP’s visual and musical elements to speak to her own journey. And within Vol. 3, the journey the listener is taken on reflects Tkay finding contentedness in and amongst the anxiety, chaos and hopeful longing for somewhere better.
Undoubtedly this acute understanding of the world has always been present within Tkay’s music, but on ‘Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3’ there is an intricate balance that Tkay has struck alongside production wizard Farber. Truly, Tkay’s intimate understanding of self is well evoked throughout the EP, an aspect which sees the Zimbabwean-born, Adelaide-raised artist striving for that perfect balance between unflappable confidence and at-peace Zen master. Ultimately, as the listener, what you’re left with is irrefutably one of the most enjoyable listen-throughs you’ll have all year. And indeed, the last year was weird, but Tkay has made this year and beyond all the more hopeful with Vol. 3.
Words by Matthew Badrov
Published July 15th, 2021