Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Tkay Maidza has now been in and around the Australian Hip-Hop scene for six years but on Last Year Was Weird Pt 2 seems to really be finding her musical identity and people are paying attention. Between rocking most of Australia's biggest festival stages, a charting debut album in 2016 and working with Hip Hop legends such as Killer Mike, Tkay has already tasted a ton of success. However, something feels different this time as Tkay recounts a year where in searching for herself, she finds her sound.
Tkay recounts a year where in searching for herself, she finds her sound.
On Last Year Was Weird Pt 2, Tkay wears a lot of hats, but she finds a way to make each one match the same stunning outfit. The EP feels almost like Tkay’s competing in a decathlon, on every track she finds a completely new way to flaunt her prowess, yet it all feels like part of the same race. Tkay’s versatility is encapsulated when the room-shaking industrial production on ‘Grasshopper’ seamlessly slips right into lofi strums of ‘You Sad’, it feels like putting hot sauce on ice cream, it shouldn’t make sense but it just really really works. Tkay is not only talented and dynamic, but also extremely charismatic and there isn’t a single track on this EP that fails to remind us all of that.
Tkay is not only talented and dynamic, but also extremely charismatic and there isn’t a single track on this EP that fails to remind us all of that.
Across all art forms we’ve seen countless artistic expressions of how to describe a year in one's 20’s and it doesn’t come much more poignant than ‘Last Year Was Weird’. On ‘My Flowers’ Tkay croons ‘I am too young to die/I’m feeling too old to cry’, succinctly summarising how so many feel in their 20’s. It really can feel a lot like trying to assemble an Ikea bed but there are pieces missing, the instructions are in hieroglyphics and you’ve just become the 3rd person in your immediate friendship circle to be diagnosed with IBS.
However, Tkay takes us straight from these ponderous internal examinations into the highs of her year, as she finds a pocket within the Kaytranada-esque funk of ‘24k’ to flex all over everyone. Here Tkay redefines her youthfulness ‘Young, reckless, you can’t test it/My Game bigger ‘cause I’m built like Tetris’. There’s unmistakeable influence from contemporaries such as Goldlink or Duckwrth (who she collaborated with on ‘Flexin’) but as always, Tkay finds a way to put her stamp on it. The braggadocio does not stop here, as on ‘Shook’ Tkay anthemically reminds us again of the impact she’s making as she hurtles her way through the Hip-Hop world.
Last November I was lucky enough to see Tkay perform an exclusive pop-up show, which makes me professionally qualified to tell you that the next two tracks ‘Awake’ and ‘Grasshopper’ absolutely erupt the crowd when performed live. Tkay touches on both her insomnia and work ethic as the perpetually enigmatic JPEGMAFIA joins her on ‘Awake’, and unabashedly remembers smashing through barriers on ‘Grasshopper’. These two tracks are Tkay at her coldest, as her voice sharply cuts through the booming industrious production, almost reminiscent of Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’. The hurricane that is ‘Grasshopper’ becomes the gentle sigh of rain on the roof as it transitions into ‘You Sad’. With her tongue comfortably nestled inside her cheek, Tkay humorously pokes fun at the boy she’s been ‘duckin’. However, there is a sincerity to her tone as she sings ‘we can’t go on’, leaving you to wonder whether this humour maybe operates as an emotional cloak to disguise the real pain of a relationship that never was. ‘PB Jam’ continues in a similar vein as Tkay searchingly explores her frantic life as an artist, while also hinting towards a relationship that has suffered due to that same frantic nature.
As she continues to bend genres and mature as a songwriter, you can’t help but feel there are seriously exciting things to come from her.
This culminates in one of my very favourite songs this year, the album closer ‘Don’t Call Again’. In a hook that will super glue itself inside your head, Tkay almost oozes ‘No, don’t hit my line/Please don’t call again’. This track is definitely the most lyrically focused and vulnerable Tkay is on the whole EP. Her voice turns tender as she raps ‘I got some new emotions in me, hope you never notice/You got my vision hazy, hangin’, almost lost my focus/Out of murky water, I would blossom like a lotus/I guess that getting hurt is just a big part of the process’. It feels like Tkay has kept foreshadowing small snowballs of very real pain, that avalanche into this spectacular closing track. I’d also feel foolish if I skipped over the short yet strong verse from US rapper Kari Faux who confidently carries a boombap adjacent flow as she cruises over the instrumental.
Australian Hip Hop is an extremely exciting place and after this EP, Tkay might just be leading the charge. The EP has demanded and received critical acclaim across the world and as much as anything, Tkay just sounds like a star. As she continues to bend genres and mature as a songwriter, you can’t help but feel there are seriously exciting things to come from her. As far as years go, they don’t get much weirder than 2020, but the year is undoubtedly better for having this EP in it.