Tkay Maidza – Tkay review

Tkay Maid­za does not make com­pli­ant, eas­i­ly defined music. Her debut album, Tkay, is brac­ing, rad­i­cal hip hop and R&B from a top­sy-turvy world that’s very much her own.

Maid­za, who was born in Zim­bab­we, and grew up in Ade­laide, Aus­tralia, com­bines rapid cadence and sur­re­al­ism in a way that makes her music audi­bly ani­mat­ed. That’s what attract­ed to me her when I heard ‘U‑Huh’ in late 2014: her mad-cap ener­gy that’s as live­ly as the Sat­ur­day morn­ing car­toons of your youth.

That ener­gy flows through­out Tkay, threat­en­ing to explode like a fizzy soda bot­tle. “It’s like we are the rolling stones and it’s the bat­tle of the ages” Maidza’s voice echoes on ‘Cas­tle in the Sky’, a mor­eish blend of crushed syn­thet­ic drones and steady­ing per­cus­sion. Next, she’s rap­ping about replac­ing guns with drum­sticks over a cock­tail of trop­i­cal pop rhythms (‘Drum­sticks No Guns’). Imme­di­ate­ly after­wards she changes form again on ‘State of Mind’, her sul­try cho­rus vocals more Rihan­na-esque, while her rap vers­es project the influ­ence of Nic­ki Minaj and Azealia Banks.

Tkay can leave you feel­ing breath­less from its hyper­ac­tive word­play and bevy of musi­cal styles that could rival a Japan­ese rhythm game. But it’s nev­er bor­ing. Maid­za capa­bly mar­ries the left-field tex­tures of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and TheeSat­is­fac­tion on a song like ‘Car­ry On’, and can just as quick­ly slip into the sul­try stylings of Rihan­na or Kelis. Maidza’s album feels like it has much in com­mon with Kelis’ own debut: after all, Tkay is a colour­ful, siz­zling, per­son­al­i­ty-filled musi­cal buf­fet that refus­es to be categorised.


Tkay is out now on Kit­suné Musique/Red Essential.

If you like this artist, check out: Kelis; TheeSat­is­fac­tion

Image: cour­tesy of Tkay Maidza