In Review: Tkay Maidza - Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3

Maidza gets fearless with her new EP, and with the chameleonic, genre-defiant artist at the fore, Australian hip-hop is poised for a renaissance.
Posted: 9 July 2021 Words: Isaac Bartels

For Tkay Maidza, 2020 was a year of success. Her EP, Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, gave her exposure to American shores, Spotify notoriety and acclaim amongst Fantano-core enthusiasts. A follow-up EP was shortly announced, stoking immediate excitement for what would come next. How on earth was she going to top an EP stacked with flawless features, unimpeachable production, and effortless baton-passing of rap and vocals?

Faced with the pressure of following up her career- (and year-) best work with Vol. 2, Tkay Maidza gets fearless with Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 and does the impossible: outdoing it. 

The 25-year old hip-hop/R&B/synthpop chameleon continues her streak of effortless genre-defiance with Vol. 3. The latest 8-track showcase features some of her strongest material yet. Opener ‘Eden’ gives us the latest update on Maidza’s success - “I’m feeling great, I’m feeling eager” - as she comments on the ever-changing state of streaming success - “Money will come and will go, too many queens on the throne.” 

Every metaphor of this EP subverts your pedestrian assumptions. ‘Syrup’ isn’t a euphemism - Maidza just wants to be like it - “rich, thick, sweet, sick.” She’s not bragging about a rich, luxurious lifestyle - she’s “soft” like ‘Cashmere.’ And ‘Kim?’ Think beyond a Kardashian. Maidza is Kim Possible! “Anything's possible, go ask your mans, I saw him naked and ghosted him since / Guess I'm the one that be wearin' the pants, signin’ them papers and shakin' them hands,” she chants. Pitting herself in a verbal battle against Yung Baby Tate’s Shego, the two MCs conduct a wild tribute to early Gen-Z childhoods spent watching the Disney channel.

Of the new tracks released, the highlight is doubtlessly ‘So Cold’, the bassline absolutely dripping with funk. Washing her hands of men who couldn’t measure up, you believe every declaration of Maidza’s independence - “And the dudes they can't fool me with old tricks, I don't need permission, I'ma ghost quick… I’m better than ever, no ties to whoever, whichever, no ever, not trading no pleasure,” she rap-sings with conviction. It succeeds on every front, with it, ‘Syrup’ and ‘Kim’ echoing the insane 3-track stretch of Vol. 2’s ‘24k’, ‘Shook’ and ‘Awake.’

The real coup of Vol. 3 is its immediacy. Each track lands with instant attraction; never sprawling, but always teasing us for more. Between her instinctive talent of what makes a good flow and lead producer Dan Farber’s eclectic, unique sense of the craft, it’s such an incredible thrill to witness an artist who just… gets it.

Nobody in Australia, quite frankly, is doing it like Maidza. Between her and fellow countryman Genesis Owusu, Australian hip-hop is poised for a renaissance in 2021. With her sophomore album on the horizon, it’s time for Tkay Maidza to ascend. She’s ready - but are we?

Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 is out now via 4AD

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