Not All Australian Rappers…
Kat Stevens: My mother has just bought her mid-life crisis Mazda MX5, approximately 25 years after said crisis was resolved but better late than never. I expect I will shortly be press-ganged into sitting in the passenger seat avec headscarf/sunglasses and pretending to “drive into the Grand Canyon” (two laps round Ruislip Lido). I will loudly complain about how embarrassing it all is but of course enjoy myself immensely. But what to blast on the speakers as we bump the suspension up and down the B436? Mother Dearest is very hardcore \m/ but would still probably give me a Hard Stare and write me out of the will if I put “212” on the car stereo. Maybe this less filthy alternative will suffice for pimping her new ride. It’s definitely better than Glenn Frey, and if we yell “chitty bang bang” enough times maybe we’ll end up FLYING to the Lido?
Hazel Robinson: As soon as I hit play I did a mental “FUUUUCK” — this is huge and pumped full of Prince’s strut and the just-out-of-braces snot of the kind of young female rapper who wants to both make you dance and make white boys throw embarrassing shapes. Fucking revelatory.
Luisa Lopez: I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this: these beautiful deep rattling drops layered beneath the swooping birdlike entrance and exit of her voice, turning this into some blossoming boombox anthem, a mess of noises clamoring together to produce a loud, explosive reckoning ready to lead us into autumn. When I was a teenager (a brief Googling shows that Tkay Maidza is 19, which you can hear when she drops her voice into that disaffected drawl of flavooooor) I grew up in a suburbia as pale as it was terrifying, and I used to get a great rush from, of all things, walking the dog. I liked collecting the sounds that would come out of nowhere — a neighbor yelling, a cat scratching the driveway, two boys playing basketball, a group of matches sparking by the highway — and turning them into music. I like to think the same thing happened here.
Will Adams: Over a track that sounds like “Galang” spray painted electric blue, Tkay Maidza finds the vocal midpoint between M.I.A.’s insouciance, Gwen Stefani’s dorkiness and Santigold’s élan.
Rebecca A. Gowns: Given the timing of this release, joking comparisons have been made to Iggy Azalea, but even if it’s to highlight that Tkay can display more talent in one song than Iggy has shown us in a series of singles, it’s apples to oranges. Tkay’s words flow like a witty conversation, friendly and full of natural pops and drawls. The track underneath is also jovial, packed full of noise — each noise like a member of a party, all engaged in earnest conversation with one another — reminding me of M.I.A. and Rye Rye. Sometimes “U-Huh” rings with a sound that reminds me of a few summers ago, but Tkay’s rapping keeps the whole thing current and relevant. Like eating your morning slice of toast and marmalade and discovering a rich cheese has replaced your usual butter.
Andy Hutchins: Betwixt and between az(e)al(e/i)as, this blast of fun exists, but the easiest comparisons don’t work so well: Tkay leans into her punches a little like Rye Rye, is buried in her party-ready mix like Le1f so often is, and mush-mouths her third verse like a grime vet. A full handle of personality poured into a ketchup cup.
Patrick St. Michel: That sounds a lot like Godzilla roaring down in the buzzy beat, and what a fantastic detail. This is a confrontational song, one where the music sounds like it’s ready to drive a shoulder into someone, yet Tkay Maidza zips through the monster sounds and cloistering beat like it’s all fun to her. She even lets her voice get high on helium — she’s loving this.
Crystal Leww: One of my favorite things about rap music is how rappers often use their regional dialects to bend, stretch, shorten and mold words into the right shapes and rhyme schemes. Tkay Maidza is assisted by that grounding synth and a hook that just falls out of her mouth, but the driver is how Maidza’s personality jumps out of the verses. Notice how lazily those rhyme scenes in verses one and two — “favour”/”behaviour”/”table”/”hater”/”paper”/”radar” — end, with the final part dragged out so that it all fits. It’s an absurd gimmick that would sound like it were masking something if it weren’t for the third verse. That verse is a showcase, clear by how practically all in the beat drops out except for a winding airhorn. It’s all rapidfire, and yet she can still drag the end of those words so that “genie” and “meaning” fit right next to each other, and she still has time to wink “Don’t think that you are achieving / my trust can be so deceiving.” I’m about to pass out from swooning so hard.
Anthony Easton: Most of these points are for how she just pushes all meaning out of the syllables in “behavior.” The rest of them are for how accurate and fast her flow is.
Danilo Bortoli: “The only thing which consoles us for our miseries is diversion,” a famous writer said before his definition of diversion became a cliché all by itself. I quote this because when I listen to “U-Huh” all I can think about is Maidza’s own vision of pure enjoyment. The unsuspecting listener could interpret Maidza’s cheerfulness as simple hedonism (the kind of gullibility that ruins great pop songs). But in “U-Huh”, her misery is represented by everything that is keeping her from happiness, the bass-heavy background giving both the song and Tkay credibility. You can’t, or at least shouldn’t, blame her for simply going after her consolation when she’s got a hook like this.
Katherine St Asaph: Three minutes of sticking your head beneath a technicolor monster wave; virtuosity and force pummel you into dance and awe. I can’t wait until the industry fails to make her a massive ginormous star.
David Sheffieck: Ridiculously fun and infectious, this is the sort of song that demonstrates how the ongoing collision of EDM, rap, and pop can lead to more than just homogeneity. Maidza demonstrates enough personality that I find myself believing in a future where we can talk about Aussie pop stars without the need for thinkpieces.
Jonathan Bradley: Big neon blocks of sound ram their way through “U-Huh,” but Maidza, in both personality and presence, shines bigger and brighter. She bounds over a pinging and clicking beat, thumbing her nose at the hatuuuuuuhs and concocting a “chitty-bang-bang” chant playful enough to suit the magical car. It’s great to see American writers criticise Iggy Azalea for her cultural insensitivities; it would be even greater to see them give that attention to an Australian rapper with twice her talent and none of her bullshit.
Brad Shoup: Double-time flow, Project Pat line endings and an arena rock chorus that’s mostly wordless. Now is always the best time for music.