Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Aya Nakamura – Djadja

And finally in Bad Poetry Tagline Wednesday, it’s Aya Nakamura and her kiss-off bravura.

Jonathan Bogart: When this popped up for review only a few days after I’d gone through all of Aya Nakamura’s singles in an effort to beef up my awareness of current French-language Afropop (and/or French pop of African origin), I admit I was a little startled: are the Jukebox selectors watching my YouTube history? But no, “Djadja” is charting in France, which is no doubt why the algorithm served it up to me in the first place, and while it’s not my favorite of her recent singles (that would be the rather more sinister “Drogué”, from January), it’s a solid vaguely tropical pop song, a kiss-off to a guy spreading rumors about her. The rather lycée-age topic feels a bit odd coming from such a self-possessed thirty-two year old, but songs about fuckboys are evergreen.

Crystal Leww: The song starts with a some steel drums, a “Hello papi, que pasa?,” and the dancehall beat kicks in, so it’s a bit of a surprise to hear that “Djadja” turns out to be in French! Aya Nakamura is supposed to be giving a dude attitude, but something about her tone and the production feels too light and sunny to fit. This can’t figure out if it wants to care about him or not — either give him hell or act like you’ve above it, girl! — and ends up leaving very little impression at all. Aya Nakamura ends up looking like that fine but eh girl you ghosted earlier this year.

Tim de Reuse: An airy, half-empty trop-pop template, in which Nakamura seems to be having fun — not a lot, but at least she’s not phoning it in. The stretchy rhythm of “en Catchana baby tu dead ça” is pleasant on the ears and slightly hilarious before it’s repeated and repeated and slightly revised and then repeated some more.

Jibril Yassin: A refreshing slice of dancehall that has Aya Nakamura casually breezing past the bouncy percussion, rattling off verses with the energy of the kiss-offs they happen to be.

Rachel Bowles: Aya Nakamura seems to be thoroughly over her recent love d’un voyou immediately shaking off any starry eyed dreams of Byronic anti hero thugs with a barbed “Hello papi mais qué pasa?.” “Djadja”‘s irresistibly danceable afrobeats belie just how serious Aya is as she proves that she is not a lady to be fucked with (“Catchana baby tu dead ça….”) It’s not a surprise that the Malian French singer hails from the griot tradition, her seamlessly polyglot vocals offer a smart, flippant counterpoint to the song’s rhythms — perfect for hip swinging as you low key simmer about your douchebag ex.

Iain Mew: She named herself after a character from Heroes, everyone. Appropriately it’s the sense of larger-than-life revelling in drama that is the most charming thing about “Djadja.” She’s so over what this guy is doing that the only thing left to do is turn it funny, to give all the details in a “can you believe this shit?” tone, as withering as something more direct, but more enjoyable for her.

Reader average: [2.85] (7 votes)

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