Friday, June 5th, 2020

Tkay Maidza – Shook

Oh, we are…


[Video]
[7.10]

Leah Isobel: Tkay’s 2014 breakout rested on her ability to project effortless cool and boundless enthusiasm at the same time; “Shook” maintains the former by tempering the latter. She still slip-slides around syllables like the Cheshire Cat or Azealia Banks, but where she used to lean her voice into tracks with sing-song glee, here she deadpans her way though a dizzying series of brags. I miss the optimism, but her laid-back bravado is its own kind of charm.
[7]

David Moore: Am I the biggest music-critic-adjacent Tkay Maidza booster? (If I’m not, the other one(s) probably write for the Jukebox already.) Can you be a back-handed stan? Well, here’s more faint praise: Maidza reminds me of a YouTube star who can impersonate fifty famous singers. Her Missy cosplay here swings for the fences and, perhaps inevitably, falls a bit short, even if it is probably better than most of the songs Missy Elliott has actually put out lately.
[6]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A gleeful exercise in homage (there’s a bit of Lizzo & Missy & Aminé & Slumpgod & Chingy mixed in here) that doesn’t end up too reverential to groove on its own. It’s not as effortlessly cool as her earlier hits, but even in its more awkward phrasings and lazier lines Maidza still impresses. She’s let down a bit by the beat, which is a bit too faux-Lex Luger for my taste, but if she can float on production like this, she can float anywhere.
[7]

William John: Back in 2014, Katherine quipped that she couldn’t “wait until the industry fails to make [Tkay Maidza] a massive ginormous star”, and nearly six years later none of her solo singles have more than a million views on Youtube. But that can’t be for want of a will to bedazzle – “Shook”, her latest release and first on iconic imprint 4AD, begins with a thunderous approximation of “Can You Feel It” and never really lets up from there, romping its way through more hooks than should be allowed in a runtime of under three minutes. The play count numbers might undercut the braggadocio on display, but once again Maidza has the attention of everyone who’s bothered enough to pay attention.
[9]

Alfred Soto: She deserves more than the adverb qualifier “kinda”: kinda cool, kinda interesting, kinda powerful. But no way will you erase the qualifier when “Shook,” well, let’s cite the lyrics, does play by the book.
[4]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Keep ’em shook” is the word, but Tkay Maidza keeps it simple and uses her raps to invite, not intimidate. The decision not to treat the beat as grounds for a battle cypher feels like an opportunity missed given its spaciousness — a fertile ground for infinite rhyme schemes to get on the offense. She makes up for it with chic playfulness, via old-school revival tactics reminiscent of Missy Elliott, from the stretchy rhymes to the Rick Rubin-esque playground beat.
[6]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Tkay Maidza’s haters may be shook, but she sounds like she can’t be bothered. Every syllable of “Shook” is cold, swaggering, and surgically enunciated. There are too many lyrical highlights to pick from, but my favorite comes early in the first verse: “Two up, flip to a racist” rapped so cavalierly that now you’re shook too. 
[8]

Alex Clifton: Eat your heart out, Azealia Banks!!
[9]

Edward Okulicz: Lots of fun for what it is, even if what it is could be summarised as “Here’s some bits from some Missy Elliott songs you like” with a bonus part of “also ‘Tempo’ by Lizzo, Missy’s bit on that, too.” Maidza’s charisma is undeniable, and the flat, hypnotic throb of the beat is enhanced by little squiggles of colour here and there. It’s all good. Of course, the intro and outro hint at directions not taken, in the case of the latter — could Tkay Maidza get away with like, doing a bounce track? I bet she could.
[7]

Tobi Tella: I don’t care that I can’t go out, I will throw ass in my parents’ house for this.
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