Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 EP
2021 • POP/RAP • 4AD
The final piece in the trilogy of EPs by the Zimbabwean-born Australian rapper isn’t quite as good as the other two but manages to prove the singer’s unquestionable talent.
In an interview with Apple Music, Tkay Maidza defined each of the parts of her Last Year Was Weird trilogy. For her, the first, with its lighter tones, was the day, while the second, worked in heavier and darker tones, was the night. The third, in turn, is the final piece and is seen by her as the next day. She added that all these projects are more like a rite of passage that will lead her to understand where she is and where she wants to go. “The music I’m making now is more like what I listen to. I wanted my perception and the way I feel to match up,” she said. However, as much as Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 still maintains the plateau that Maidza set for her, it is definitely weaker than its predecessors.
Right in the opening seconds, Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 already proves to be weaker than its two older brothers. The opener, “Eden,” while relatively good, is far from a good track to really open up your project, especially if you consider Vol. 2‘s first track, “My Flowers.” However, the most pertinent factor of this first track is that it is an instant reflection of the entire EP: it’s not bad at any time, however, you can’t deny that it’s not so memorable and catchy, it doesn’t count as such a daring production, and it doesn’t seem to make the most of its own context. In other words, when you look at the improvement from the first to the second and hear this last instance of the trilogy, you feel disappointed that you weren’t as surprised as you were before, but you still kinda have fun.
The more down-to-earth sound of Vol. 3 is perhaps going to be the project’s biggest disappointment. Compared to the others, despite appearing to have a wider sound, this one is less daring and less active on the listener. And those lukewarm moments of the record are concentrated right at the beginning, which, in a way, adds to the impact on your total experience with the record. While “Onto Me,” featuring UMI, is totally forgettable, “So Cold,” manages to be a little more hit, but it doesn’t equal the great hits Maidza has proven herself capable of. Finally, the EP’s final track, “Breathe,” is another weak moment because it’s simply forgettable. Although it has some qualities that you can notice while listening to it, it will have lost all its luster and fallen into oblivion a few minutes later.
However, Vol. 3 also carries several golden moments, though not in the most potent way. “Syrup” is when the EP starts to heat up and work out. The track features chunky industrial synths and drums with Tkay performing an incredible flow as she sings, “I just wanna be rich/Thick, sweet, sick/Syrup, syrup, syrup.” Then “Kim,” with even more experimental instrumentals, brings back memories of an old Disney TV show. But the most amazing thing is how Tkay, alongside Yung Baby Tate, manages to make the track have this incredible progression, making the sound more intense, creating this memorable escalation, and transforming tiresome repetitions on the hook into something really interesting. Meanwhile “High Beams,” which comes up with an interesting mix of grand church vocals and hip-hop sampled beats, contrasts with “Cashmere,” a kind of mellow pop ballad that shows the singer in a destructive relationship.
However, despite all these qualities, you can’t help but wish Maidza had gone further. Considering this is the first EP in the trilogy to have had its process affected by a year of social isolation, lockdown, and pandemic, it’s clear that she could have worked several other themes with a firmer, more incisive hand. Instead, Maidza seems to have been more focused on the drama of her personal and private life than anything more encompassing, which perhaps would have actually been more interesting in this case. But you might not complain too much since here Maidza proves that, at worst, she delivers things that don’t surprise you that much. Something bad is always out of the question for her.