Tkay Maidza - Tkay

Hip-hop loves to draw from its influences. Australian hip-hop artist Tkay Maidza draws from her African background in her debut record Tkay.

The Zimbabwean born Maidza has a lot of appeal in her debut. It's not dull hip-hop we've become used to. Instead, colorful instrumentals and melodies accompany her young and refreshing voice. The album begins with the high energy, intense 'Always Been,' a big of a misleading track to open the record yet does hype it up. It's dark and dramatic, the beat strong and the delivery packed with grime influence. The bars are pretty quick fire, but there's a recognizable reference to Kanye West's 'Black Skinhead' in there that'll pique you're ear in case you can't pick up on anything else.

There are several other songs that go hard. 'Carry On,' with Run The JewelsKiller Mike on the track, throwing down above the synthy bass between the upbeat but still urgent chorus. A darker presence envelops 'State Of Mind,' bouncy synths radiating ominous vibes on top of Maidza's gun of a mouth paired paranoid harmonies.

The majority of the record finds itself being poppier. The instrumental of 'Simulation' channels Sia almost blatantly, yet the vocals' light melodies soar high above the 'Cheap Thrills' reminiscent synth. There are thicker, dancier songs like 'Monochrome' that robotically have some groove to them. The muddy instrumental helps elevate the poppier lyrics. 'Drumsticks No Guns' is a fun-loving track, infectiously cute synths bouncing happily throughout the track. 'Castle In The Sky' is the pinnacle of the album's pop tracks, the sweet melodies pairing with the strongest and punchiest instrumental on the record, dynamic brass synths pairing with various acoustic instrumentation and electronics.

Sometimes it goes a little too far. With the pop influence, there are a few annoying tracks, like 'Tennies.' The song starts okay, but there has to be a limit as to how many times you can sing "tennies" before it gets old. The beat features some cool instrumentation, some bongos sounding with a punchy string instrumental, but even those can't save the song from its muddy tendencies. The big vibes of 'Supasonic' are interrupted by pretty annoying lyrics.

Tkay has all of the the uncertainties of a debut record, but it definitely holds its ground. It's an indicator of a new threat on the block with Tkay Maidza - she's bound to be something big in the hip-hop and pop world. It's a refreshing new sound and certainly one that won't be getting old anytime soon. Now we sit back and watch a career unfold.

Favorite Tracks: Castle In The Sky, Always Been

Least Favorite Tracks: Tennies, Supasonic, House Of Cards

Rating: 73 / 100

Run The Jewels - 'Talk To Me'

The hip-hop world revving up, it seems. Yesterday offered up new Drake and new music from Run The Jewels, too!

The eclectic duo of El-P and Killer Mike are back with 'Talk To Me,' the first new song they've shared this year. It's part of Adult Swim's Singles Program running for the next month, and is to be featured on their upcoming effort Run The Jewels 3.

'Talk To Me' is everything you'd want and expect of Run The Jewels. It begins ominously with pounding, brassy synths and an urgent beat with a sort of cartoonish panic in them. The bassy synth carries the low end of the track as various synths and samples sound throughout the track to help carry its slamming nature. There's lots of interesting moments throughout it, including the awesome end where the instrumental distorts itself before it's taken over by powerful scratching.

Killer Mike has been heavily delving into politics this election cycle, and his frustrations of it become clear in 'Talk To Me.' Right from the get-go, he's slamming Donald Trump, the lines "Went to war with the devil and shaytan / He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan" featuring in the first verse. El-P's verses are just as politically charged, the second verse spitting "Brave men didn't die face down in the Vietnam mud so I could not style on you / I didn't walk uphill both ways to the booth and back to not wile on you / You think baby Jesus killed Hitler just so I'd whisper?" The song's badass nature sends one succinct message: don't mess with RTJ.

Run The Jewels have been hyping up their third album for awhile, and we've all been waiting at the edge of our seats. It's been a long wait, but's almost over. An interlude in the song says "I told y'all suckers, I told y'all suckers. I told y'all on RTJ1, then I told ya again on RTJ2, and you still ain't believe me. So here we go, RTJ3," foreshadowing that their third record isn't losing any momentum or character. If anything, it'll be bigger than the previous ones were. We're ready for it.

Rating: 87 / 100