10 things you need to know about Tkay Maidza
© Tkay Maidza
Before she performs as part of Red Bull Music Motel -- a one of a kind live music getaway happening on December 5 -- get to know rap hero Tkay Maidza a little better.
Australia first met Tkay Maidza in 2013. She was only 17 then but her talent seemed to arrive fully-formed: she could rap, she could sing, she could perform and she made it all look effortless.
Seven years on, it’s clear that Tkay is one of those artists who only gets better with time. After a few years of making hit singles that melded dance-pop and hip-hop, in 2016 Tkay delivered her self-titled debut album. It was one that changed the game for Australian hip-hop. Then, in the years that followed, Tkay levelled up even further as she began playing with both smooth, R&B-tinged jams and fiery, high-octane rap songs.
Now signed to acclaimed British label 4AD, 2020 has felt like the start of a new era for Tkay -- one in which her sound is more assured than ever before.
This December, Tkay will get to show off her forward-thinking approach to hip-hop at Red Bull Music Motel, a one of a kind live music getaway. From the comfort of your home, Red Bull Music Motel will give you a front-row seat to performances from Tkay Maidza as well as G Flip and Baker Boy. It all streams live from 6pm on Saturday December 5, hosted by Linda Marigliano and The Inspired Unemployed.
To be there, you just have to RSVP. But while we wait for Red Bull Music Motel to roll around, read on to get to know a little more about Tkay Maidza.
#1 She calls Adelaide home
Tkay was born in Zimbabwe but moved to Australia at age 5. Initially her family lived in Perth and Kalgoorlie in WA before making the move to South Australia -- first to Whyalla and then to Adelaide, the city Tkay now calls home.
“I’ve lived here for ten years,” she told Red Bull. “It’s cute, I like to come back. My family’s here, my friends are here.”
#2 Her first single was the stomping ‘Brontosaurus’
Back in 2013, Tkay Maidza arrived with a bang with her debut single ‘Brontosaurus’.
The track introduced then 17-year-old Tkay as a formidable talent. It also typified the sound of her early years -- a blend of hip-hop and fun, energetic electronic music. Her sound has evolved a lot since then, but ‘Brontosaurus’ remains a banger.
#3 She’s also a former tennis star
Before she stepped into the world of music, Tkay had her sights set on another field: sport.
As a teen, the multi-talent was a budding tennis star who played competitively, practiced daily and was even trained by Lleyton Hewitt’s former coach. “I played for like, ten years,” she told Red Bull. “The reason why I moved to Adelaide was for tennis before I decided I should do music”.
Tkay says she “never looked back” after choosing hip-hop -- but in a nod to her past, she did name a track on her 2016 debut album after her tennis shoes or, as she calls them, “tennies”.
#4 She collaborated with Martin Solveig
Tkay has long been an in-demand vocalist ---- especially in the world of electronic music.
Across her career, she’s teamed up with the likes of Troye Sivan, Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike, Paces and Basenji. But perhaps her biggest collab’ of all was with Frenchman Martin Solveig on the 2016 hit ‘Do It Right’, a track that helped to propel Tkay’s star internationally.
“That was such a big moment for me,” Tkay recalls. “My favourite music video of his is ‘Hello’ and he’s literally playing tennis with [Novak] Djokovic and I think [Gaël] Monfeis was in there too.”
The pair got their own good-looking video for ‘Do It Right’, shot at Spain’s famous La Muralla Roja apartment complex.
#5 She had a sonic turning point with ‘White Rose’
In 2018, Tkay turned over a new leaf with the silky smooth ‘White Rose’.
After spending years making high-energy tracks like ‘M.O.B’ and ‘Simulation’, with ‘White Rose’ she switched things up and created, as she describes it, “a very slow jam”. It signalled the start of a new direction for Tkay.
“When I made that song, it felt like a turning point,” she told Red Bull. “Because I’d never written a song like that, so it just opened a new world of possibilities for me.”
#6 She has three volumes of Last Year Was Weird in store for us
That new direction was explored fully on Last Year Was Weird Vol. 1, an eight track EP that showcased a different sound to Tkay’s debut album -- incorporating reggae influences in her music for the first time.
Then, in 2020, she returned to deliver the sequel release, Last Year Was Weird Vol. 2. The EP titles were inspired by a period of change in her personal and professional life -- the feeling of “going through all of those life things, losing and learning” and “waking up and seeing everything for what it was,” Tkay recently told Pitchfork.
And there’s more to come: “It’s meant to be part of a trilogy and I’m really excited to show you the next one,” Tkay says.
#7 She just collaborated with two of America’s most exciting rap names
Tkay’s assured new sound reached new heights with 2020’s impeccable Last Year Was Weird Vol. 2, which spawned four big singles including ‘Shook’ and ‘IDC IF U BE DED’.
For the second instalment in the trilogy, she recruited US hip-hop identity JPEGMAFIA on the full-throttle ‘Awake’ and rapper-vocalist Kari Faux on the soulful ‘Don’t Call Again’.
“I think they’re really cool, they’re really creative and they killed it with their verses on each song,” Tkay told Red Bull. “They elevated the project.”
#8 She (probably) won’t reply to your 1am message
Last Year Was Weird Vol. 2 also delivered another big single in ‘You Sad’, Tkay’s missive to fuckboys everywhere. “Three AM, you alone right now / I can't come to the phone right now / You sad,” Maidza raps on the track.
The video clip sees her recieve -- and ignore -- a ‘You Up?’ text message. Because, Tkay says: “We all know someone who hits us up at like 1am and we definitely shouldn’t respond. But we do.”
#9 She toured Europe with one of her idols
Tkay has toured with a lot of big names -- Mark Ronson, Charli XCX, Rita Ora, Troye Sivan. But in early 2020, she got to hit Europe with an artist that felt especially significant to her: New York’s Princess Nokia.
“She is so cool, great music and she’s such an inspiring female,” Tkay told Red Bull. “I’ve grown up looking up to her and being able to tour Europe [with her] was mind-blowing.”
#10. TikTok has her shook
“Just got the Jeep lock, fit is lookin' pish-posh/ I be in my bag, I don't dance around TikTok,” Tkay raps on the coolly-assured ‘Shook’.
She talks a big game but Tkay admits that this particular lyric may not be 100 percent accurate. “If you go on TikTok you’ll probably find me dancing on TikTok, so…” she laughs.
Tkay Maidza is performing at Red Bull Music Motel, which streams live from 6pm on Saturday December 5. For your front row seat, RSVP now.