Sweet Justice

Sweet Justice

“I feel like I have a better sense of boundaries,” Tkay Maidza tells Apple Music. “I know what I do want to do and what I don't want to do. I stand up for myself a lot more, and when I go into the studio, I’m not questioning anything. I lost the sense of embarrassment.” The Zimbabwean Australian artist’s second LP comes seven years after her debut, Tkay, and two years after the final installment of her Last Year Was Weird EP trilogy. In those past couple years in particular, she recognized that she’d been giving too much attention to people who were holding her back. “Before I started making the album, I had this overarching feeling of being embarrassed or not doing the right thing all the time,” she says. Maidza struggled with motivation and faith in herself for a long period, until a series of co-writing sessions in LA in September 2022 saw her hit the accelerator. She found the confidence to listen to herself, to stop second-guessing, to take the high road. “It all just happened really quickly after a year and a half of being confused,” she says. “And I felt like I shouldn't question anything because it's been a while since I've been on a hot streak like that. I'm more confident in myself now. I'm less scared. And even when I do question myself, it’s different now. It’s not because I'm surrounded by people who constantly criticize me.” Sweet Justice is the sum total of that growth. It flows between hip-hop, house, and ’90s-inspired R&B, and features production from KAYTRANADA (“Our Way,” “Ghost!”) and Flume (“Silent Assassin,” which he also co-wrote). There are representations of the stages of grief Maidza encountered as she cleared her life of those holding her back—particularly anger and acceptance. Ultimately, though, it’s a proud acknowledgment of hard-won self-assurance; a wink and a middle finger up at everything and everyone quickly fading away in her rearview mirror. Below, she talks through key tracks on the album. “Silent Assassin” “I was letting go of a lot of people and while I was trying to separate myself from them, a lot of them were being really nosy, like, ‘You're not doing what you're supposed to be doing. What are you doing? You're supposed to be working.’ And little did they realize that I was working, it just didn't involve them. So this is basically me describing what I'm actually up to and what they don't understand. I’m continuing my life without them, basically.” “Ring-A-Ling” “This was one of the first songs where I had a sense of finally healing, I was coming from an empowered place. Before, I was trying to figure out how to finish the song. I was sleeping a lot, I was procrastinating a lot, and the song was almost like my spirit saying, ‘Wake up, babes, it's time to get the money. There's business calling you.’ It’s my inner cheerleader telling me to wake up and get it, because time keeps moving with or without you, and the more you keep moving, the more you get results.” “WUACV” “I was letting go of the old people in my life and there was a sense of sadness, but then there came this feeling of anger. I remember a lot of people on Twitter were writing, 'Woke up and chose violence.’ That was such a meme, and I wrote it down as a song title. Then I heard this beat and it sounded like a riot. I wanted to make something that you could mosh to at a show, but it was kind of sneaky and smart in a way, like, be patient. You’re holding in the anger and then you let it go and that can contain it. It's like, ‘I'm dangerous, don't try me. I could unleash, but I'm choosing not to.’ And I think the healthiest way for me to channel that was in the music. Otherwise, I'll just be doing unproductive things.” “Out of Luck” “One of my focuses was to make smooth songs that also hit hard. You can listen to it in your lounge room or you can go to a party and it's banging. When I heard the instrumental for ‘Out of Luck,’ the energy just really embodied that mood board for what a Tkay album should sound like. I was in this powerful stage coming through grievance and acceptance where I almost felt sorry for everyone. I'm like, ‘Damn, I'm really about to start flying off. I'm literally gone.’ And instead of thinking that I lost something, I think it's more powerful for girls to be like, ‘It was their loss.’” “Won One” “This one was really fun to do. I’m such a big fan of Aaliyah and Timbaland. So the mood board was around that inspiration, and also doubling down on the early-2000s idea by kind of interpolating USHER’s ‘U Remind Me,’ but flipping it to be from a girl's perspective. I really wanted to make songs that were about overcoming and reflecting, but not from a sad point of view. I think the lyrics are really honest—and I often feel that if you're able to speak about something, you've moved on from it. So the fact that I could actually express how I felt in a way that I haven't before was a new sense of maturity and growth in terms of accepting my past and being okay with it.” “What Ya Know” “One of the things I really wanted to do on this album was to build on the universe of house music. I wanted to make at least three house songs. The other goal for this one was to create almost a girl group. It sounds like there's three people on the song. And to embody this empowering feeling, like you're walking through a club and everyone's looking at you, and they just don't know what it is that keeps them looking at you. You can tell they're kind of confused, and you’re okay with that. It's like, ‘I've got a secret that you don't know about.’” “Walking on Air” “I really wanted a song that felt like that indie blog era, where they'd pitch up vocals. The concept was about almost wanting to be in this state of blissful ignorance and being okay with it. I feel like I walk through life that way, with blind optimism, and I wanted to capture it in a song. And it kind of wraps the whole album up in a way—nothing really matters as long as I'm sitting in this ‘ignorance is bliss’ state of mind and just being okay with not knowing what's going to happen.”

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