Tyla: Tyla Album Assessment | Pitchfork


“Water,” Tyla’s first main label single, had a uncommon form of alchemy: sultry, cheeky vocals on a damp dancefloor anthem with a refrain so divine that listening to it time and again was really interesting. The 22-year-old’s lithe mix of amapiano and R&B shot her to seemingly on the spot ubiquity within the second half of 2023, as “Water” blasted from streetside subwoofers, by membership sound techniques, and throughout the TikToks of younger acolytes and attractive dudes. (The tune’s oiled-up video featured Tyla slow-wining as she doused herself with a bottle of agua, accounting partly for the attractive dudes.) Slightly over six months after its launch, “Water” had earned Tyla the Recording Academy’s first-ever Grammy for African Music Efficiency, edging out world superstars like Burna Boy and Davido, in addition to Asake and Olamide’s well-deserving “Amapiano.” It was the form of trade anointment—off one huge single, not but an album—that aspiring pop stars dream about.

Although amapiano has ascended from South African golf equipment to the worldwide charts, the broad enchantment of “Water” lies in Tyla’s voice, which appears attuned to up to date R&B in the identical approach that Rihanna’s debut single “Pon de Replay” was geared to separate the center between pop and dancehall. Tyla’s pre-“Water” music, crafted not lengthy after she graduated highschool, inclined in direction of the underground; her first single “Getting Late,” from 2019, emphasised the sparse interaction between her angelic voice and club-centric 808s. “Been Pondering,” from 2021, had its personal anthemic refrain and a intelligent interpolation of Nelly’s “Sizzling in Herre,” displaying her admiration for Y2K-era radio hits on a rhythm whose lineage threaded by South African kwaito and again to a different diasporic style, UK funky.

On her debut album Tyla, she flexes her constancy to pop-R&B, weaving by its lingua franca—attraction to unhealthy boys, puzzlement over unhealthy boys, and eventually the cathartic elation of shifting on. It helps that the album pulses with amapiano’s log-drum heartbeat, with Wizkid collaborator and “Water” producer Sammy SoSo co-helming most tracks and brushing them to silky fluidity. The terrain is acquainted however Tyla is playful inside it, as on “Breathe Me,” a tune about intercourse with a paramedic analogy (“Mouth to mouth while you’re touching me/Open up child I’ll fill your lungs/CPR”) and a song-length meditation on how Tyla’s physique is worthy of a high-end gallery (“ART”).

She’s a savvy singer, able to a full belt whereas largely residing within the realm of sensuous breathiness, which provides her songs the air of an inside monologue. The vocal intimacy betrays her influences—she’s studied the Aaliyah canon—and her rendition is dedicated however cool, like she’s singing from the again of the membership and hasn’t but eliminated her sun shades. In “On and On,” the Babygirlest of those tracks in title and execution, she unwinds the refrain as if whispering a secret, her simple melisma slinking by the bass.


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