by Stephanie Casino
Sweden’s darling, Mapei, may be a newcomer to the “indie singer” scene, but she is definitely no naive youngster. Despite Mapei’s wise age of 30, her debut album Hey Hey has an extremely youthful vibe, filled with “first love” stories and cheery, uplifiting beats. Her music is fun and light, and gives pop music some extra funk. An extreme departure from her last musical venture Cocoa Butter Diaries (Mapei found moderate fame in the rap game a few years back, and even worked with electro group Justice), fans of hers may be completely shocked by the fact that Mapei can actually sing. It’s as if her voice was made to fit the soul-pop genre: light, moody, and easy to listen to, she can change vocal ranges at the drop of a hat.
Hey Hey was a result of hitting a creative block, and traveling the world in an effort to find what she should do with her musical talent. After deciding that her rap work with Justice wasn’t cutting it, Mapei went on to work with some of Europe’s finest (including influence from the European indie queen Lykke Li, a friend of hers). Her self discovery led her to a softer place, far from the harsh rap styles of Mapei circa 2009. Hey Hey was born of this recent self discovery, and it’ll likely launch Mapei into international pop star status.
The album’s best known work is “Don’t Wait”, garnering tens of thousands of listens on Soundcloud alone, and there are numerous remixes of the popular love song worldwide,including a version featuring up-and-comer Chance The Rapper. “Don’t Wait” is clearly the strongest song on her album, featuring confident vocals and relatable lyrics on top of a never-heard-before R&B inspired beat. A few of her tracks aren’t nearly as strong, mainly due to a lack in creative writing. All of her melodies are beautiful, some haunting and some harsh, but the lyrical work needs some massaging. A perfect example is heard in the track “Change” – “real love is all around/ it won’t let you down” it is extremely Katy Perry-esque. Her rap skills come into play with her track “Step Up”, although the beat is catchy, again the lyrics feel tacky: “You ain’t an MC, you ain’t no singer/ You and your company could get the finger”. “Blame It On Me” and “As 1” again, feature too-simple lyrics; I could see teeny-boppers blasting these two tracks on the way to cheerleading practice.
Youthful, yes…but is there depth in her song writing? One could question her chosen demographic after taking a good listen to this album. Mapei could definitely benefit from stronger lyrics. Her musical prowess is obvious, her singing voice is amazing, the woman can even rap – all parts to a formula equating in musical success. Hey Hey is no doubt an album that will launch Mapei into international popularity, but in regards to advancing Mapei’s career, we can only hope her next album will feature topics of a more experienced woman – a voice that women (and men) her age can relate to.