Whether singing or rapping, ayoka has already proven to us this year that she’s an ace performer when she has the spotlight fixed on her vocal. There’s something about the presence she has in a track that translates as earnest and rousing no matter the subject matter of the song she’s cutting, and in her new single “Weekend,” she offers up what could be one of her most driving studio performances so far.
In “Weekend,” her voice is accompanied by a savage rhythm that forces her to push the verses a little harder than she normally would, ultimately giving us the polar opposite of the sardonic substance a lot of her contemporaries have been producing in 2021. This groove is bigger than anything she’s taken on before, but despite the sprawling chorus in this track, she makes the entire arrangement sound simple and relentlessly seductive. If there’s one thing hip-hop and R&B don’t need any more of at the moment, it’s carbon copies of the mainstream model, and from the looks of this single, ayoka isn’t interested in creating anything of the like with the platform her growing fame has granted her.
This beat lurches forward as a means of emphasizing tension rather than perpetuating consistent catharsis, as the last couple of songs this player has released have. It doesn’t make the verses sound crammed together nor sluggishly delivered against the groove, but rather conditions the chorus to be more climactic and exciting when ayoka reaches it. Her vocal has some grittiness even when she isn’t rapping, but the brand of rough melodicism she’s using in “Weekend” actually does a lot to define the mood of the music.
Her swagger is always front and center, yet the forward strides she makes never sound as though they’re powered by an unearned arrogance too common in artists who have received the kind of buzz she has this year. She’s self-aware but not self-conscious, and if exploiting suspense and sonic intricacies some of her rivals would overlook doesn’t put her on the map this summer, I would be greatly surprised as a critic.
I’ve been keeping an eye on ayoka’s story since last year, and her caliber of content isn’t getting anything but better as time goes on. Though the concept of blending elements from hip-hop, pop, R&B, and soul music isn’t a pioneering one, it feels especially outside of the box when this player is toying with it for one reason – she isn’t trying to replicate a specific theme or look already made famous by an established artist.
She’s using melodicism in a manner completely different from how I’ve heard others in and outside of her scene do, and as long as she sticks with this present aesthetical trajectory I don’t believe she’s going to face much difficulty ascending from the underground to the mainstream sooner than later. The music business isn’t a game for casual players, but in ayoka, I think we can safely say she came to this medium ready to impart more to the audience than any amateur ever could.
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