Mapei was born in Rhode Island, but eventually split her time in adolescence between Stockholm, Sweden and Brooklyn, NY. She began as a rapper, releasing her EP “The Coco Butter Diaries“ in 2009 under Downtown Records. After a loss of inspiration and a thirst for something new, she branched out into singing, completing her sound with a fullness that is one-of-a-kind. Now, just before touring as John Legend‘s special guest, and on the brink of the September release of her new album, “Hey Hey,” up and coming indie mastermind Mapei is all set to shake up the music scene. Here are just a few of the reasons to start downloading now.
1. Because Friendship. “Don’t Wait,” the lead single from her upcoming album, set to be released in September 2014 (I know, but it’s worth the wait, I promise), carries an infectious melody about friendship and loyalty. “Old friend indeed/come build me up/come share your light/it makes me shine” the futuristic voices, lead by Mapei, croon to us and remind us of the presences we value in our own lives. “Mark my words, we gon’ be alright, my brother my sister we gon’ be just fine,” she promises. This song alone is a reason to type Mapei’s name into your search-bar.
2. She Comes With More of Your Favorites. “Don’t Wait” has spawned countless remixes, for a constantly new and evolving experience of the same song. One of them features Chance the Rapper. It’s a 2-for-1 deal, and you’re loving it already. Admit it.
3. Because Happiness. Both her EP and the two songs she has released from her upcoming album are essential summer soundtrack elements; they’re for sitting in the scorching heat in traffic, or flying up the West Side Highway on a Friday afternoon in a mad escape from your workplace; it’s barbecue, pool party, 4th of July, on the way to the beach music; it’s getting dressed for a party music, or relaxing in your pajamas music. Still, it will not expire once the summertime does- it’s happiness music, good any time.
5. The Coolness Factor, Plain And Simple. Her fierce ambition and cool, relaxed disposition mix well. On “Leader of the Pack” from her “Cocoa Butter Diaries” EP, she speaks smoothly and forwardly to your ears, calm yet serious, reminiscent of Lil’ Kim‘s I-mean-business monotone. Her versatility shines through, sometime she belts, sometimes she raps. She is a medley of the industry’s favorite divas; timeless and powerful.
6. Truth Bombs. Even her explicit tracks offer up some of the best truth bombs pop has seen in a minute. She is brutally honest, speaking about the havoc drugs wreak on the youth in the community in ‘All the Young Children.’ “Let’s give them something better,” says the anonymous British voice throughout the track. In her work’s darkest moments, Mapei exposes the cracks in our world and demands change.
7. Bold Fearlessness. She is brutally and fearlessly honest. She’ll have you bumping to the beat one minute, and impacted by a one-line punch the next. “Power to the people, ’cause they stuck in Babylon,” she says in ‘Leader of the Pack’. In ‘All the Young Children,’ she boldly states; “Every three or four years being black is a trend, then a white chick’s a ho ’cause she has a black friend.” Truth does not intimidate her, and when that is an artist’s characteristic, their music really gets interesting.
8. Because Nostalgia. It’ll remind you of what you miss from the best of the best, when Hip-Hop and R&B was a constant groove, rather than a string of decent hits punctuated by an occasional chart-topper. Mapei’s sound is made of the best of all your favorites. The studious artist cites legends such as Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Missy Elliott and more as her inspiration. With a curriculum like that, the student just can’t fail.
9. Good Clean (Secular) Fun. It is further proof that the secular music of a younger generation can be uplifting. When Pharrell’s Happy shot to number one, it was clear that it was a kind of secular gospel, because it celebrates life. It is oozing with all the good things in life; you can hear the sound of gratefulness in every beat. A similar uplifting nature has been injected into Mapei’s music as well. Though it is secular, when it celebrates, it celebrates. And you find yourself bouncing to the beat- it’s infectious.
10. It’ll Help You Lively Up Yourself. Her music has a quality of liveliness absent in much of today’s pop music, and she pulls from every genre. Her beats pound right into the heart of the listener, while her melodies hug the soul. Not only is her singing voice a sweet raspy mix of elderly wisdom and youthful power, but as she raps her verses are full of potent messages that stay with you way past the end of the track. No doubt we are fast approaching the day when you’ll be flipping through your favorite radio stations and hearing a different song of hers on every one.