Verdict: 1.5 / 5
South Africa’s hottest young talent shows a wide array of influences on her debut album.
By local and to a lesser extent, international standards Toya’s debut album is a hot record. She’s been branded a style icon and has been playlisted on all the top radio stations and music channels in S.A. With plenty of admirers and Facebook fans, things are looking good for her. Unfortunately, taste and quality are endangered species these days. Like Spoek Mathambo, Delazy is a composite of black and white, embodying much of today’s black urban youth whose identities are a mix of traditional black urban and white middle class, a case of modernity and urbanization colluding with multiculturalism to create a prototype for the future of South Africa’s urban youth maybe. The danger inherent in this is that an individual reflecting this mix can end up being neither here nor there and this is exactly the case with Spoek and Toya. Delazy’s music apes international trends, which is itself empty, synthetic and disposable, thus rendering her work twice as vapid.
‘Are You Gonna Stay’ is a silly feel-good, electronic pop number. On it Toya affirms who she is as an individual and an artist. The auto-tune gimmick on the song is nauseating and disturbing, a poor opening salvo. The synth intro on ‘Heart’ is cool and moves in the right direction but once the verse kicks in you feel let down. The song picks up a little on the chorus but soon you hear that it is too formulaic because it climbs into bed with the electro dance stuff that is so popular today (you sigh once more). ‘Yeah Hell Yeah (With You)’ initially starts off with a Liquid Deep type groove but then it grotesquely devolves into a Euro trash club song, with added auto-tune to amp up the coolness factor. With such a bad song title, you begin to become concerned for the lyrics on the album. On ‘Yeah Hell Yeah (With You)’ Toya clumps together rapid fire absurdities like ‘Alright listen here, I will hold you like a chop-stick, save you from a mosh-pit, fly us out and land it, peanut butter jam it.’ These lines are enough to show how silly and idiotic artists become when they pander to what they think is cool; music of this nature will naturally produce lyrics of this caliber.
‘Memoriam’ is one of the album’s better tracks but compromised by stupid production tricks. Toya sounds heavily like Natasha Bedingfield and on this track even more so. ‘Pump It On’ is the album’s main single, a decent pop track that deserves the airplay it has received thus far. ‘Love Takes Time’ is very, very close to John Legend, maybe too close for comfort. Toya has talent. She can sing, she can play an instrument but she is led astray by poor, conventional songwriting; so too by tacky fashion, high school lyrics and you just get the sense that it is all about being cool and in the spotlight instead of about music. I could be wrong on my last point but it comes across this way when simply looking at the music, which lacks artistic integrity heck even simple pop integrity. It’s all a case of style over substance once again.