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Five on it: Mahalia bares her heart for all to hear on ‘Letters to Ur Ex’

An imploration to let go of your past from Mahalia, plus new releases from Shenseea, Nilüfer Yanya, Saweetie and Wallice.

18 Feb 2022

We’ve all been there: the throes of a burgeoning romance has got us hot under the collar and excited for the potential of what is yet to come. Viewed through a rose-tinted lens and you’d be forgiven for thinking it as filmlike but, blink (hard) a few times, and you’ll find the sheen does wear thin. 

Mahalia is no stranger to waxing lyrical about love in her vulnerable, guts laid bare for all personal tales, and her latest effort is no different. Following in the wake of the slick R&B-meets-pop sound of last year’s trio of releases ‘Whenever You’re Ready’, ‘Roadside’ (ft. AJ Tracey), and ‘Jealous’ ft. Rico Nasty, new single ‘Letters to Ur Ex’ is altogether more intimate. Mahalia withdraws the knife instead of twisting it; opening with fluid guitar work and sleek melodies, ‘Letters to Ur Ex’ extends an olive branch to its intended, opening a dialogue on an oft awkward subject matter.

“Mahalia withdraws the knife instead of twisting it. ‘Letters to Ur Ex’ extends an olive branch to its intended, opening a dialogue on an oft awkward subject matter”

“Last night, you sent a text to him / Made us have a fight, made a mess of it,” croons Mahalia setting the scene at the top of the track. “I know you’re his ex, but you can’t do that anymore”. Instead of putting up territorial barricades, she instead knocks them down, reflecting on how she, too, has been the girl trying to navigate her own heartache in the past. In that way ‘Letters to Ur Ex’ asks for space and respect, with a small, cautionary nod that you may get your karma should you persist in pressing upon boundaries. 

‘Letters to Ur Ex’ has been a therapeutic journey for Mahalia, who recently expanded on the matter as she teased the release over on her Instagram account. Reading into the five stages of grief and healing that a heart goes through after a breakup got her “thinking about all of the times i felt these things and all of the heartbreak that led me to be here”, namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance; without acceptance, one cannot step forwards into recovery and, ultimately, moving on.

Appearing on the latest episode of Straight Up, a podcast by pop culture journalists Kathleen Johnston and Eleanor Halls, Mahalia went on to say that her forthcoming EP – which she wrote partly in collaboration with her boyfriend – also features a song entitled ‘Letters to Ur Next’. By flipping the narrative on its head and writing from the opposite perspective, Mahalia takes the stigma away from the transition into this new relationship where no one is really to blame. There is just choice, and instead of choosing violence, Mahalia brandishes a white flag: this is a truce.

Mahalia – ‘Letters to Ur Ex’

You never know what you’re going to get with Mahalia; is it a club-ready anthem like ‘Simmer’ – her smash collab with Burna Boy – or a more low-key moment like classic single ‘Sober’? New release ‘Letters to Ur Ex’ is more intimate than you may expect; opening with meandering guitar strings and winding melodies, the track has Mahalia baring her feelings earnestly for one person in particular, yet for all to hear.

Wallice – ‘Little League’

Recently signed to Dirty Hit (home of The 1975, beabadoobee and Rina Sawayama), Wallice is fast making a name for herself as an affably observant voice of her generation, and new single ‘Little League’ only reinforces the fact. Following in the wake of last year’s EP Off the Rails, ‘Little League’ is a fidgety and frenetic account of competitiveness, personal insecurity and paranoia that your friends don’t really like you.

Nilüfer Yanya – ‘anotherlife’

The latest single to be shared from her upcoming second album PAINLESS, ‘anotherlife’ slots neatly in between the restless energy of ‘stabilise’ and the sombre lucidity of ‘midnight sun’. Imbued with an undercurrent of synth and topped with bright interjections of guitar, the track sees Nilüfer embrace acceptance of the present whilst hinting at a desperation that persists just beneath the surface.

Shenseea – ‘R U That’ (feat. 21 Savage)

It doesn’t feel like five minutes since she dropped ‘Lick’ (her scandalously addictive collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion), but Shenseea is back for round two. Taken from the newly announced debut album Alpha – set to drop next month – new single ‘R U That’ has her teaming up with rapper 21 Savage and dialling back the punchy precision of her previous outing to show her in a softer, R&B-tinged glow. If you love Doja Cat, you’ll love this.

Saweetie – ‘Closer’ (feat. H.E.R)

Another artist with an imminent debut album on the cards is Saweetie, who returns with the latest tease from Pretty Bitch Music. Enlisting H.E.R to sprinkle some magic, ‘Closer’ is a breezy, summery outing that captures the liberating essence of living for yourself and yourself alone. Grounded by a stomping dance rhythm and offset with shimmering production, it is deliciously indulgent.