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Jora Frantzis

Five on it: Normani is back with a tantalising ‘Wild Side’

Normani has (finally) returned with a sizzling slow jam featuring Cardi B. Plus new releases from Mahalia, Syd, Tkay Maidza and more.

16 Jul 2021

So you’ve probably gathered by now that here at gal-dem we’re fans of a good ol’ comeback, especially if it’s one that knocks our socks off. I also have a penchant for a collab, so ‘Wild Side’ – Normani’s new single with Cardi B – has me happily ticking off a lot of boxes. Comeback? Check. Iconic feature? Check. Show-stopping video? Triple check – and don’t even get me started on that bass. 

It’s been a hot minute (two whole years) since Normani last released a single in her own right, the one in question being her smash hit ‘Motivation’ which she co-wrote with Ariana Grande. Frivolous and catchy, it was a perfectly crafted pop song that left listeners longing – and how they’ve had to wait. 

“‘I’m ready to pull up on you / I’m ready to do what I do’ she states matter of factly, opining her desire over skittish beats and sludgy, throbbing bass; it’s as filterless and thirsty as it is tantalizing”

No one can accuse Normani of rushing to push out solo material in the wake of the 2018 hiatus of girl group Fifth Harmony. In the time since, she found her feet as an individual entity with features on Khalid’s ‘Love Lies’, Sam Smith’s ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ and Megan Thee Stallions’ Birds of Prey film soundtrack contribution ‘Diamonds’, so it’s heartening to see that this time around Normani is graduating to the star of the show.

Interestingly enough, ‘Wild Side’ was never meant to be feature material, even if that feature ended up being one Cardi B – arguably one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now. As Normani herself reflects in the press release, “I had already been in rehearsal for about three weeks preparing for the video when Cardi heard the record for the first time. She really showed up for me and brought this record to life by simply doing what Cardi does best. I love that woman down and I’m forever grateful”.

And whilst Cardi turns up as always (“I can do it all, I can prolly suck a watermelon through a straw”), it is still unequivocally Normani’s show. “I’m ready to pull up on you / I’m ready to do what I do” she states matter of factly, opining her desire over skittish beats and sludgy, throbbing bass; it’s as filterless and thirsty as it is tantalizing.

The same can be said for the accompanying video. Directed by Tanu Muino – who also directed Cardi B’s visual for ‘Up’ – the piece is a sensuous daydream of multiple chapters: a dimly lit red room, a spiralling vision of silk and smooth limbs, leather-clad boyband-reminiscent dance routines flitting to a gossamer-garbed softness, plus a dash of leopard print opulence to boot. There is something for every fantasy.

‘Wild Side’ may be slow and sultry and nowhere near as immediately scandalous as ‘WAP’, but it is just as lusty. It’s a side to Normani that we haven’t seen before, but given the time she has taken to nurture confidence in herself and as an artist in the wake of Fifth Harmony (it’s easy to get lost in a girl group, after all), it’s one we’re set to get more acquainted with.  

Normani – ‘Wild Side’ (feat. Cardi B)

For a last min collab (Normani was already rehearsing for the early-00s inspired video when Cardi B heard the track for the first time), ‘Wild Side’ is pretty hot. Finally following up on hit single ‘Motivation’, ‘Wild Side’ is as slick and smooth as we’ve come to expect from Normani; the track is a sexy slow jam that is as temptatious as it is sensuous.   

Mahalia – ‘Whenever You’re Ready’

Returning on the heels of ‘Jealous’, her collaboration with Rico Nasty from earlier this year, Mahalia is back with the bright and bouncy ‘Whenever You’re Ready’. Propelled by pulsing bass and skittish beats, the track’s irresistible rhythm is overlaid with inviting melodies and catchy hooks. Co-written with MNEK, it samples Montell Jordan’s ‘Get It On Tonite’ and is your new summer jam. 

Syd – ‘Fast Car’

OK, so this is quickly becoming the week of the comeback, and now it’s time for Syd. The Odd Future alumni is so sporadic with releases that it’s always a pleasure when she drops something new, and ‘Fast Car’ is an unexpected side step following her mournful and intimate previous outing ‘Missing Out’. Syd’s soft yet captivating vocal holds its own amidst stomping 80s beats and a Prince-inspired groove; it is, in her own words, a song “for the gay Black girls. I wanted them to see themselves in this and in me”.

Tkay Maidza – ‘So Cold’

Tkay Maidza has had quite the ascent over the past year, and new album Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 – which dropped this week and is the final instalment of a trilogy – is her most confident outing yet and only reinforces why she’s causing such a stir. For a song titled ‘So Cold’ the track is a rich and warm affair with its frisky bassline and colourful synth, but with Tkay switching between “I guess it was a waste of time” and “I ain’t falling in love” her intent is clear, regardless of the outcome.

Tinashe – ‘Bouncin’

Tinashe is another artist that is definitely in the middle of their 2021 stride. Last month’s release ‘Pasadena’, was a playful and breezy anticipation of summer, and she also appeared on Rejjie Snow’s funk-drenched ‘Disco Pantz’ alongside group therapy. Tapping into a more laid back R&B rhythm, ‘Bouncin’ is both sumptuous and dreamy, and another exciting precursor to the upcoming album 333.