Tyla’s Freeing Self-Titled Debut Is A Pulsating Party That Puts Amapiano On The Global Stage

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With sizzling flair and a seductive strut, Tyla arrives on the Gunna and Skillibeng-assisted “Jump” from her debut album with a bold declaration. “They never had a pretty girl from Joburg,” she quips, saluting her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. “See me now, and that’s what they prefer.” In just a year, Tyla went from a relatively unknown singer carving out her lane in amapiano to a Grammy winner with eyes on being a global pop star. She achieved this without a proper introduction – a showcase that dropped the curtain on a captivating performance Tyla has been itching to debut for the world.

This proper introduction arrives through her self-titled debut album and it injects a new flavor into the pop world that it has not seen before, at least the way Tyla is doing it. The DNA of the South African singer’s music is amapiano, a house music subgenre that originates from her home country. Key elements in its sound include the “log drum,” a bold, speaker-rattling bass that quite literally serves as the heartbeat of amapiano, pumping life into its listener who catches a groove at either a dance party or the comfort of their own home. Then comes high-pitched piano melodies and other percussions like a hi-hat or a deeper bass. The genre has slowly increased its presence in mainstream African music spaces thanks to ambassadors like Uncle Waffles. Records like Wizkid’s “Bad To Me,” Davido’s “Unavailable,” and Asake’s “Amapiano” have adopted the South African genre, the latter two also receiving Grammy nominations. With all eyes on her Tyla, assumed the role of the genre’s ambassadors with the goal of elevating its appeal, something she achieves with Tyla. Tyla perfectly soundtracks the party we all need as summer nears.

Tyla’s push of amapiano to the world pre-dates the arrival of “Water,” her Grammy-winning hit record. The first clues that pointed to Tyla being a force to reckon with came with her previous singles “Been Thinking” and the Ayra Star-featured “Girl Next Door.” The former bubbles towards a climactic hook that opens the floodgates to a tide of head-over-heels feelings Tyla pours out to a crush. “Girl Next Door” turns down the temperature with burning pleas of desire, as Tyla and Ayra reserve hope for a waning love.

“Breathe Me” labels a kiss from Tyla the source of life her companion needs to continue onward. It’s equal parts inviting and daring, seductive and tempting, making for a fascinating love affair. “Jump” brings the heat and pulls bodies, burnished with sweat, closer together. “On My Body” positions Tyla and Becky G as dominating damsels, corralling their love interests and reeling them in for a showstopping presentation. Dancefloor lights bounce on their bodies and the percussion syncs with rising heartbeats.

However, Tyla is more than just a party — it’s a declaration of the singer’s pop stardom. For Tyla, it’s the start of a new chapter, one where she breaks free from past limitations and trades in co-dependency for autonomy. On “No. 1,” Tyla and Tems bask in the warmth of freedom. With “Priorities,” Tyla rescues herself from the neverending freefall of people-pleasing. The self-prioritizing also spills in “Truth Or Dare,” a dazzling single that sees Tyla mock and brush off an ex who returned to re-establish their relationship after the singer’s rise in popularity. She

Tyla lives at the cusp of the climax. Whether it’s on the dancefloor, in her love life, or in her music, Tyla is a dominant force. Step aside and allow her to operate or dare to step in the spotlight with her and complement what she brings to the table. “Water,” at both its surface and its deeper, suggestive center, is the daring request to be that adequate complement. The single is the perfect representation of who Tyla is and what it’s like to be in close proximity. As for the album, it’s a free debut that uses a pulsating amapiano party to put the genre on the global stage and set Tyla free into an era where she dominates for the foreseeable future.

Tyla is out now via FAX Records/Epic Records. Find out more information here.

Gunna is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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