Written by: Natalya Davies Updated: 8th March 2019
After a short hiatus to tend to the pressing demands of motherhood, London singer MAI.K (a.k.a Mai Khalil) is back and ready to reclaim her throne in British R’n’B.
There are many facets of MAI.K’s extraordinary story which foreshadow her crystal-clear destiny to share her unique talent and musicianship with the world. Her fateful encounter with a discarded copy of “Smooth Grooves R’n’B Edition” in particular, validates the well-known proverb that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. This divine intervention introduced the young Syrian native to a newfound passion for music in what was a pivotal time as she adapted to her new life in the Western world.
Like all real-life experiences however, not every part of MAI.K’s journey has played out in such a fairy tale-like manner. After building a commendable reputation on the London music scene, 2017 saw her career pull to an abrupt halt as her life took an unexpected detour towards motherhood. Forced to put her career on hold, the singer accepted the diversion of her fate, but never at the expense of her dreams.
Her story is one which can and most likely will be seen as a great contribution to the role of the female in today’s society; as an unbeatable heroine that does not let inconsequential social constructs determine her path. Instead, she redefines societal standards to suit her purpose; a lesson we could all take a modicum of inspiration from.
MAI.K has proven to the world that life does not end at motherhood, but rather, it only really just begins. Another famous proverb applicable here is “when one door closes reach for a damn crowbar” (I don’t like social norms either), and just as expected MAI.K, crowbar in hand, sets to release her latest EP ‘Change’ on March 8th.
Here are our thoughts on the matter:
Change, an EP consisting of three previously released tracks, is a timeless piece which pays clear homage to the sound of 2000s R’n’B encapsulated by artists like Alicia Keys. The incorporation of MAI.K’s rich London accent adds a colourful twist to this traditional sound, a trend which has been embraced by some of modern R’n’B’s hottest names including Jorja Smith and rising star Mahalia. The singer has morphed the unconventional with the conventional to form a truly spectacular sound; though what more could we expect!
Opening track “Little Arab Girl” instantly sets MAI.K apart from any such conventions by exploring the largely untold story of the loss of youth and innocence; a common predicament for children residing in war zones. The song is a chilling rendition of a young girl, burdened by the aftermath of conflicts created by the adult world. Grieving the loss of her loved ones, but forced into a parental position due to the dependency of younger siblings.
““I NEED YOU” IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE EUPHORIC STATE THAT YOU CAN EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU TRULY OPEN UP YOUR HEART TO OTHERS”
Despite MAI.K’s efforts to stray from the political path she once occupied in her early career, “Little Arab Girl” finds the singer once again, giving a voice and platform to those in need. In consideration of the current demonisation of Arab nations, this is a story which has come exactly at the right time, with great potential to educate Westerners on the harsh realities faced by many families.
In an extreme contrast, “I Need You” unfolds a mesmerizing tale on the enchantment of unconditional love. The singer describes love like “a breath of fresh air”; the most vital form of sustenance, void of any inhibitions. While one would assume that such a perspective is naive and unrealistic, MAI.K’s portrayal of love is mature and secure. In a world which often promotes the prospect of vulnerability and devotion as signs of weakness, “I Need You” is the perfect example of the euphoric state that you can experience when you truly open up your heart to others, in any form of relationship.
“Change” comes to a close with “Soften”, an explosive track saturated with a lifetime supply of powerful and infectious hooks. The London singer’s voice is most captivating as she once again, looks to empower others with lessons learned through her own personal experiences. Hidden within “Soften’s” many layers is the message that you must acquire a strong sense of self worth to persevere with the imperfection in others, but also to identify when you deserve better.
The song could have benefited greatly from embracing a “stripped back”, unplugged direction, allowing MAI.K’s compelling and varied vocal abilities to be the centre of the listener’s attention. The layering of musical components can easily act as a distraction from such a beautifully constructed piece. Nonetheless, the combination of this important message and the song’s commercially appealing nature makes “Soften” a definite highlight of the EP.
As a whole, the coverage of important subjects including vulnerability, feminine empowerment and perseverance displayed in just three tracks gives MAI.K the potential to be a positive influence for many and one to watch in 2019. While her sound may be arguably sonically and structurally traditional, the impressive manner in which she uses her platform and life experiences to educate others makes her quite the opposite.
While it is certainly unpredictable what she will do next, one thing is guaranteed:
MAI.K is here to stay.