Upon release last week, Maka made it clear that although her new project, CTRL+M, was inspired by SZA’s debut R&B album, CTRL, it should not be mistaken for a cover. In other words, CTRL+M is sonically identical to SZA’s CTRL as regards instrumentals, themes, concept, genre and a few cadences, but ultimately, the project’s genuineness lies in how Maka invents her own words for all five of the tracks. Nonetheless, Maka’s “Go Baby”, “Hula Hooping”, “Bad Enough” and “No Be Me” take cues from SZA’s “Go Gina”, “Love Galore”, “Drew Barrymore” and “Normal Girl” accordingly.
Over an acoustic guitar riff on CTRL+M’s opening track, “Love and Games”, Maka sets the tone: “It’s all fun till someone gets hurt, it’s all a game and it’s all love”, establishing that her’s is also a personal lens on present-day romance. The heartbreaking sentiment on the first track bleeds through the rest of the short project, telling one wholesome story when you listen attentively. And just like the title of the first track, the four tracks that come after are drenched in ‘love’ and relationship ‘games’.
Maka’s story on CTRL+M is an aide-memoire telling us that when we romantically love or date a person, we simultaneously accept the probability of a sour end. Her words on “Go Baby”, “I know that relationships will sometimes be unhealthy but I become distracted when you touch my body” is a stinging reminder about moments energised by sheer desire and lust, but not love. As her voice drones from “Go Baby” into the next track “Hula Hooping”, her words, “I’m stuck in the way I’m addicted”, rings with a tone of sadness as she accepts the fate of a tragic end all because of sexual satisfaction.
But while still having her hunger for intimacy, she demands to be taken seriously on “Hula Hooping” featuring an able Alpha. Singing, “don’t treat me like a fool though, I hate competition, no, nooo, I’m not doing this”, Maka realises the need to quit while tuning out a love interest who is someone else’s love interest too. Alpha quickly delivers an easily digestible candid verse, weaving witty remarks that allude to having sex with a side chick on Lagos’ third mainland bridge —illustrating just how dangerous it is to be unfaithful to one’s own girlfriend. The project ends with “Bad Enough”, where Maka speaks of insecurities while still clamouring for a foregone love, and “No Be Me”, where she finally lets go; “I think you fell in love with a girl who don’t exist, no be meee…I do not want to trap you, so maybe we could forget it”.
JustAccoustics and BigFootinYourFace are credited as producers on almost every track —asides “Go Baby”, which is co-produced by Whonickt.
The Nigerian soul singer, Maka, is at her sharpest when she does live performances and acoustics —as she has displayed on this work too. CTRL+M‘s instrumentation is gentle with few bursts of synths; smooth and simple across all tracks. Like the keyboard shortcut, she CTRL + M’s all of SZA’s greatness into a mini project that prompts a similar but different experience.
All five songs are as much a typical archetype as they are modern cautionary tales.
Listen to Maka’s CTRL+M below.
Featured Image Credit: theofficialmaka
Fisayo is a journalist in search of words. Tweet at her @fisvyo