Best New Music: Tyla Bares Her Desires In House-Disco Stunner “Been Thinking”
Best New Music: Tyla Bares Her Desires In House-Disco Stunner “Been Thinking”

Best New Music: Tyla Bares Her Desires In House-Disco Stunner “Been Thinking”

a colourful start to the South African singer's year

Before the pandemic shifted the workings of music production three years ago, Tyla was already on-course for a run at the top. Then 18-years-old, the breakout single “Getting Late” was the South African singer’s velvety interpretation of Amapiano, the heavily-percussive genre which wasn’t welcoming of many vocalists at the time. As the next year came, evidence of credible listenership was unfolding right before Tyla: on social platforms Instagram and TikTok, the record’s affecting dance groove caught on among new listeners and when the visuals were released in early 2021, it hit over a million views in record time.


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Since then, the scintillating performer has found reason to venture deeper into the nexus of her creativity. “Been Thinking” is a colourful pop record with polishes of house and disco, extending the sonic direction Tyla has so far charted in her career. As her first single of ‘23, there’s undoubtedly a pristine focus on furthering the creative choices that has so far worked for the Johannesburg native. On “Getting Late,” the budding talent had collaborated with her longtime producer Kooldrink. While the song’s electric quality remained top-shelf, her aesthetic on the Topshotta-directed visual was vividly represented by her stylist Thato Nzimande and her creative director Garth. Everything was well structured to allow the musician to embody the idea, which is based on an expressive, feminine point-of-view that has stood shoulder to shoulder with the male-dominated perspective of contemporary pop music. 

With relationships being the usual subject of Tyla, she reverts the attention towards herself, singing her innermost desires with sharp focus. A young musician, Tyla’s nearby experiences are shaped by widespread totems of globalisation such as the TV, along which art forms like music, movies and fashion have emerged through. She brings this angle into her creations, sketching a portrait of where she is without feeling the need to exaggerate details. “Getting Late” plays out from the fairy tale-esque storyline of the male love interest waiting for the lady to be ready, a point of tension Tyla explores with lighthearted disregard throughout the song. 

She has grown as a writer, more confident in her desires than ever. “Been Thinking” thus constructs an aura of longing, brought into grandiose terrains by the Grammy Award-winning producer Tricky Stewart. Moving with purposeful intensity, the beat coerces a similarly fierce performance from Tyla, singing the feelings of lust with an urgency which charges her songwriting. “All day, all night, I’ve been thinking about you,” she sings on the catchy chorus, “can’t hide, can’t lie, I’ve been thinking about you”. In one of the verses, she cues-in more detail and flexes her pen game with the imagery, “You the best that I never had, somebody call up Usher cause I got it bad/ I’m on your top like a durag, I’m at your crib where you live with a duffel and my Louis bag”

In her NATIVE Exclusive, the origins of Tyla’s musical inclinations were laid bare. According to the artist born Tyla Seethal, she always imagined herself singing and performing to crowds, even before she had an inkling of what the lifestyle of a professional musician demanded. All she had to go by was her love for sound; mostly from 2000s American R&B, she learned to work her vocals and how best to express her unique desires, and by the time she made her debut the musician was already quite versed on how to put everything together. So far, she’s had icons of South African Dance music DJ Lag (“Overdue”) and DJ Maphorisa (“To Last [Remix]”) feature on her records, an inclination of how much she has been trusted to advance the popular scene of a country with deep musical history. 

As always, the video for “Been Thinking” is beautifully planned and delivered evocatively from Tyla. Sultry hues like purple and red establish the mood of desire early enough, while the scenes are packed with the familiar energy of mosh pits and party spaces. As she’s proven eager to do, Tyla interprets the song’s groove with dancing moves, admirably taking much of the screen time in a video whose external impulses contribute to its appeal. Going off her deal with Epic Records and now this new release, it’s quite clear the promise this year holds for Tyla.