NATIVE Exclusive: Hamzaa Has Come Full Circle

She finds power in her vulnerability

With her powerfully vulnerable lyrics and a soft but commanding voice, UK-based singer Malika Hamzaa has carved a lane for herself in the music industry. Crafting worlds that are equal parts soul and funk, the singer has been behind some of the most confessional, open wound R&B coming out from the UK in the past few years.

Raised on a musical diet featuring the iconic Sade and Seal to the more recent names such as Dolapo, Jorja Smith and Mahalia, the singer adds her own unique twist with her unmistakable voice which she’s been fine-tuning since she was only 9 years old. It’s this breathtaking voice that has become her superpower and her musical identifier, bolstering the 22-year old Kenyan-Zambian singer from homegrown talent to one worthy of global acclaim.

Hamzaa has spent the last couple of years making a name for herself through the self-determined showcase she effortlessly brings to her soulful tracks. From her debut single, “Stranded Love” to her debut EP ‘First Signs of Me’, she always manages to turn her negative feelings into beautiful uplifting records. Whether it’s the powerful “Write It Down” which Hamzaa admits is a big middle finger to anyone who tries to invalidate her or her craft or a warm gospel track about her hometown titled “London”, Hamzaa pays laser focus to her craft, making sure to stay true to herself and message whilst giving herself room to explore new sounds and grow. As Nigerian show host and lead DJ of Beats1 Show, Julie Adenuga articulately described, Hamzaa “knows how to sing emotions that you didn’t even realise you were feeling.”


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A post shared by HAMZAA (@realhamzaa)

Last Friday, the singer invited listeners further into her expanding world with the release of her third EP ‘Full Circle‘, a 7-track tape that marks new territory for the singer as she delivers her most well-rounded, fully-formed, genre-defying work to date. Here, she delves into themes of mental health, growth, becoming, self-acceptance and more, as she boldly bares out her art and inches further towards the powerhouse she is capable of becoming.

While ‘Full Circle’ is her third EP in the past three years, the singer promises that it’s her most honest effort. She admits that after the seismic change of the past year, she found herself with more things to say and more lessons to share and express with her growing audience. As a result of this, her debut album, which she shares is already in the works will reveal to listeners even further about her inner workings and anxieties. However, for now, Hamzaa is more than happy to focus solely on making music that sees women like her at their most base emotions. In a conversation with the NATIVE, the singer discusses the growth of her career thus far, as well as her creative process behind earlier projects and her most recent release.

The chat, which follows below, has been lightly edited for clarity.

NATIVE: Tell us a bit more about your journey starting music? 

HAMZAA: It was quite natural I’d say. I spent time making music as a hobby. It was very much me, myself, and I, just figuring things out what I liked and what I didn’t like, and then it turned into a thing of wow, people actually like the music I make”. Music is usually a career, hobby or you and your friends messing around and going to the studio. The team I had at the time started pushing me to get a record deal and after a while, it felt natural. It was almost like a no-brainer at that point. 

NATIVE: Did you ever feel any sort of push back to start? I know you mentioned it not being the tradition or path. 

HAMZAA: I mean, at the time I had left to go to boarding school. I went to a private school here in England and I dropped out a year early. At the time I wasn’t doing much, I was just working. It was almost like “oh! Finally something productive, something I could dedicate myself to, my time, my energy”

NATIVE: Do you remember the first song you recorded? 

HAMZAA: The first song I recorded ever or when I started taking music seriously? 

NATIVE: We can do both. 

HAMZAA: So, I think I was around 7 years, and I was singing on this gospel album. It’s a 7-day Adventis church my uncle is part of and they were recording a CD of gospel songs and I had a little solo there.

NATIVE: So you came from a musical family then? 

HAMZAA: I mean, somewhat. I wouldn’t even call it a musical family. I feel like I just got some bits and parts of people that were around me or people that were involved with music, drama, or some kind of performing arts. My mum used to be a dancer as well. For the first time, I did music properly, it was during my first proper studio session for “Breathing”

NATIVE: Ok, tell me about that. How was that?

HAMZAA: Because I’ve never been in the studio, I’m in front of the producer and he was playing me the instrumental he thought I might like. I was like “ugh I don’t know about this one”, and I said “okay, but I’m not sure” then he said “just try it, I feel like you can do something crazy on it” and then I started writing “Breathing”. I remember after I finished writing, it was an emotional moment in the studio. It was beautiful. So, that kinda came about and from that point on was when I started paying more industry attention. When people heard that song, they were like “OKAY!!”

NATIVE: Who are some of your musical inspirations? 

HAMZAA: It’s funny because at the moment and in general, I find myself listening to music that isn’t even English. Right now, I love Amapiano and it’s somehow influencing my music even.  


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A post shared by HAMZAA (@realhamzaa)

NATIVE: How would you say you’ve grown as an artist since your debut EP?

HAMZAA: So as an artist, this is gonna be the third EP that I’m releasing and I think we’ve just been able to evolve, change and recreate ourselves as much as we want. My mind runs a million seconds per hour on different things and I just think it’s only right to reflect that in my music in terms of the era, genre, style and branding. I just think artists like myself that are up and coming should be afforded that opportunity to grow and explore and not box ourselves in a cage.

NATIVE: I totally agree. I also read that you write your own lyrics. What inspires you to be that vulnerable in your music?

HAMZAA: I just think that’s how it should be. I wouldn’t want to write about stuff that isn’t true to me. You’d have to be singing that every day on stage, you have to promote it and you have to do live sessions. Imagine singing lyrics that mean nothing to you, that will be so draining. It’s almost like I get to use my lyrics as an opportunity to let go of certain things sometimes. 

NATIVE: It sounds like you have a lot of self-belief. What would you say is the secret ingredient to just betting on yourself and your abilities?

HAMZAA: I feel like it comes with the element of delusion. I’m saying that because you have to believe you’re the best before anyone else can. Even if you don’t, you’ve got to have an element of delusion. Even if you aren’t and you want to get better, you start from yourself. I listen back to my demos and I’m like “wow this is the hardest sh*t I have heard in my life, I’m actually cold. I’m good at what I do.” Anything that we do has to exceed and go beyond that every time and that is how you get to the place of self-belief. There are days that I feel like people aren’t listening, people aren’t paying attention and then I get in a hole about it. Then I have to remember that I’m hard and that I’m the hardest. 

NATIVE: Why did you name your EP ‘Full Circle’? Is it symbolic in any way? 

HAMZAA: I’d be honest, I’ve been wanting to change the name about three times but we had already put everything in place so ‘Full Circle’ stuck. The meaning of ‘Full Circle’ is you know when you are in the moment something happens and it comes around full circle like a new dawn or a new beginning of something. But then again a full circle is complete. There was a time I wasn’t releasing music for a year and a half and now we’ve completed the circle. I’m back again. I’m putting out music again. There are so many different types of meanings. It’s ambiguous so it’s open up to interpretation I would say.

NATIVE: How was the process of putting the EP together?

HAMZAA: It was actually quite easy because I was working with Kofi, he is a writer and another producer. It was a very tight-knit work experience. For me, putting the EP together was easy because I’ve had a lot to say already, it was just about how I was gonna say it and what part of what I’m feeling do I want to talk about right now. Do I wanna save stuff for later or are we doing this? Sometimes, making music isn’t comfortable. You have to put out a lot of stuff that you might not even want to be pulling out but I felt very comfortable in the space I was in when I made the EP.

NATIVE: What does the rest of the year hold for you? I mean with the world slowly starting to open back up, are you going to do live shows for ‘Full Circle’?

HAMZAA: Hopefully, that’s the plan. That’s the goal for us, to get to places where I can do so many live shows. So I’m praying and I’m hoping we can get there. 

Stream ‘Full Circle’ below. 

[Featured Image Credits/Hamzaa]

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Written by Nwanneamaka Igwe and Tami Makinde