India Slodki/The Broadside
Knockout Smile’s Freestyle from Payday’s debut album, It’s Just Music has found itself among many people’s playlists, and thus, requires a good look into why. All one minute and 37 seconds of the track are just corny enough to be endearing, and you catch Payday’s infectious energy, bouncing your head along with the ebb and flow of her coy narration.
The 11 song debut album was released December 18, 2020, and finds itself just below 22 minutes. We are introduced to a confident, down-to-earth, contemporary teenager. This is a dramatic change from the hyper beast, clout chasing, DIY artist that can be found on her YouTube from as recently as six months ago.
While there are still elements of juvenile, gangster-rap bravado, most of the first half of It’s Just Music feels fairly clever and seems to be a promising new face among artists like Remi Wolf and Dominc Fike. Songs like Ooe and Hollywood Hyena suggest that Payday has the potential to bring another side of obscurity to a developing meld of DIY hip-hop and indie-pop.
When you reach Tech Deck, the reality of how young the artist settles in. Basic trap beats support over-auto-tuned vocals, most of the language relying on staples of material culture to establish what kind of people Payday deals with. The track feels lazy and unoriginal. Payday draws heavily on apparent Soundcloud Rap influences, and the juvenile energy begins to feel more annoying than endearing.
Videos from six months ago expose another side of Payday. They tell the classic story of a teenager relying on internet virality in an effort to become a success. Much of Payday’s early work feels as if it is a cut-and-paste suburban SoundCloud track. It almost feels as if the 16-year-old is trying to ignore the fact that she is a teenage girl–arguably the most widely underestimated demographic–in an effort to compete with her male counterparts.
It is disappointing that Payday isn’t playing into her unique experiences, as she could have the potential to speak on something unsaid, attempting an earnestness similar to that of Lil Simz. In the teen-angst-driven world of Soundcloud Rap, it was nice to see someone break out of the white boy stereotype. Smilies Freestyle presented just that opportunity, evoking a Riot Grrrl rooted in emotion. It’s disappointing to see that energy not carried through the rest of It’s Just Music.