The first time I saw Toya perform live was at a small SONY ATV showcase in the winter of last year. She had this mysterious, almost timid way about her, which in essence was rather intriguing. Standing shy behind the piano, Toya sang soulfully about long last loves and deeply embedded emotions.
Summer of 2012 and Toya hits local charts with a hip hop number that completely blew me off my feet. Whether I was swept by disappointment or pleasant surprise is still something I am trying to figure out to this day.
My initial reaction was something along the lines of, ‘she sold herself out’, but it wasn’t long before the commercial bug bit and I found myself rather enjoying the beats of ‘Love is in the Air’. There is no doubt that what Toya has released is filled with prime hip hop beats and carries a distinctive edge, but I can’t help but wonder what she is hiding.
There are definitely recalls of her jazz and classical past and her lyrics still carry admittedly honest confessions. Unfortunately these are sometimes lost in the calamity of synth and electro. ‘Pump It On’, one of Toya’s biggest singles to date carries a strong message behind it, but I’m not sure it is being accurately portrayed.
That said, it must be noted that the associated music video – which now has over 85,000 YouTube views – took South African music videos to the next level and is most likely a huge factor in her recent success.
The young pianist, Toya (born Latoya Buthlezi) has everything it takes, from the style, to the voice, flair and talent. The road is a long and tricky one, and recent success proves that she is doing something right, but the future is somewhat unknown.
I believe she has more to offer, so for a debut, the release is altogether satisfactory, but the bar will be raised…