If you didn’t already know that the New York-born, Los Angeles-based pop-soul singer MAAD was a DJ as well as a recording artist, you’d be able to figure it out from the songs she makes. Her discography is comprised of records that sound contemporary, but which make their debt to the classic sounds of the past evident. Her slinky, synth-spiked, bass-driven songs fit into modern R&B playlists perfectly – but listen carefully, and you can hear echoes of Donna Summer, Diana Ross, and vintage Stax and Motown sides, too. So no, MAAD doesn’t have to boast about the depth of her record collection or the many contexts in which she’s spun vinyl, which include shows for Tiffany, Cartier, Samsung, Instagram, and others. Her impeccable taste is apparent in everything she does. (Her sense of history is, too.)
Consider, for instance, “BAAD,” her latest single. She’s coaxed a couple of frequent collaborators to the producer’s chair: Raleigh Dunn, Songwriter, Producer & Co-Founder of THEVAMP collective / indie label, and Amsterdam-based electronic artist Midas Hutch, whose 2018 single “I’ll Go There” featured a stunning vocal turn by MAAD and engineering by Dunn. Hutch, who co-produced the track alongside Dunn (THEVAMP), is an acknowledged master of ‘80s-style pop-funk and R&B, and together they’ve brought a period-specific sheen and a club-floor bounce to MAAD’s sultry modern soul. And while MAAD’s vocal performance is an undeniable come-on, it also crackles with an electric edge that hints at jazz and vintage rock. These musicians are drawing from a big, overstuffed crate, and everything in there is worth spinning.
“BAAD” builds on the success of MAAD’s debut EP Le Funk, which was praised for its retro sound by High Snobiety and ThisIsRnB.com, and follow-up single “New Religion,” which demonstrated her facility for electropop and cutting-edge R&B. “BAAD” splits the difference between the two approaches, and testifies to the breadth of the singer’s skills. It’s no wonder she’s worked with such an impressive array of artists in her young career – A$AP Ferg, The Stereotypes, Ro James, many others – all of whom have recognized her talent and her creative flexibility.
She’s also brought back the director of “New Religion” to shoot the clip for “BAAD.” In Paulo Berberan’s last MAAD video, he placed the singer in a post-apocalyptic desert scenario; for “BAAD,” he’s aiming for a different sort of provocation. MAAD plays a video girl selling fantasies over the Internet to men who find her irresistible. The visual showcases a fusion of female empowerment and the current state of our collective human social & economic behaviors. While in character she’s generous enough to give her clients options: American Girl (complete with flags), a splash setting in a kiddie pool, a Million Dollar Bae at a stripper pole. As a visual metaphor for MAAD’s versatility, it’s an effective one – and a sexy one, too.