To say Mapei has recreated herself in her new album Hey Hey would not be enough – she has evolved. Being born in Providence, RI then moving to Sweden with her family, Mapei started as an underground rapper in the country in which she was raised. In 2009, after getting heavily involved in the Swedish underground rap scene, she released her debut EP The Cocoa Butter Diaries. Mapei’s sound as a rapper is parallel to the likes of M.I.A. or Nicki Minaj, though unlike these comparisons, the verses of her songs actually carry merit in providing an apt critique of her culture that separates the good from the great in her genre. Much like hearing Tupac for the first time, I had a similar reaction to Cocoa Butter: that this lady has something very real to say with her art, and god damn it, she is going to get your attention. The album captured enough listeners and credibility in her scene that there was much pressure on her to stick with the same sound and same purpose. Her follow-up album saw collaboration with the French electronic duo Justice, but she squashed it after being disappointed with the final product.
Then began Mapei’s hiatus. Then the cocooning started. No one heard from Mapei until 2013, when she released her single “Don’t Wait,” which became – and I don’t use this term lightly – an instant classic. A song that grabbed people’s attention with its earnest, heart-felt vocals that are – and I don’t use this term lightly either – fucking gorgeous (think: Lauryn Hill). Enough attention to generate millions of listeners and viewers on the internet, not to mention an EP appropriately named Don’t Wait that consists of the original song and five other remixes from other artists. If you haven’t heard the single yet, I am certain you will when it begins to dominate the radio airwaves and magazine columns. So, what is evolutionary about her sound, you ask? It’s a sound metamorphosing from slightly obnoxious, albeit pertinent rapping of a culture to thoughtful vocalizations about relationships with other people everyone can identify. »
– Billy Dye