It’s not everyday you come across a Kenyan Swedish soul pop singer, but you’ll find her in the form of Beldina Malaika. A few years back, listening to Childish Gambino‘s EP, I was struck by the backing vocals on “Not Going Back”. A few Google searches let me know they were from somebody called Beldina Malaika, and off to her YouTube video channel I went to start perusing her various uploads. Her videos were a mix of live recordings, studio sessions, acoustic radio gigs, new material and covers, and I was instantly charmed. Listening to “Paperplane” I knew I had something special on my hands. It’s hard to say how many times I ended up listening to it that
week month year. It’s the kind of song that doesn’t leave your head – not that I wanted it to. I automatically downloaded her 4-track EP, the aptly-titled Best Kept Secret, and obsessively tracked her Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages for new material. Unfortunately, nothing followed for quite some time.
Then, a few months ago, my prayers were finally answered in the form of new track “What Can I Say”. I was thankful to see that we were still dealing with the same Beldina. Having heard that she had relocated to Los Angeles to hone her writing skills, I was scared she’d be swallowed up whole by the American EDM scene and that her style would be sacrificed in the hopes of scoring a Billboard Top 100 hit. I needn’t have worried: “What Can I Say” builds upon the strength of her earlier releases, maintaining her smooth mixture of electronica and R&B with fantastic pop hooks.
While her sound remains the same, there’s a clear shift in her public persona. On her previous website she had declared “sorry guys – no boobs, no butts just Bell” and I can’t say that this holds true today. Not that I’m complaining; I’m all for women feeling free and comfortable and flaunting what they’ve got. And flaunt she does. Just have a look at the contrast between her videos for “Here We Go” and “What Can I Say”. In the former we get a closeup of her lovely face while she sings her heart out and shakes her hair. In the latter, the video starts with a closeup of her face but soon pans out to show Beldina in all her glory, wearing but a g-string and a bra on a California highway.
So what’s in the works for this Swedish songstress? Who the hell knows. She’s been keeping typically mum on the subject, with nothing but small teasers on her Facebook page. She hasn’t let me down before and I doubt she will now, so I’ll just let her do her thing.