Acute hip-hop fans may recognize the name NJOMZA (pronounced “nee-yohm-zah”) from appearances on scattered songs with Mac Miller (‘Planet God Damn’, ‘Creatures of the Night’), who signed the singer to his REMember Music label. ‘sad for you’ marks her first major body of work since promising but unruly debut mixtape ‘GOLD LION’ way back in 2013, as well as REMember’s inaugural release, and the EP emerges as a confident artistic reintroduction. NJOMZA has distilled herself into chilled pop, an analyst of romance and its shortcomings, all the while not compromising on her versatility and integrity.
A series of soft guitar strums and pretty humming morphs into the whirring vortex of ‘intro’, with an opening sentence that is both declaration and revelation: “Fuck these emotions, I don’t need them.” It’s an amusing start to an EP entitled ‘sad for you’, whose gorgeous title track comes next, layering glittering synths and trap hi-hats over a booming drum beat. Here NJOMZA shows off a vocal range mostly absent from her former work, hitting some tragic pangs in her account of a crumbling relationship, followed by seamless shifts to the soft coos of the chorus and its bridge.
The tracks tell a tale of two loves, one soured and ‘poison’, the other a ‘perfect fit’. NJOMZA channels Rihanna in both her ballad and her sex jam; a melancholy piano loop in ‘poison’ has hints of ‘Stay’, while breathy vocals and distorted horns on ‘perfect fit’ echo the dark and woozy tunes of ‘ANTI’. Neither song overstays its welcome nor feels like an experiment, as the two play nicely in the canvas laid out by the opener and title track.
‘sad for you’ as an EP finds cohesion in building a dream-pop atmosphere, which makes it all the more jarring when one runs into the melodramatic ‘hear me’ halfway through. Whereas the songs that sandwich it mine a defining pathos by pulling from distinct inspirations, the disappointingly familiar ‘hear me’ doesn’t have much of an identity at all. Look for a more welcome turn of events in the no-scrubs bounce and swagger of ‘baggage’, a second-half highlight, instead.
Some sequencing issues aside, ‘sad for you’ is a breezy 25-minute listen for a rainy day or a late-night drive. NJOMZA is bursting through her bubble into the mainstream and deserves much more than a brief fling.
The ‘sad for you’ EP is out now via REMember Music, LLC