Song of the Week: "My Bad" - Cyanca

The genre-hopping Charlotte native channels Missy Elliott — and gets a cosign from her, too. Plus: Kooley High, Nance, and chlothegod.

Song of the Week: "My Bad" - Cyanca

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For an artist who's always demonstrated an eye and mind for the marketing and creative direction that accompanies her music, it's fitting that before Cyanca's new, distinctly Missy Elliott-flavored music video was even released, it had already been cosigned by Misdemeanor herself.

The setup was simple enough, the kind of low-stakes Twitter name drop that anyone promoting something on the Internet has tried before (including yours truly, without an ounce of shame). Along with a teaser of the video, she wrote: "Shoutout to @missyelliott influencing me to have no ceiling on my sound." A humble note, an informative anecdote to fans — the type of thing that's worth putting up even if it elicits no response at all. But especially worth putting up when it does.

"Okaaaay Supa Dupa moves," Elliott replied, almost surely sending the Charlotte-based artist into a mild fever state, and lending the ultimate stamp of approval to her latest song — a taught, hypnotizing rumination on identity called "My Bad."

To know that "My Bad," like Cyanca herself, takes inspiration from Missy would be enough to sketch the outline of the song's thematic roots: challenging norms of feminine expression, resisting music industry conventions that demand labels like "singer" or "rapper," and being unapologetically (for the most part — as the title itself winks at) oneself. But it's within the larger context of Cyanca's career that her newest song is truly best understood.

Some artists "blow up," others can seem to "explode" or "burst" onto the scene. In 2017, it felt like Cyanca simply floated onto it, held aloft by the dreamy glow and twinkling keys of "New Phone, Who Dis" — a song so mesmerizing that it managed to carve its own lane despite featuring a sample ("Romance" by Hiroshi Suzuki) that had just been used on a major label album by a prominent Charlotte rapper a year before (Lute's "Home" ft. Elevator Jay). In the kind of airy, soothing voice that would often be associated with affirmation and declarations of love, Cyanca does the exact opposite, issuing blunt, pointed ultimatums like "If you ain't really tryna grind, we can't be texting." On that first EP, The Isle of Queens, the seeds of an intriguing, hard-to-categorize act had already been planted.

By the time she released the EP Fast Times in 2021, the ease with bending and hopping genres had only grown: the Kaytranada-esque sounds of "Charger," the hazy, ethereal R&B of "PB&J," the straightforward rap bars of "Dominos" — it all worked.

Now, on "My Bad," Cyanca again branches into new territory, with a song that — from the prodding lyrics to the bracing production — is as openly confrontational as she's ever been.