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Maiya The Don:The Future of Hip-Hop

by Megan Bowles

Rapper, student, influencer, makeup artist - what's next for Brooklyn’s hottest commodity?

It’s safe to say that Maiya The Don is not your average 21-year-old. Having started out as a makeup artist, the pandemic prompted her to take her skills to TikTok, saying that suddenly she ‘didn’t need to take clients’ as her social media presence took off. ‘I started to change it from oh I want more clients to the makeup brand is the client. And then I just started to feel super stagnant in what I was doing. I felt like I was doing the same things every day’. Maiya quickly grew to over 600k on TikTok alone, but felt ‘like the equivalent to somebody working a job until they graduate to do what they want to do in their career’. It wasn’t until she started going to the studio regularly, at the time for fun, that she ‘recognised that that was [her] happiness’, she says. ‘I was like, the most happy and I was finding the most joy and I wasn’t stagnate, and I just kept wanting to go back all the time. So yeah, after I was like, okay, I’m gonna take it seriously. I started to write everything and go to the studio more consistently and everything happened’.

After switching up her content to focus on her budding music career, it became clear that her audience wasn’t only interested in her GRWMs and makeup tips. ‘I wasn’t super niche like that. I feel like people follow me because they enjoy me. So I always used to say if I drink a bottle of water, they was gonna be like, period, that water looks so good. Like, actually drinking water girl’ she says, laughing. ‘They was just gonna support me, whatever I was doing. Not just because they liked the way that I do my hair or my makeup, you know. When I made the transition to music, I got new people like, Oh, who’s this? She’s hard. And then also, people was like, girl, you could rap? You ain’t tell us nothing!’.

Her success online is no surprise to those who know her – on both her social media and in her music, Maiya’s personality and her infectious sense of humour shines. Though it was 2022’s release ‘Telfy’ that brought the real start to her career. ‘My life changed the day I dropped the snippet of Telfy, like no joke’, she says. ‘I feel like I really don’t get to talk about this enough, but I have such bad impostor syndrome because everything happened so quickly, you know?’. Overnight, label meetings, show bookings and feature requests began rolling in for the then 20-year-old. ‘It’s like an overnight build-a-rapper kind of thing. You know the Spy Kids, where they like have the microwave where you put a packet in and then it’s like McDonald’s that comes out? I feel like that’s what happened. That’s like the best representation of what happened with me, it was like, oh, I made this song – and now I’m a rapper’.

Telfy, the video for which now boasts over 2.5 million views, started a landslide that hasn’t stopped growing. In early October, the rapper released her debut mixtape Hot Commodity, which boasts the track ‘In Your Hands’ featuring Grammy award-winning rapper Ty Dolla $ign. Laughing, Maiya says ‘I feel like I had a baby’, referencing her mixtape finally being out in the world. Each track allows us a glimpse of the different sides of Maiya, though her slick, witty lyricism runs throughout the 11-song release. When asked about why she thinks people resonate with her music so much, she credits the ‘authenticity’ of her sound. The rapper makes music ‘for women to feel good. I want women to feel like they’re the biggest in the room. You are just the baddest bitch no matter what – it doesn’t matter who’s around’. Though her music is often praised for its ability to inspire confidence in women, she says that ‘it’s not even really about confidence, because I don’t feel like I sell confidence. I feel like I sell reality and the reality is that I’m comfortable with who I am and I am confident in myself. I feel good, can’t nobody make me feel any other way’.

But the question is, who’s on Maiya The Don’s playlists? ‘I think if you were to look at my recently listened to or most listened to right now, it’s so random’. Names such as Kehlani, Rob49, Megan The Stallion and Cardi B pop up on the list, and of course ‘Beyonce!’, she exclaims, surprised at herself for having left the artist for last. ‘I have had Renaissance on repeat or like, the whole year since it came out’.

Her year of success comes to a conclusion with her performing on Flo Milli’s ‘Thanks for Coming Here, Ho’ Fall 2023 Tour, with much to be excited about in the upcoming year. ‘I’m looking forward to getting back in the studio. I feel like I haven’t been in the studio as much as I’d like’. We can’t wait to see what 2024 holds for Maiya The Don.

Photographer
Nicole Guillen
Stylist
Roxanne Brown
Hair Stylist
Jalene Rodriguez
MUA
Layla Raye-Ryan
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