REVIEW: The Infectious Energy of ‘IRL’ Creates Sparks from Beginning to End

What were you doing at 13 years old? Chasing girls? Whispering about boys? Skipping class? Between the endless wave of homework and failing gym, I was in a personal battle over the type of writer I wanted to be. That being said, ambitious Mahalia signed her first major record deal at 13 years old and never looked back.

This Grammy Nominated Leicester-born singer/songwriter recently dropped her anxiously awaited second album, IRL, and it is pure fire and rebellion. “I’m so proud of this album and so proud of how much I challenged myself to just let those stories out,” says Mahalia.

Including 9 brand-new and never-before-heard tracks, IRL also includes previously released hit singles “Terms & Conditions,” “Ready,” and “Cheat,” featuring the rapid-fire rap vocals from JoJo.

With enigmatic and booty-bouncing beats throughout, Mahalia is in her own zone with IRL, and when you give it a good, solid listen, you will witness the tremendous talent that this artist is becoming. Putting her rules on the table for every man to experience, IRL is a rare form of therapy with hip-hop undertones for the fed-up; I’m done with you and your sh%t, broken-hearted woman. It screams urgent yet essential all at once. Tracks like “Cheat,” “Ready,” “In My Bag,” and “Hey Stranger” provide a welcome reminder to women that it is never okay to settle. Not even within your own spirit. We should always strive to be better and stronger than yesterday. Mahalia’s sound is new, rich, urban, and just naughty enough. This soul crooner and forever champion of women getting back in the driver’s seat of their romantic lives features a slew of bold lyrics like “Listening to my own voice only” and “You just came out of another bad break up, and now you want me to be your in-between.” 

Providing additional momentum to the audacious blend that is IRL,  there is an impressive list of collabs supporting Mahalia and her journey; Destin Conrad, Stormzy, Joyce Wrice, and the steller Kojey Radical featured on the “Wassup” track.

With her unique cultural significance, Mahalia has the ingredients to be a top-tier R&B headliner. Honestly, you feel just a bit more empowered when the final chord on the last track is done on IRL. Not only does IRL emphasize the passion and dedication Mahalia has, but it marks another stepping stone for the long and celebrated career that awaits her.