There’s a pretty good chance that if you aren’t heavily into pop music, you haven’t heard the name Slayyyter. The St. Louis pop songstress has quietly been on the rise over the last year, putting out bubblegum bass flavored pop music akin to that of Charli XCX. Over said time period, she’s gone from a niche artist known amongst the deepest circles of pop music fans with about a few thousand streams to a fairly hot name to hardcore pop fans with millions of streams on Spotify. Slayyyter’s fanbase has largely grown online, due to her innate knowledge and connection with stan culture as well as her unabashed love of 2000s pop culture. Her image is effortlessly cultivated to evoke the nostalgia of the Myspace age, when Paris Hilton and Heidi Montag ruled Hollywood’s A-list and pink velour tracksuits were the order of the day.
Slayyyter opens her self-titled mixtape with “BFF”, her debut single and collaboration with enigmatic pop producer, Ayesha Erotica. She and Ayesha trade off verses, name-checking Juicy Couture and using slang like “celly” that all sounds like it came straight out of the 2000s. However, they do it over a pounding electropop beat that sounds fresh and not unlike something you’d hear from PC Music. It’s a strong opener that sets the tone for the rest of the project. “Mine” sees the pop singer take a page of the 90s-house playbook, overlaying a bubbly and euphoric melody that matches her lovey-dovey lyrics. Simplicity is key here as the insidiously catchy yet bare bones “oh me, oh my” of her hook immediately ingratiates the material to the listener. Not surprisingly so, as the line was largely responsible for viral attention surrounding the track prior to its initial release as a single. “Alone” prominently flaunts the strong influence Britney Spears has had on Slayyyter, sounding like a significantly beefed-up version of Spears’s earlier material. Even Slayyyter’s vocals sound ripped from the pages of Spears’s baby-voiced handbook as she serves up attitude to an ex who has come crawling back to her for attention. She continues to wield her knowledge of Spears’s tricks of the trade on “Candy”, though never fails to put her own spin. She’s willing to express her sexuality more frankly than that of Spears, who largely relied on innuendo where Slayyyter would rather cut straight to the point. Over the grinding beat of “Cha Ching”, she gasses herself up and though her voice remains as baby voiced as ever, she instead serves up the attitude of 2000s contemporaries like Gwen Stefani and Fergie over the braggadocious track, where she effortlessly cuts a would-be hater down to size.
On “Devil”, Slayyyter dons a bad girl persona and ramps up her perfect Spears impression, pulling off a cut that rivals some of Spears’s own flawless In the Zone or Blackout cuts, but never losing her own personality in the process. She continues to lean into the Spears influence on “Ur Man”, where she even affectionately nods to her biggest influence as she attempts to convince a fellow girl she isn’t a rival for her boyfriend’s affections, ever so flippant as she brushes both boyfriend and girlfriend off. “Daddy AF” allows her to draw on more modern trap influences as she blends her brazen sexuality with her natural swagger, weaving in the club sounds of New Jersey and electroclash for a track that functions almost as a mission statement for Slayyyter in general. She dips into the waters of Lady Gaga’s work on “Motorcycle” from the grimy electronic beat down to sharing Gaga’s imagery for loving leather, she melds it with her strong 2000s Spears-Willa Ford-Brooke Hogan styled influences for a unique blend that Slayyyter makes her own. “Celebrity” is the apex of Slayyyter’s obsession with fame and 2000s pop culture, as she lyrically indulges in the touchstones of fame such as TMZ and revels in making it onto the D-list over Donatachi’s production which calls back to Gaga’s work on The Fame as well as David Guetta’s work during his peak, coming together for one of the mixtape’s most celebratory and exuberant tracks.
Slayyyter makes a saccharine play for 80s nostalgia on “Tattoo” with schoolgirl crush lyrics where she expresses a desire to spend the night on her love interest like a tattoo, buoyed by the production from Ms. Cheeseburger, which allows the track to come together for a light and sugary confection. The punchier “E-Boy” heavily relies on the internet-age personas of Slayyyter and her duet partner That Kid as they trade off verses, playfully seducing each other into a cyber relationship over Boy Sim’s production, which returns firmly to the PC Music influences in Slayyyter’s sound. “Touch My Body” is a sweet plea from Slayyyter to have her love interest physically engage with her, and melodically recalls Madonna’s debut era yet Boy Sim’s production ensures the track sounds like it belongs to the current age. Closing out the project with “Ghosttt”, Slayyyter enlists her frequent collaborator Robokid to rework an older single into a fresher and moodier soundscape and once again recalls Spears’s balladry as she does so, for an emotional finish with a strong vocal performance.
With her self-titled debut mixtape, Slayyyter has honed her sound for a project that reflects an artist with a clear vision. Capitalizing on a missing lane in pop music, she plays off the nostalgia of 2000s pop music and manages to turn the strong influences of her predecessors into her biggest strengths. On this record, Slayyyter proves that she is keenly aware of what she wants to offer pop music and weaponizes her knowledge of pop music from the past few decades to deliver a sound that is both familiar yet original. It’s even more impressive when you consider what she and her producers have managed to achieve without the backing of a major label: one of the year’s most personality-driven and instantly infectious pop projects of the year.