Haviah Mighty 
Crying Crystals 

Mighty Gang • 2023

Haviah Mighty’s latest full-length is an introspective relationship album that covers most lyrical and musical bases.

Where Haviah Mighty’s last release, the 2021 mixtape Stock Exchange was history-making (the first time a woman won the Juno Award for rap album of the year), and 2019’s Polaris Music Prize-winning 13th Floor was history-marking (charting the history and legacy of slavery in North America through the ages), Crying Crystals is all her story. Mighty’s latest full-length is thematically an introspective relationship album that covers most emotional bases (from lust and infatuation to infidelity and regret to rebound and reawakening) while exploring new sonic territory for her. In a tweet days after dropping the album, Mighty emphasizes just what a seismic shift Crying Crystals represents for her: “I don’t know if I’m happy it’s out or if I’m angry for allowing myself to be this vulnerable. One day at a time.”

That is indicative of how Mighty approaches the collision of feelings and sound styles on the album: one track at a time. Opener “Snowfall” finds Mighty in a state of confused freefall, trying to juggle a fresh new love interest with competing responsibilities and outside distractions (“You know my schedule, mama, you know how it go, gimme bly / She like, no, your priority yourself, which is fine / But you ain’t communicate your change of plans / And then she begins to cry / as she tells me she don’t think I even try”). “Stress Free” is anything but; its skittering beats and mournful string arrangements mark the lowest of lows and deliver Mighty’s ultimatum: “If you gotta go, then you gotta go now / Go now.”

Yet, even as anger, pain, and disappointment pockmark Mighty’s autobiographical lyrics throughout Crying Crystals’ first and second acts, her music takes a raucous and rousing turn outward, flirting and playing around with genre and styles that lead to some of her most thrilling sounds ever. “Huh” is a clear highlight, blending pop and electronic dance music urgency with hip-hop fluidity that will fill dance floors for decades. “Room Service” introduces the uninitiated to the pulses and pleasures of amapiano, where deep house meets jazzy synths to soundtrack a seductive hookup behind a locked hotel room door.

Getting this up close and personal is a bold and brave move for Mighty. Still, throughout Crying Crystals, she never loses sight of her strong suit: powerful narrative arcs and the storyteller’s flair for turns of phrases and mic-drop-worthy one-liners. Still, at the heart of it all, the story is straightforward and relatable to anyone listening: you don’t win big in the game of love and acceptance if you don’t take risks and aren’t willing to break some expensive shit along the way.

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Charlotte Cornfield 
Could Have Done Anything