Mapei is a Swedish-American artist best known for the hit single “Don’t Wait,” which was released via Downtown Records in 2013. Her debut album, Hey Hey, was released the following year and gained huge critical acclaim.
Mapei was born in Providence, Rhode Island, but moved to Sweden before she turned ten years old. She began splitting her time between America and Sweden after her Liberian mother and Swedish stepfather moved to Stockholm, living in Stockholm during the school year and returning to America for the summers. At age eighteen Mapei moved to Brooklyn, working as a bartender in a Swedish restaurant in New York’s Chinatown neighborhood. She stayed for three years, taking in the local scene and even living with Swedish artist Lykke Li for a period, before deciding to return to Sweden and immerse herself in Stockholm’s pop scene.
Mapei got her first international breakthrough with the song “Video Vixens” in 2007, and she released her debut EP as a rapper on Downtown Records in 2009. After the release of The Cocoa Butter Diaries, Mapei began work on her debut album with French electronic duo Justice. However, she was not happy with the final result, and decided to scrap the record. After realizing that she was hitting a wall creatively, she came to the conclusion that she wanted to start singing, telling W: “I was just out there freestyling without writing any songs … I needed to find some inspiration.” She spent the following years traveling, which led to extend stays in Tunisia, Portugal, and Brazil. After a particularly inspiring stint in Brazil, she decided to return to Stockholm and began working with producer Magnus Lidehäll – who also worked with Veronica Maggio on her fourth album.
“Don’t Wait” premiered on the website of influential magazine The Fader in October 2013, and the track went viral immediately, repeatedly reaching #1 on the Hype Machine charts. It received universally positive reviews, with W declaring the song a “devilishly crafted piece of pop perfection” and Vogue praising it for possessing “catchy pop sensibility without falling into the trap of soft-edged lyricism.”
The song was remixed by a number of high-profile producers, including a very popular edit by Australian DJ Brynny, and others from Frankie Knuckles, Kingdom, and Giraffage. A version featuring Chance the Rapper was released in March 2014. Mapei also performed “Don’t Wait” on the Late Show With David Letterman on November 6, 2014, and has performed on various occasions on Swedish Television.