by Nadirah Simmons
Yung Baby Tate is a multitalented artist, whose creative ability knows no bounds. Not only does Tate rap, sing and produce, but she’s good at all in three in a way that doesn’t feel dubious. Tate is confident, resolved and constructs her music with certainty, effortlessly bouncing between genres. She’s the kind of artist you long for in music, and I argue even more-so in Hip-Hop, where unspoken rules dictate what artists should do, how they should dress, what they should write in their songs and at the most basic level: who they should be as an artist. Tate can’t be boxed in.
I first discovered Tate around this time last year, when her EP BOYS had just dropped. I’m not sure if the discovery happened on SoundCloud or Tumblr, but the track “Bubba Gump” was what hooked me to the Atlanta native. I did more digging, listening to her 2015 project ROYGBIV and even a Christmas EP that found her singing over pop and R&B harmonies. Her latest project, a full-length LP entitled GIRLS picks up right where her last release left off, with Yung Baby Tate transcending sounds while remaining herself at the core.
We caught up with the multitalented artist to talk about what it means to be an artist, the sound she describes as “urban pop,” her dream collaboration and more.
What does being an artist mean to you?
Being an artist means being myself and using the gifts God has granted me to bring joy into the world. Being an artist is self expression, self love, self indulgence and selflessness at the same time. The vulnerability it takes to openly express yourself for the entire world to hear, love, hate, relate to, or critique is scary at times but that’s what being an artist is all about.
How do you identify, and how important is this representation in music?
I identify as a bisexual black woman. I think all people should be represented in music, tv, in politics, anywhere that has some type of broad visibility. Everyone needs to feel seen and heard and understood. It’s important for me as a black girl to show young black girls they can be successful by just being themselves - every part of themselves -and shining their light in the world.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as “Bad Bitch Pussy Pop.” My music is for the gworls. I exist in music to be a boost to your day, that extra highlight when you’re getting ready at night, I am that friend hyping you up while twerking. My sound is fun. My sound is black girl magic. You could call it “Urban Pop” if you really want to put a label on it.
How has your education and upbringing affected your creative process?
I went to performing arts school from 3rd-12th grade. I’ve been professionally trained in music, acting, piano, and dance throughout those years and after high school. Having that type of upbringing just expands my knowledge and love for music so that when I make music I actually know what I’m doing. A lot of artists right now don’t know the first thing about composing a song or arranging vocals. I’m grateful to not be one of those artists.
Your mother is the legendary Dionne Farris, what role has she played in your path as an artist?
My mom raised me to have knowledge and culture in music. She made sure I was well rounded and well versed. A lot of the songs that the grandmas and aunties of today tell kids my age and younger “you don’t know nothing about this” I know a whole lot about. She wanted me to be educated in music so she made sure I got the proper training that would strengthen my natural inheritance from her. I got a lot from my teachers and instructors but my mom really taught me everything I know.
A while back you tweeted a picture of her pregnant with you attending the GRAMMYs, what importance, if any, do those awards shows play in the realm of music? Do you feel like institutions like that are equipped to reward art, especially art created by marginalized communities?
I think all awards are what you make them to be. For me, it’s something I want to accomplish because of the legacy I want to carry on from my mother. I just know that feeling of growing up looking at my mom’s GRAMMY sitting in the dining room every day and telling myself I’m gonna get one one day. I think the “best” is a subjective term. But I want people to think I’m the best at what I do and I think a lot of people share that same sentiment.
What was your vision for GIRLS?
My vision for GIRLS is a shift in the culture. Women calling the shots in this long “male-dominated” life we’ve been living. I want girls to feel the power they possess through this music. I want other women in the industry to collaborate more. We need each other. I wanted to show that. Young girls need to see that. We can succeed together, without tearing each other down. We can do things on our own. We can produce albums, write our own lyrics, make our own music without the assistance of a man. I want Girls to be a lesson.
We are alive in a time dominated by social media. How important is it for the artists nowadays to brand themselves and present their work in this manner?
It’s extremely important. It’s where everyone gets their news now. It’s where everyone gets their “new’s” as well. New artists. New designers. New dancers. New everything. Social Media is a large part of my career and how a large part of my fan base found me.
What does your city offer musically that is different from other regions?
Everything. I’m from Atlanta. Specifically Decatur, which is where a large percentage of the most popular artists are from. I’ve seen grown adults with whole lives they’ve left behind move here from other cities just to claim Atlanta to look cool. Atlanta is on top of everything. We start everything.
I’m a big fan of Black women taking time to relax and practicing self care. Outside of music, what do you do to receive stress and/or relax?
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
Your album features some of my favorite women in the game, Bbymutha and Kari Faux, how important is fellowship amongst women in music to you?
It’s so important to me because for years we’ve been pitted against each other when we are so much stronger together. It’s almost as if people know the power 2 or more women can hold together so they purposely try to make sure that doesn’t happen. I’ve never been the type of person who had to hate on someone else to feel good about myself. I give props when due and let my ego step aside when it comes to the art. The fact that I have five women who’s music I love on this project is honestly my favorite thing about Girls.
We’re in a time where it seems like politics are central to the art artists create. Nina Simone once said “An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times.” Do you agree or disagree, and why?
I think it would be kind of backwards to not somehow reflect the times and have some sort of commentary on the world we live in. As an artist, I use my music and my social media platforms to spread positive messages into this world and I definitely think every artist has the right and responsibility to do so as well.
What is your dream collaboration?
My dream collaboration is Pharrell. Imagine a project produced and written and performed by us both. Iconic. It needs to happen so I know it will one day. I’m waiting on you, P!
If you could sum up your plan for 2019 in one sentence, what would it be?
My foot will be stuck on your neck.