Women and Southern artists have been dominating the scene lately like never before, and Atlanta’s Yung Baby Tate is steadily rising to the forefront in both of these categories with her new album, GIRLS. The self-produced project is easily going to be a staple for the rest of 2019, with a track titled for every mood and every type of GIRL.
Released on February 5th, the project traces the breakthrough of an innovative artist who takes ownership of the many forms that female can take. Tate’s creative confidence and strong technical knowledge solidify her as one to watch with an unparalleled artistic persona.
The first track, “New Girl” clocks in at just over 5 minutes. The lengthy intro feels nothing less than intentional in a world of 1-2 minute tracks that are gobbled up for replay value on digital streaming services. Tate takes her time to let you know that she’s here to make a statement and swim in newfound success as fame and funds flow in: “I’m a whole new girl now, ever since I got the bankroll, it’s been a whole new world now.”
“That Girl” is about having something no one can take away from you. This message is seriously important for Yung Baby Tate to transmit to her audience. She targets her positive energy to young women who might need someone to look to for guidance and inspiration. Tracks like this are made so relatable because of their joyful, assured delivery that gives you no other choice than to agree in your own right.
The singer-songwriter-producer calls on emergent Atlanta peers Killumantii and Mulatto on “Pretty Girl (Remix)” to help show that this character can be embodied by any girl at any point. She can still flex and get it on her own. The Pretty Girl doesn’t need to take advantage of her looks to get by with the help of a man: she flips this stereotype on its head and redefines pretty as a means to prosperity by self-sufficiency. This song is everything for a girl who needs to recognize the power in accepting one’s own fierceness both visually and spiritually.
The knocking minimal production on “Bad Girl” gets a clear message across: “Ooh, she BAD.” That’s how we’re supposed to feel. We look to Tate for mantras like this, to celebrate ourselves and each other. “She” is our best friend, our sister, our mother, our reflection in the mirror. The hard-hitting verse that Tate raps midway through is reminiscent of all the boss women that paved the way for creative women to flourish. We can take on pieces of them to empower ourselves.
The “Cozy Girl” listens to Drake and contemplates pulling up on the boy next door to Netflix and chill. I imagine the Cozy Girl Googling sidechain compression techniques while sitting cross-legged in a rolling chair wearing a Queen Helene clay mask. The track’s outro has a huge Motown-meets-Madonna vibe, too, illustrating the musical diversity that influences Tate’s songwriting.
Tate boils it all back down to two purely dope Southern women going off on a beat with the entrance of the “Freaky Girl.” BbyMutha’s cadence and flow are electric and punctuated. “Freaky Girl” is an overt celebration of female sexuality to feel secure in their most intimate forms of self-expression, from the bedroom to the studio (bonus points for a bedroom studio).
In fact, the progression of songs from “Freaky Girl” to “Hot Girl” tells the most linear story on the album. Tate relays how confusing falling in love is for the girl who enjoys herself and the company of another until realizing she wants to take things to the next level.
Everything up to this point makes you feel so entangled in the multiple characters Tate takes on: you are her, she is you, we are all them at times. “Play Girl” lands so beautifully at this point in the album because by now, we’ve fallen in love with ourselves first. We’ve made it through the rigorous self-worship that needs to happen for women who are so consistently broken down by systemic and environmental forces. “I’m not a mothafuckin’ XBOX, I’m not a PlayStation.” Tate’s “Lover Girl” puts on display this internal struggle of having done so much emotional labor and confronts the potential of a relationship that proves promising but still uncertain. Baby Rose, an underground vocalist from Atlanta, GA, lends her voice in an absolutely stunning vulnerable expression that complements the track’s depth and sobriety. Tate reflects on selfish wants as “Flower Girl” encapsulates the melancholy of a relationship that fails where love still remains. Then, the “Hot Girl” picks up her shit and moves on, reminding herself of every belief she had cemented earlier. Kari Faux assists Tate over the thumping bass that takes up sonic space in the same way that these women assert their presence all over the album.
The album’s unforgettable compilation of so many vibes has the ability to resonate with women and men everywhere. Yung Baby Tate spoke with me over the phone to talk about inspiration, production, and execution regarding GIRLS:
What was your creative vision for the album?
My creative vision for GIRLS was that I wanted to show how in every girl there are multiple girls and also how all girls kind of reflect each other. It’s an ode to womanhood and being a girl and what that’s like because we’re so multifaceted as people. We go through so many different things, so many different emotions, so just showing what that feels like and how it feels to be empowered in everything you are as a woman. That was my vision for this project because I have BOYS because that’s kind of my take on men and my relationships with men, and then with GIRLS I wanted it to be something that felt good, for women to feel, for women to listen to. That was my vision for GIRLS.
How might GIRLS work in your catalog as a response to your previous work, BOYS?
BOYS is kind of like, if it was a breakup, BOYS is a breakup album and GIRLS is like the bounce-back, that glow, that post-breakup glow, where you’re really appreciating yourself. That boy-free glow, basically. That’s the relationship between BOYS and GIRLS. As far as the music, I definitely expanded on my range, exploring different genres and different musical environments on GIRLS [different than on] BOYS. More going back to singing and stuff, and trying to explore new avenues. With the content on BOYS it was like, “Fuck y’all niggas,” and GIRLS is like, “Where my girls at?” you know, like, “I just broke up with my man, let’s go to the club.” *laughs*
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from just life, the people around me, my friends, color, fashion– I could get inspiration from just about anywhere. Waking up is inspirational, every day. You know, with music, I’m inspired to inspire people. The fact that people see [my] music makes me feel good about myself and raises my confidence so much. That inspires me. That inspires me to keep making music and lets me know that I’m doing something right. Women definitely inspire me a lot.
How do you define your sound?
I don’t feel like I have a definitive sound, but in a way, I do feel like when you hear me you know that’s me, but I wouldn’t necessarily think I can put it into a genre. I just want to make people feel good. My musical existence is to make people feel good, feel happier, express themselves in a way that they may not have without that song or that beat. That’s kind of where I am. This is who I am.
How did you approach producing the album?
When it came to producing the album, I really big on feelings and emotions when it comes to music. So with the beats, I thought about what types of girls I wanted to represent. I kind of do this with all of my beats, where all my projects are conceptual, so I have certain beats I’ve already made and I’m like, “What does this feel like? What girl does this feel like? What kind of emotion does this bring out of me?” And I just go based off of that. With “Lover Girl,” for instance, I made that beat before I was even working on GIRLS. I went back to it, and the little synth I have in there felt like a heartbeat to me so it’s just like, this makes me feel like a heart, but a broken heart. I just started writing off of that and that’s how I do all my beats. How does this make me feel, or how do I want to make people feel based on this?
How did you get your start producing your own work?
I learned how to produce when I was about 10. This guy at my church taught me how to produce on an MPC and then I started making my own beats when I was 13 on GarageBand and it kind of just went from there. From about 13 to 17, I was making my own albums and stuff and then my computer crashed and I wasn’t making music for a while. When I went to college, I got my own laptop and started going back into it making music on Logic, making my own stuff and putting it out. That’s how I started making beats.
What do you, as a team, within this creative production process, have to do to make everything fall into place the way you intend for the artist?
I think a lot of it comes together because visuals and sounds have to complement each other. The cover art was a big part of GIRLS because I’m really big on having good cover art. It draws people’s attention. It makes people say, “Oh, what’s that?”– it piques their interest. With GIRLS, I really wanted to make sure that even if I wasn’t able to do a video for every song, at least having [the cover art be] a representation so people can understand what the project is and what its purpose is, I think that without it, a lot of this project might not have been taken as well as it has been so far. Putting that together was really important to me. I reached out to the right people to shoot it, the right models to be in it. We hand-picked every model that’s on the cover based on their actual personality, who they are as a person and what they represent. It all goes together hand in hand. One without the other would kind of be just for nothing.
What do you want the listener to take away from this project?
Tate: I want the listener to take away that girls are fucking awesome, and that they should love women around them more, and respect women around them more, and if they are a woman themselves, they should respect themselves more because women are fucking awesome.
What is any advice that you may have for people who are breaking into the music industry?
Tate: My advice is to be yourself.
Proving consistent from the release of ROYGBIV to BOYS to GIRLS, Yung Baby Tate can be considered a positive influence on a generation of young women entering the music industry. Her position of visibility and her success, especially as a woman of color, has the potential to encourage more girls to infiltrate a field in which we are vastly underrepresented: production. What sets Tate apart from her peers of any gender is that she has her hands on the whole project from start to finish. While collaboration is a celebrated part of the music-making process, her clear presentation of technical knowledge is highly advantageous from a business perspective. Being able to put that food on your own plate, having made it from scratch and not owing anyone a bite, is empowering.
GIRLS encourages us to embrace the sides of ourselves that we might most conceal from the world—the New, the Bad, and the Wild.
Listen to GIRLS by Yung Baby Tate, available everywhere, and catch her on The Acrylic Tour with Leikeli47.