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Yaya Bey





Yaya Bey releases The Things I Can't Take With Me

Queens-bred and Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/storyteller/poet/producer/multimedia artist and record cover artist Yaya Bey is a one-woman art-generating army whose EP The Things I Can’t Take With Me (released in April on Big Dada Recordings) is comprised of six songs of resilience, defiance, and solidarity with “Black women just like me” that addresses the relatable theme of “all this shit I gotta let go of, just the things I can’t take with me” quoting directly from Ms. Bey’s Bandcamp page—the things to be left behind ranging from childhood trauma to addictive-but-ultimately-unhealthy relationships to music industry fuckery. But most of all the record seems to be about gathering the strength to persevere and flourish.

This latter emphasis comes across not only in the lyrics but also in the sonic textures and warm enveloping production full of gently jazzy guitars and baselines and horn loops and funky drums played with a light touch, plus all sorts of no doubt lovingly assembled sonic details like the layers of mouth percussion and luminous self-harmonizing heard on “We’ll Skate Soon” or the snatches of studio chatter/laughter and the warm surface noise of vinyl records heard on other tracks. The EP’s advance single and mini-manifesto “Fxck It Then” is a perfect example of all of the above employed in support of its opening declaration: “Fxck being good now I’m a bad bitch / Fxck staying down now I’m a savage / I ain’t average.”

And in the unlikely event you should question Yaya Bey’s “bad bitch” credentials consider the album that launched her recording career and the circumstances around it, quoting again from the Bandcamp page: 

Yaya Bey’s 2016 debut, The Many Alter-Egos of Trill’eta Brown, was an ambitious project that included a dreamy, largely acoustic mixtape, book, and digital collage inspired by her front-line activism as a street medic in Ferguson. “You spend two years of your life protesting and getting assaulted and arrested—you got a lot of shit to say after that,” Bey said.

And if should you need some more Yaya you can check out the 2020 quarantine-recorded follow-up LP Madison Tapes, and we also recommend this recent in-depth interview and DJ set she performed, broadcast live on The Duane Train radio program which goes out weekly on WFMU a/k/a "The Freeform Station of the Nation”--a station based out of Jersey City, a/k/a "Chilltown"--hosted by legendary DJ/selector Duane Harriott who assembles some the grooviest mixes of vintage and brand new soul, funk, disco, electro, and hip hop anywhere that I’ve heard. And then finally, or perhaps first of all, you're also advised to check out Yaya Bey performing live (yes, that's right live!) tonight alongside some friends at a Juneteenth celebration being held at Brooklyn’s Sultan Room (the livestream will still be available for a couple days after the show) with guests including Boston Chery and Run P. (Jason Lee)

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