Rapper and singer Yung Baby Tate tells us why her goal is to create music for "girls to feel safe"
Yung Baby Tate is a singer, a rapper, a writer, a producer, a performer, and a natural born star. When I called her up, the multi-hyphenate talent was in the studio making beats. Fresh off of her first tour where she joined Brooklyn artist Leikeli47 across North America, Yung Baby Tate is resting her body, but her creative genius continues to thrive. The artist has been releasing music since 2007, but her latest LP (and first full-length album), GIRLS, debuted February 2019 and recently hit one million streams thanks to her fans, affectionately called the “tots.” On the title track, “GIRLS,” Yung Baby Tate raps and sings, introducing the world to 11 complex girls, all with different moods. GIRLS Deluxe, released June 25th, introduces “Mean Girl,” “Rich Girl,” “Girl,” and a remix version of “Play Girl”.
Yung Baby Tate blends elements of classic R&B, fun notes of pop, and the attitude of hip hop, creating what she calls “bad bitch feel good bops.” She writes and produces her own songs, adding a layer of individuality to her music. Through her art, Yung Baby Tate creates a space for fans to enjoy themselves freely, and outside of the studio, her fiery energy cannot be contained. The 23-year-old Georgia native makes sure to use her platform to stand up for the women and girls who find their place in her songs.
While chatting with Yung Baby Tate, we discussed the freedoms and constraints of being an independent artist, the importance of using her platform for empowerment, the direction of her upcoming music. and more.
HelloGiggles: You just got off tour! How was that?
Yung Baby Tate: Tour was fun! Tour was an experience, a learning experience. I had fun getting to know and seeing my fans in different states that I’ve never been to. Gaining new fans based off them seeing me perform—it was really fun. I had some ups and some downs; we ended up getting our rental broken into and they stole our merch.
HG: Oh wow. That’s a lot.
YBT: Yes girl, it was crazy. .
HG: After experiencing your first tour, what is the number one takeaway going forward on your next tour?
YBT: There’s so many! But I guess number one would be to prepare my body physically. I knew this going on to the tour; I kept saying ‘Yeah, I gotta start working out so I don’t die,’ and I didn’t and I almost died. So definitely to prepare my body. I feel like everything else was kind of just rolling with the punches. But as far as performing every night, barely getting rest, and then going to the next state and doing it again, it’s taxing on your body. So just making sure I get proper exercise next time.
HG: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to the tour, but I did see some clips. You have proven yourself to be an all-star performer with vocals who can rap with your music—not over recorded vocals. You also write and produce all of your music. How does it feel to be that girl? You do it all.
YBT: It feels natural to me. This is what I’ve been doing ever since I was 13 and started making my own music. This is everything that I’ve been doing since I was a kid coming to fruition. There are times when I need a little break from being that girl. It’s not easy being that girl. …I take a little break for myself and calm down, chill out. I write and produce everything so it’s so many jobs I have for myself, but it’s fun. I love doing it.
HG: For you, does being an independent artist mean more freedom or more work?
YBT: I think it’s a little bit of both. It’s definitely way more freedom because I don’t have a label telling me, ‘Tate you need to get this single in right now and do this and do that.’ But there is also the extra work that comes from me having to push myself and having to promote myself. I have my distribution company Stream Cut that helps a lot with promotion and media, but a lot of the job is on me. It definitely is a bit harder and I’m in the position where my fans don’t realize that. They’re comparing me to signed, major label artists, asking ‘Why aren’t you doing this, why aren’t you doing that?’ And it’s like…you guys, they’re signed to major labels; y’all gotta just wait a little bit and work with me.
HG: It’s more work, but you do get that freedom to use social media according to how you think you should, and to speak up for what you believe. How important is it for you to continue to be that voice— whether on social media or in your music?
YBT: It’s so important to me. Even before I actually started doing it and started speaking, it was really important to me. I feel like I have a voice and people listen to me. Whether they want to listen to criticize or listen to learn, people listen to me. I feel like there are a lot of young girls that look up to me, whether they’re my age or younger than me, so I’ve always taken that responsibility. A lot of people don’t want to be a “role model,” but I’ve always just looked at that as a responsibility. When you get to a certain point of visibility, you have that responsibility. It’s just like a natural thing, and you either take it or you don’t.
I’ve always been the type of person that wants good things to happen in the world. I’m always trying to help educate somebody on how they can be a better person and how they can add more good to the world. It’s really, really important to me. A lot of people applaud me for speaking out on different artists, and they’re like, ‘I guess you can do that because you’re not signed.’ But even if I was signed, I’m still not going to let no bullshit fly. That just goes against who I am. I’m not about to sit here and watch Kodak Black harass Young M.A. online. We are all seeing this [kind of stuff] happen in real time. Back in the day, we didn’t have that ability to view these things and to speak so freely. Now that we do, a lot of people aren’t taking that [opportunity]. You have the power to say something, and your words are powerful, so speak up.
HG: I saw your viral tweet about Kodak Black, who has been accused of sexual assault. You used your voice to speak out against an artist of that magnitude in a space where other artists don’t normally do so. How was it dealing with backlash on Twitter from Kodak Black’s fans or rape apologists? Did you feel that future career opportunities may be in danger, or did that not even matter to you?
YBT: Look, first of all, I muted that Tweet before it went crazy viral. It had 1,000 retweets and I muted it; then, it got to, like, 13,000. I don’t even know what it’s at right now, but the people who were coming at me like, ‘Oh, you stupid’—I’m not even going to respond to you because that lets me know you are a ignorant person and ignorant by choice. I feel like if that statement was enough to mess up an opportunity for me in the future, then that opportunity wasn’t meant for me in the first place. The things that I speak up about—I’m never afraid of what the backlash might be, whether its from the fans or the artist themselves. I said something about a rapper and someone told me he rapper came to them and asked, ‘Can you tell her to stop?’ No! Tell him to stop being lame and I won’t have anything to say.
HG: I feel like a lot of artists, not even just young artists, don’t have the guts to speak out on the actions of their industry peers. That accountability is important. And as someone who is so aware, I know that at one point you mentioned that you were going to stop making sexually explicit music because of your young fans. How do you balance that with being a woman who fully owns her sexual capabilities and who wants to create that kind of music? How are you going to navigate that?
YBT: I think it’s really just about being mindful of who is listening to me. Not necessarily trying to censor myself, but just being aware of [my audience]. I think that, nowadays, music is so explicit and vulgar. In older music, when they were talking about sex, it was just hidden. It wasn’t like, ‘Yo girl, I’ma put my dick in your face.’ I obviously have sex, but I don’t want to put it in their face. Kids are innocent. I don’t want to be the person to corrupt that.. That’s not to say that everyone else needs to do that. Kids are going to listen to what they listen to, especially if their parents aren’t monitoring. So that’s why I feel like it is my responsibility to watch what I’m giving them.
HG: In your music videos, like your video for “Wild Girls,” we see all-women casts, which is rare, and you have music that is not about heartbreak. You spoke with PAPER Magazine about how it was important for you to create a safe space for women in that video. Can you talk about how you create those safe spaces for girls through your music?
YBT: That’s what keeps me going a lot of times. Seeing so many people on Twitter and Instagram saying things like, ‘Your music makes me feel so confident,’ or ‘I’m listening to Yung Baby Tate right now and feel like that girl.’ It really makes me feel like I’m doing my job. I do want Black girls to feel great. I want them to feel like that bitch because we are by default. I do take pride in that. With the “Wild Girl” video, it’s everything that I do. I want girls to feel safe—that’s my goal. And to not only feel safe, but to be safe in this world, have safe spaces to be themselves, whatever self that is. Whether that’s a wild girl, a cozy girl, a crazy girl—just being able to be that without feeling like someone is judging them. That’s always my goal.
HG: On “Girls,” you introduce listeners to 11 different girls. Which one of those girls do you feel most like?
YBT: Most times, I’m probably “Cozy Girl,” then “Play Girl.” “That Girl” is just me in general.
HG: You are friends with other artists like Queen Key and Megan Thee Stallion. Can we expect some collabs?
YBT: On the next project, I’m phasing into singing more than rapping. The next project will reflect that. I’m talking with 6lack to see if there’s a fit for him because we are friends. I’m trying to see if Kehlani wants to get on the project; we recently followed each other. I’m like, hmm, let me work my way. Queen Key—we’re definitely going to work together. I don’t know if it will be on the next project, but we’re definitely going to get something in.
HG: Has your 2019 gone as expected? What goals do you want to accomplish before the year is up?
YBT: This year has gone pretty well. I’ve been working and seeing the results. I’m looking forward to continuing doing that. Putting out good things in this world. Creative visuals, good music, and great shows. I’m about to do Rolling Loud, and I’m doing Lyrical Lemonade fest this summer. A few other festivals are in the works for the fall. I’m excited to continue growing and see where I go.
GIRLS Deluxe was released on June 25th, 2019, and includes the song “Mean Girl” featuring Queen Key and Asian Doll.