If the phrase “born for this” had a poster child, it’d be Yung Baby Tate. Even before her rising star status she attended the Grammy Awards as a plus one in the belly of her then-pregnant mother, R&B singer-songwriter Dionne Farris.
Fast forward to a little over 20 years later and Tate Farris, otherwise known as Yung Baby Tate, is in a lane of her own. If you’ve scrolled through TikTok in the past year and heard the catchy phrase: “I am healthy, I am wealthy, I am rich, I am that bitch”, you have Tate to thank. The Georgia native’s viral hit ‘I AM’ featuring Flo Milli became one of the biggest trends on the video app in 2020, as users recited the track’s memorable mantra.
But despite viral fame, Farris is far from an overnight success, having spent the past decade building a name for herself as an independent artist. Starting to produce her own music as a teenager, in 2015 she dropped her first project ‘ROYGBIV’, a seven-track release inspired by the colour spectrum which featured a dreamy, pop leaning soundscape that’s still present in her music today. Since then there’s been a host of releases (including her debut album ‘Girls’ in 2019) the latest of which is the deluxe version of her stellar sixth EP ‘After the Rain’, that was released earlier this year. This new version of the project extends the tracklist, and boasts the addition of fan favourite tunes like ‘Eenie Meenie’.
Alongside her prolific music career, Farris also stays busy with TV appearances on the latest season of US reality show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, and keeps her creative juices flowing by posting her own remixed guest verses of popular songs such as Doja Cat’s ‘Get Into It’ and Brent Faiyaz’s ‘Wasting Time’ online.
For the latest in NME’s In Conversation, Yung Baby Tate joins us over Zoom from Atlanta to discuss the inspirations behind her latest album, working with 6lack and her iconic online remixes. Here’s what we learned.
The greatest lesson she learned making ‘After The Rain’ is to put herself first
Yung Baby Tate doesn’t shy away from expressing herself and how she feels, and her latest project ‘After the Rain’ is no exception. She explains that the project was purely based on emotion, reflecting her process of overcoming heartbreak.
The EP has a cohesive story she wanted to tell, with the additional six tracks that appear at the beginning of the deluxe EP depicting the times in a breakup “when the rain was coming down”. Then midway through when you reach single ‘Lesson Learned’ it changes to when: “the rain has stopped, the clouds are gone and the sun is shining again.”
The project has a reflective tone to it, especially on cuts like ‘Me First’ where Tate sings: “I learned some lessons/I earned some blessings”. What lessons did she learn while making the project? “The biggest lesson that I have learned is to put yourself first…if you’re not doing good, how’s a partnership [like a relationship] gonna do good?”
She approaches creating an album like schoolwork
Since starting to make music at the age of 13, Yung Baby Tate has built a catalogue of projects centred around different concepts. Across eight releases she’s had works based on everything from colours (2015’s ‘ROYGBIV’) to wordplay on her name in a project she titled ‘Words With Tate’ (all the songs had titles that featured “tate” in them).
For Farris, creating a world around each era of her music allows room for more fun in her creative process.
“I’m able to approach it almost like a school project,” she explains of her creative mindset. “I was always really good in school and I got hundreds on all my projects. That’s how I feel about approaching my albums. It’s like this is another project that I’m about to get a hundred on.”
There’s one major difference being an artist today compared to the ‘90s
Success in the music industry clearly runs in the family, as Yung Baby Tate’s mum Dionne Farris had a thriving career as a singer-songwriter and producer throughout the ’90s. Her mother was even nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at Grammys, for her single ‘I Know’ in 1996.
Now, 25 years later, Yung Baby Tate is forging her own path, and while some aspects of the industry remain similar, she believes that a major difference between her and her mother’s careers is the rise of social media and lack of privacy.
Tate expresses how in the ’90s those in the public eye could have lives nobody knew about, adding: “now everyone knows every aspect of celebrities lives, from what they ate this morning to who they go in a fight with then they were 12. It’s so invasive.”
“Back in the ‘90s people had much more of a respect for celebrities and musicians because there was this barrier…but nowadays that kind of respect is gone because [of social media], and people just feel like: ‘oh I know you!'”
Working with 6lack on her latest EP was bittersweet
Exposure and support are two vital ingredients to building longevity as an independent artist. Social media has paved the way for musicians to build an audience of their own as well as catch the attention of established acts. In the case of Yung Baby Tate, one of her first nods from a major artist was from fellow Georgia artist 6lack, who gave her a shout out on Twitter.
Their friendship came full circle with Tate’s ‘After the Rain’ EP, as he was the only other feature on her latest release aside from Flo Milli, with the duo collaborating on the drill-inspired track ‘Let It Rain’.
Yung Baby Tate recorded her project during the pandemic so the chance to finally work with 6lack was a bittersweet moment due to lockdown restrictions that kept them from recording together in person. However, Tate remains appreciative of 6lack helping in the creation of the final product. “ I hope that we can make some more stuff together because I really appreciate 6lack. I appreciate his artistry – his pen is sickening.”
Fans encouraged her to freestyle on Doja Cat’s ‘Get Into It (Yuh)’ – so she did!
“I do it if I really like the song,” she explains of her choices behind these freestyles. “With [Doja Cat’s] ‘Get Into It (‘Yuh)‘ I just loved that song, it’s my favourite song on the project, and I was like ‘I want to do a remix to it’”.
— babytate (@yungbabytate) July 5, 2021
She adds that fans encouraging her to remix the tune also helped sway her decision. “I also saw a lot of my fans were saying: ‘omg, you would have sounded so good on this project, so I was like ‘well let me see what I would have sounded like’”.
Her new verses on other artist’s songs is a way to keep listeners engaged. “Right now, I’m in a position where I’m in-between two deals, so I’m not going to be dropping any of my music right now, so to keep people engaged and also to take advantage of the new fans and followers I’m getting every week because of Love & Hip Hop”
“It’s like, ‘why not?’ I always have fun writing, I kill feature verses, which is why I think I’m so good at doing these remixes.”
Yung Baby Tate’s ‘After the Rain: Deluxe’ is out now