Rising Q&A: Yaya Bey & Roxanne Shante
Roxanne Shante: First of all, I want to say you’re an incredible singer, and I am not saying that because I’ve seen you grow up from screaming and yelling and singing to the artist you are today. However, I don’t know when you decided you wanted to be a singer. When was that?
Yaya Bey: First, I wanted to be a rapper. I think I had a good understanding of melody and being in the pocket. But, that wasn’t my ministry. Then I wanted to be a dancer.
RS: That makes sense. I can see all of that because your dad is Grandaddy I.U., one of the best performers and writers the game has ever seen. He wrote for so many people, even me, and (laughs) not everyone could write for me, please believe it.
YB: I knew I wanted to be a songwriter, and that was seemingly such a difficult lane to go into that I decided I was just going to sing my own songs. I had to find a way to get the ball rolling.
RS: Tell me about your song “Time.”
YB: “Time” is a song about these times in my life I had growing up, where I would lay out to myself, ‘Oh, I’ll have this by 25 and this by 30.’ As I was getting older, I was starting to notice these imaginary things I laid out for myself, and it’s more about learning and trusting the process. You really have to trust yourself, and I felt like if I kept following a trajectory that I was going to get there.
RS: So there is a way to accept that everything happens in time, on time, all the time.
YB: Yeah, that’s what the song is about.
RS: What made you sample your dad’s song “Dance To This” for “Time”?
YB: Well, it is my favorite performance of his and…..yours (laughs). I remember my mother playing a video of the performance and being very excited about that. As an adult, I re-visited it on YouTube, and I just knew I needed to do something with the song.
RS: Do you think song speaks on behalf of your personality overall?
YB: I absolutely think it speaks to the place I am currently at in my life. I feel like I am getting closer to being comfortable with myself. What I was feeling all those years ago was just actually just finding comfort.
RS: What else is it that you do?
YB: I’m a visual artist, a curator and I teach kindergarten. The kids force you to have patience and [understand] the human condition. At the very basic level, we all seek validation.
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