Every day we walk amongst champions who will never be heard. Most won’t have the confidence to speak up or the motivation to express themselves, thus halting them from becoming the creative butterfly they were truly destined to become.
They keep their creativity under wraps because it might represent a state of turmoil that they don’t want the world to see, hear, or speak about. It takes a lot of courage to throw yourself out there into the digital abyss because you never know who is listening to you or searching for you.
We have to applaud the artists who allow us to peek into the most delicate moments of their lives. We didn’t realize how much of an honor it was until we spoke to New York singer-songwriter YaYa Bey about her latest EP This Too.
You probably first caught wind of YaYa Bey back in 2016 when she dropped The Many Alter-Egos of Trill’eta Brown. The extended play was a celebration of the fullness of Black women according to Essence and devoted to the liberation of Black queens everywhere.
If you missed that drop of poetic goodness two years later you might’ve heard Bey’s single “Circle and Squares” which debuted on Pitchfork exclusively. The track served as a deep investigation into “the sacrifices that men expect women to make in relationships.”
Why the two-year gap between the release of The Many Alter-Egos of Trill’eta Brown and This Too? Bey had to take time to curate the perfect sound that would identify what she was really going through – an engagement, a marriage, and a divorce.
The trifecta of events definitely had a stressful effect on her creative process and each moment marked an end to a version of a follow-up tape, resulting in the 20-minute stripped down EP This Too.
“This project was way more traumatic to make than the last project,” said Bey.
Like the three chapters of Bey’s relationship with her ex-husband This Too also went through three drafts. Each scratched version was in line with her engagement, marriage, and divorce.
While listening to the intro track “Lullaby” it’s easy to pick up that it’s the beginning of a battle with Bey’s discernment and trusting love. A tantalizing sample plays at the start of the track, sucking you into Bey’s situation and the EP as a whole.
“Go on tell me what love is…What this feeling is?”
Truth be told, there’s no grand message for This Too but the project is surely something that you’ll walk away from feeling like you’ve embarked on an emotional journey.
“This is what I want you to walk away from…, said Bey.”
From “Lullaby” Bey’s love for her “mans” begins to deteriorate and the song “Fairy Tale” proves that. A smoothly sang ‘fuck you’ pierces the eardrum at the top of the track as Bey continues to dive deeper musically alongside a relaxing guitar riff.
Delving deeper into the second song off of the album, lyrics like “You don’t get to waste my fairytale,” leave you with this growing anger that can’t find the right place to manifest. Still, you know it’s there and you just don’t know where to direct it, yet.
Can you imagine the pain that Bey was going through knowing that her ex was not the person she thought he was? She found out the hard way that he’s a liar, a user, and a cheater.
Over the course of her relationship with this “man” Bey trusted, the singer depleted her funds, was bamboozled into carrying two rents, had to put her dream on hold, got jumped in her own house, and found out that her ex-husband was cheating the entire time.
What’s the craziest part? She had to still work with him in order to finish the album. Think of every single guitar riff as a strum of pain.
This Too’s interlude “Shine” featuring a snippet from Grandaddy IU is a quick reminder of what it looks like when someone really loves you before hopping into “Long Way,” “Mine,” “Bullet,” and “Best Thang.”
You can hear a rhythmic pulse of hurt in Bey’s voice on “The Long Way” as it was submitted after moving past early bruises in her marriage and on “MINE” the remnants from an earlier version of the EP.
“I like to think one heart, one mind, one soul…I like to think that your mine, mine mine, mine. Remember who you belong to…,” sings BEY
Riddled with Jamaican reggae samples and sound effects, “Bullet,” you can imagine, is an anthem for those who are in a relationship who also need to make sure whatever parasite is sucking them dry finally pays up.
“Best Thang” is a moment of self-realization for Bey as she sings “I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to you… I got the juice. You got the juice by association. You fucking with my patience.”
“We’re getting divorced…I’m done,”said Bey
Rounding out This Too is “All God’s Children” and “3AM @ Toni’s.” Symbolizing the end of the project, but also the marriage, both songs were recorded during the waning moments of Bey’s relationship, with their divorce being finalized in the same month the album was.
Both songs are an entrance into recovery and shed light onto the ghostly silhouette of Bey’s ex-husband. She embraces loneliness at the end and to me at least is ready to make the first step to recovery – embracing the pain.
We hope that you all will take a listen to This Too because it’s more than an EP, it’s a musical search for self.