culture

Yung Baby Tate Is Here, There and Everywhere

Where is Yung Baby Tate?

That’s difficult for me to discern on Jan. 24, two nights before the Grammy Awards, where the 23-year-old artist has a Best Rap Album nomination for her work on Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III album. At this point, the Los Angeles sun has receded into a crisp winter night blanketing the streets and addresses in darkness, so I can’t make out which house is the one Yung Baby Tate’s manager directed me to. Only the lights of cars that traverse the narrow dirt road in this residential area and the faint lights of homes pierce the night. 

Tate and I were supposed to do this interview the day before. But by Tate’s own admission, she was submerged in the feels, staring out the window of expelling her grief into a microphone. So, before Tate’s manager’s assistant emerged on the front porch as a beacon of guidance, I had no idea where Tate was physically or mentally. But the moment I crossed the threshold into her Airbnb, Tate made it clear where she was: She was here and she had arrived.

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Yung Baby Tate in LA. / Maggie Shannon for ONE37pm

“Here” for Tate wasn’t only the modest single-family home in the hillside neighborhood of Los Feliz in central LA where she was staying. “Here” was Grammy weekend, as a nominee for Best Rap Album for her contributions to Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III album. To those whose first exposure to Tate’s brand of music was that Dreamville album, Tate’s the product of 15 seconds of fame—the length of time she appears on ROTD III’s “Don’t Hit Me Right Now.” For her legion of fans who have grown since Tate’s 2015 EP ROYGBIV, she got here being unapologetically raunchy enough to “need Jesus cuz that dick a demon” on her song “Dope D” and still able to “shoot it just like Cupid” on “Wild Girl.” 

Shots of Crown Royal are offered upon entry, while Tate, wearing a curve-hugging pink bodysuit with black flames, is situated on the couch closest to the door, so when I enter she briefly looks up from her microphone to acknowledge my existence but not long enough to remove her from the creative spell she was in recording with her longtime engineer Zach Nicholls. Her best girlfriends are strewn across two couches and a few chairs surrounding her as she keeps a mic glued to her hand.

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Yung Baby Tate at the mic. / Maggie Shannon for ONE37pm

She repeats an “I was feeling drunk, but I’mma leave it alone” refrain on syrupy bass line spilled over an almost ghostly vocal sample before the moment she and her friends spill over each other laughing is recorded and then replayed on a loop. Her friends—co-manager Steph, makeup artist Slim Barbie and Pussy Power co-founders Taylor and Courtney—may seem unattentive as their multi-talented friend makes music during the biggest weekend of her career, but at a moment’s notice, they can give her a few affirming laughs and help her identify which song from The Dream is similar to the one she was recording. 

“My whole life is a balance of work and play. I’m talking to you right now, being serious and trying to formulate these answers. But I’m also joking in my head. That’s just my personality. I be playing but I be serious. I’m just playing...but I’m saying,” Tate told ONE37pm before filling the room with her warm laugh.

ONE37pm visited Tate in Los Angeles days before the Grammy Awards took place to document her preparation for the big night, her thoughts on the whirlwind of her first Grammys and find out how she got here.

How She Got Here

Born Tate Farris, Yung Baby Tate has been sharpening her musical talents since the third grade and attended the performing arts school DeKalb School of the Arts in Georgia. She was singing onstage for nearly a decade before anyone heard her rap.

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Yung Baby Tate getting her makeup done. / Maggie Shannon for ONE37pm

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Yung Baby Tate and her team getting ready. / Maggie Shannon for ONE37pm

Her manager, Quinn Goydish, pulled some strings to get Tate into the famous Dreamville sessions at Tree Sound Studio in January 2019 as a songwriter after she was perplexed as to why she didn’t get an invite to the lauded Dreamville sessions. At first, she was tasked with writing with Dreamville’s R&B princess Ari Lennox. The day “Don’t Hit Me Right Now” was recorded, Tate’s connection to Lennox almost cut her off from the biggest blessing of her career.

“They told us, ‘Yo, you’re here writing for Ari? Ari’s not here. So, y’all got to leave. So I basically hid in that room and didn’t leave. I was like, ‘Fuck it, I don’t have to pee. I’m going to stay my ass right here so nobody can see me,’” she says.

Her surreptitious maneuvering led to her being in the room when Bas recorded his verse for the song. Never one to keep an opinion caged behind teeth and reservations, she suggested Bas add a few lyrics to the end of his verse, to which Bas suggested she record it instead. Just like that, Tate was on her way to becoming a Grammy-nominated artist, months before she even started touring. 

“I feel like I skipped every other step you’re supposed to take before you’re Grammy-nominated,” Tate says.

Grammy Baby

Tate was skipping those steps before she was even taking them. She was born on May 13, 1996. Three months earlier, her mother, Dionne Farris, attended the 38th annual Grammy Awards with a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance nomination for her R&B hit “I Know.” With a glass of wine on its last sips seemingly siamese with her right hand, Tate recalls this fact with a smile that looks to be born from remembrance.

“I was at the Grammys 24 years ago in my mom’s womb,” Tate says. “It’s just crazy to see the full circle, except I don’t have a child in my womb. It’s full circle besides that.” Tate said before bursting into a booming laugh that envelopes the room.

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Yung Baby Tate in LA. / Maggie Shannon for ONE37pm

Three years before Tate was born, her mother won a Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 35th Grammy Awards for her singing on hip-hop group Arrested Development’s “Tennessee.” So, you can partly blame her mama for the way Tate casually steps on necks and never lets the Grammys’ bright lights blind her from working toward her future. 

“We casually had a Grammy sitting in the dining room growing up,” she says. “I would see it every day. I went to a performance arts high school, and this one time she came up to my school and talked to the students. She came up to the school with the Grammy and everybody was like, ‘Tate, oh my god. Your mom has a Grammy?’ I was like, ‘Chile, I see that thing every day.’”

Grammy Looks

Tate’s style is as unmistakable as her talent. Her diminutive stature is usually cloaked in vibrant colors and outfits that she’s said in the past border on sexy and looking like “somebody’s daughter.” Her Instagram is full of Ivy Park x Adidas unboxings, custom-made dresses and an incontrovertible affinity for all things pink. As much as the Grammys are a showcase of talent, it’s also a fashion show runway that stretches for a week. Jennifer Lopez’s green Versace dress from the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000 is still inspiring celebrities and watchmakers for more than 20 years.

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Yung Baby Tate in LA. / Maggie Shannon for ONE37pm

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Yung Baby Tate in LA. / Maggie Shannon for ONE37pm

Tate understands her star is growing, but before the Grammys, she says she was more concerned with what was happening to her butt. “When I was planning for this trip, I told you, I got a little thick. Literally, I have two pairs of pants that fit me right now because this ass is going ba donk. It is not letting any of those jeans come up or any of those pants slide past the thigh,” she says.

She enlisted help from stylist Titi La'Fleur and gave simple instructions for her look: “Pop out, stunt on hoes, foot on necks.” The night before our chat, she was decked in a pink dress with a fur coat draping her shoulder as she partied with Chance the Rapper and her Revenge of the Dreamers III collaborators at Dreamville and Since the 80s The Dreamer Social event. The next day, hours before our interview, she was serving some chic in a pink beret, and a bustier/mico-skirt combo at Instagram’s 2020 Grammys luncheon. She was invoking the B-girl spirit in her Kangol hat and Adidas athleisure wear at another event and ensconced in a shimmering pink dress fit for a ball at Dreamville’s post-Grammys party.

Not Too Yung

She won’t be the same artist she was before the Grammys. “I’m also changing my name from Yung Baby Tate to Baby Tate. I’m in a transitional phase right now,” Tate proclaimed without a hint of her usual jocularity. “I feel like I’m getting older. I’m 23 and I’ll be 24 this year. I’m not going to be young forever. But I will always be somebody’s baby.”

People misspelling the “Yung” in her name helped her decide to retire her old moniker, but she also felt the name smothers her feminity into a genderless Soundcloud rapper with bars to the public. Baby Tate won’t be rapping as much, moving more into an R&B space, in an effort to remind people of the breadth of her talents that may have been lost in her meteoric rise as a rapper.

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“I was rapping so much that my fans and people forgot that I can sing well. Not just that I can hold a note with some autotune. I can sing. I’m classically trained,” Tate said with the most temerity she exhibited all night. “This year, and moving forward, I’m trying to not abandon any of my talents or any of my gifts and blessings I was born with or trained to have.”

Before the Grammys, she linked with Masego and Bizness Boi at the Insecure writing camp in December and compared it to the Dreamville camp, with a bit more rules that inspired a samba-style collaboration between her and Masego. “Issa [Rae] had a rubric, basically. ‘These are the songs we need. These are the scenes that are going on.’ One of the descriptions’ first words were ‘lots of fucking in Mexico.’” 

Tate’s 2020 won’t include Grammy gold as ROTD III lost to Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR for Best Rap Album. Before that became a fact, Tate knew not even a Grammy loss could remove her from the Grammys. She’s here. 

“I’m going to take a shot—it’s whatever,” she said. “We’re here. That’s honestly enough for me.”

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