Record & Tape Exchange is a recurring series where some of our favourite artists walk us through their personal music libraries to share the songs that have soundtracked their lives. 

Just as Yaya Bey’s sound is one in constant evolution, her selections for our Record & Tape Exchange chart her divergent sources of inspiration and influence. Taking in the Motown and ’90s hip-hop that was on rotation in the family home, her hometown of New York City and her Bajan heritage, her playlist is one with family and feeling at its core. Yaya’s new single “chasing the bus” is out now, providing the first glimpse of her forthcoming full-length LP Ten Fold.

 

 

What song reminds you the most of your childhood?
Wow, that’s intense! I couldn’t put it on one song, I grew up in a really musical house; I’m a second generation musician. There was a lot of Donny Hathaway, a lot of Patrice Rushen, the Ohio Players. A lot of Jay-Z - it goes on and on… Not only did I grow up in a musical house, I grew up with young black parents who were Gen X, so obviously we’re talking everything that is golden era 90’s hip-hop and R&B. But at the same time, they grew up in the height of Motown, they grew up with disco. This was also when the Clark Sisters were in the height of their career and influencing all of R&B. So, it’s too hard to pick just one!

What was the first physical record you remember buying?
I had Usher’s "U Remind Me" on cassette - I was a kid, and someone bought it for me at my request. And then I had Lil Bow Wow’s first album, I had that on CD. Ah, I’m trippin’! I also had Brandy’s Never Say Never, before Bow Wow. 

What song reminds you the most of home?
I’m from New York, so it would probably have to be a Nas record. Maybe “If I Ruled the World”.

 

What song reminds you of traveling to a specific place? 

My family are from Barbados, and every time I think about Barbados I think of this Alison Hinds song called Faluma

What is the best song to play at a house party? 

It depends on the type of house party! If it’s like a dinner party, there’s a song by The Gap Band called “I’m in Love”. If it’s a cookout, Frankie Beverly and Maze, “Before I Let Go”. If it’s just like, we in here turnt, I feel like that Sexyy Red song, that “Skee-Yee”, that’s going to turn that shit out.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I don’t really know if I want a funeral, to be honest. My dad passed away last year, and his funeral was in a church so we only got to pick one song that was some shit that made sense to him. We played this song by Keni Burke, “Rising to the Top”. So, I don’t think I would have a funeral, but I feel like that’s a good funeral song.

You're abducted by aliens and when you wake up on the spaceship, they pass you the aux. What is the song that you're playing to convince them not to destroy Earth?

I’m a big Frankie Beverley and Maze fan, so it’s going to one from them. They have this one song “We Are One” which would work, but there’s another song “Happy Feeling”. OK, it’ll be either one of them.

 

Further Reading:
Ahead of his new album, the Grime OG talks us through some of the garage, jungle, and 140 bpm that holds significance in his life.