Reviews

Yaya Bey
Remember Your North Star

(Big Dada)

8/10

The third full-length project from Yaya Bey is an exceptional feat of storytelling, as much for the ground it covers as for the depths it shows to be lacking in commercial musical discourse. Sparked by a tweet Bey saw which read “Black women have never seen healthy love or have been loved in a healthy way”, Remember Your North Star furrows far beyond the subjects of love and Black femininity that inspired its doomscrolled beginnings. Deep into the caricatures of performance identity, family relationships and poverty trauma, it skirts the surface of competing conversations not yet given the space to evolve – what it means to be a daughter versus what it means to have a son, being broke while feeling yourself. Through these conflicts shines a manifesto of sorts, calling for self-love in a way that holds each other up.

Bey’s musical footprint covers great spans, too, while still sounding completely focused. R&B bangers such as ‘Big Daddy Ya’ (“I could do this cool shit here all day”) melt into space-jazz ruminations on ‘Alright’, opposite the ska dub undertones of ‘Meet Me In Brooklyn’ through ‘It Was Just A Dance’. Bey is broken on ‘Nobody Knows’, masking her trauma with the stony-faced line “Nobody knows my troubles but me” as defeated as it is resolute. Just as the unfiltered swagger of lead single ‘Keisha’ makes for one of the year’s best pop songs, beneath the skin of its braggadocio moments (“Show me one thing that’s been worth risking me”) is the reality of the situation that Yaya Bey is building her defences against.

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