An impactful, cradle-to-grave reflection of self, Yaya Bey’s new EP The Things I Can’t Take With Me came together unexpectedly. Bey was set to record her next album when she found herself in the midst of a broken relationship, after which the original project changed direction.
Its title refers to her journey of self-reflection, where on the way “there’s all this shit I gotta let go of, just the things I can’t take with me,” Bey says. The record, with its smooth R&B shuffles and minimally layered instrumentation, sees an effortless transition from the introspection of heartbreak towards an auspicious confidence, confidence with which she eventually embraces her “bad bitch” self.
The Root Of A Thing examines the power that our formative years have to both shape and undo later personal relationships. With its beautifully yearning chorus we understand how hard it is to break down emotional childhood walls, in future life and love. September 13th refers to the date Bey realised that a key, yet ruinous relationship she’d invested in for years was just not to be. About the track Bey explains: “The song is stripped down and really is just about a feeling.” Capture that feeling it does, with its powerfully minimalist groove.
Softly melodic We’ll skate soon is a melancholy acceptance of the mechanics of moving on, while You up? reflects upon entanglement and the volatility of both past and future desires. On fxck it then Bey shows understated savagery to a bass accompaniment, with the line “Fuck being good, I’m a bad bitch.” Having unravelled the complexity of heartbreak, she now fiercely looks forward. fxck it then received widespread media support on its initial release, in the wake of Bey’s poignant essay on intersectionality in class status, gender and race: Why we owe the hood everything… I’ll get to that eventually
“It didn’t take me long to realize that when they said #Blackgirlmagic they weren’t talking about me.” – Yaya Bey
Final track industry love / a protection spell showcases Bey’s impeccably smooth and emotive vocals in a two-part cut; initially R&B beats which slow down to a lone guitar and the final simple assertion: “Not even you baby”.
The Things I Can’t Take With Me, with its muted vocals, minimal instrumentation and naturally effortless flow of both R&B and jazz is a poetically chronicled break-up record which, in a matter of 6 tracks, shows a depth that lengthier releases often struggle to achieve.