Yaeji and Oh Hyuk: “29”
Korean-American singer, producer, D.J. and performer Yaeji was born Kathy Lee in Queens, New York, and is currently based in Brooklyn. However, as a youngster, her family lived briefly in Atlanta, which as far as we’re concerned, gives our fair city plenty of cause for pride in having hosted (if briefly) this immensely creative and ever-evolving artist. Shortly thereafter, Yaeji’s family moved to Seoul, South Korea, where she stayed until returning to the U.S. to attend college at Carnegie Mellon.
With lyrics that fluctuate between English and Korean, she explained her approach to language and songwriting during an interview with Pitchfork in 2017: “Initially, I chose Korean because I didn’t want people to understand what I was singing about — and then I discovered that I actually really like how Korean sounds. It’s a very angular, textured sound, which is why a lot of my vocals sound whispery. I was very much focused on the phonetics of it, tied in with cadence and flow.”
Yaeji’s career plaudits include crafting a song variation on the Pac-Man theme, remixing big-name artists like Drake and Robyn and killing it at Coachella. Oh Hyuk is no slouch in the impressive credits department, either as the singer and musician who founded the popular Korean indie rock band that condenses his stage name: Hyukoh.
Baby Tate: “PEDI”
Fresh off dropping the “Yung” from her name, 25-year-old rising rap star Baby Tate, aka Tate Sequoya Farris, has released this nonstop adrenaline rush of a saucy celebration as an ode to letting our judgey demons fly free. The new single, released last month with the tagline, “I might be crazy, but at least I’m authentic,” also marks her first release since signing with Warner Brothers earlier this year.
Baby Tate was previously signed to Issa Rae’s label, Raedio, after landing on the soundtrack to Rae’s popular and critically acclaimed comedy HBO series Insecure. And she winkingly alludes to the wordplay of petty vs. pedi in the verse, “I’m pedi-er than my toes . . .”
Baby Tate grew up in Decatur and caught the bug to perform early on, apparently pulling together chairs to form a DIY stage when she was barely out of her toddler phase. As the daughter of Dionne Farris, singer for the ‘90s band Arrested Development, she joins a talented legacy. As a precocious teenager, she began mixing her own beats on Garage Band. Following a brief tenure at Georgia State University, she released her debut EP, ROYGBIV (with each track named after one of the colors on the light spectrum) – and took off from there.
Alan Jackson: “Chattahoochee”
Anyone who has ever actually gone tubing down the metro Atlanta segment of the Chattahoochee River (“Shooting the Hooch,” as it were) knows that the whole concept of water skiing standing up, much less in jeans, boots and a Lisa Frank-worthy neon-colored lifejacket, is a bit far-fetched. Yes, that muddy water may mean a great deal sentimentally, but it’s rarely more than three feet deep at any one stretch.
And yet, accuracy aside, this 1993 mega-hit for country music legend (and Newnan native) Alan Jackson — our Vintage Track of the Week — and the swagger of its accompanying ‘90s-as-heckfire video remains part of its enduring appeal.
Co-written with longtime songwriting partner Jim McBride, “Chattahoochee” has more in common with Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” than people give it credit for. Far from solely an innocent ode to young rabble-rousing in small town America, it includes some delightfully mischievous double-entendre — and we don’t just mean the repeated reference to the heat of a “hoochie-coochie” in the chorus. Let’s leave it at this: For a fun jaunt on the internet, try Googling what “burger and grape snow cone” means.
At any rate, it’s a far cry from the 19th-century poem “The Song of the Chattahoochee” by Macon-born Sidney Lanier — a work that at least McBride has indicated he was aware of when he and Jackson began working on the album A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little Bout Love). The song, which spent almost a full year at the top of the charts, won a Country Music Award for song of the year. (In another fun anecdote, Waylon Jennings apparently asked Jackson at one point, “What the hell is a ‘Chattahoochee?’”) Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017.