Tag Archives: YATTA

On “WAHALA,” YATTA Finds Truth


Photos by Richard R Ross

The word “wahala,” which means “trouble” in Krio and Nigerian Pidgin, is used to describe a feeling of unease, discomfort, and dissatisfaction. That’s partially why YATTA decided to make that word the title of their beautifully jarring new experimental album. “This album feels like a bloody baby just came out of me,” they say. “And I think it’s ugly and beautiful and angry and mean and sweet and real.” YATTA, aka Sierra Leonean-American multidisciplinary artist Yatta Zoker, says that they liked the expansive, exclamatory feeling of the word’s phonetics. The accompanying collection of songs lives up to the word’s promise—it’s not only an exclamation of unease, it’s also the sound of bearing witness. 

Continue reading

Album of the Day: YATTA, “WAHALA”

YATTA’s vibrant new album, WAHALA, is an immersive experience. The Brooklyn-based performance artist has crafted a fluid and personal album about their experience being trans, black, and the child of immigrants. Of the album’s tone, YATTA says: “Maya Angelou says to keep a room in your heart just for god. My room is full of rage, questions, confusion, and pain—I’m trying to get it clean and pristine, baby!” 

Clearing that room, for YATTA, means staring down all of that discomfort. In album opener “A Lie,” a voice speaks directly to the listener over a disjointed beat: “For my parents, survival was having food. For me, it’s having my feet planted on the ground and hoping no one notices when my brain flies away.” On the melancholy “Francis,” YATTA sings, “Around this part of town, you can do anything to boys that look like my brother.” On the electronic single “Cowboys,” YATTA brings in various elements—recordings, loops, synths, wails, screams, all building to a joyous laugh at the end. With WAHALA, YATTA has opened up a portal to their most intimate thoughts and has laid them bare with all the tools at their disposal, creating a sound that is one-of-a-kind.

-Diamond Sharp

Seven Steps to Perfection: A Guide Towards the Afrofuture in Music


Illustration by Max Löffler

In the ’90s, R&B and hip-hop music videos by groups like Blaque, OutKast, and Missy Elliott burst out of the hive with the vibrancy of ritual, referencing everything from atmospheric independent African diaspora films, like Daughters of the Dust to Star Trek. These videos were high fantasy—but with the ubiquitous ‘90s video sheen of exaggerated colorwash and fisheye-lens effects.

Also during the ’90s, the term Afrofuturism was coined to discuss the rising interest in surreal, fantastical, and futuristic Black literature (from the likes of Samuel Delany, Octavia E. Butler, and Charles Saunders), and its connection to other forms of Black art (music and visual art in particular) that married science fiction tropes and ideas with Black radical politics, spirituality, and lived experiences. The idea then was to project idealized forms of Blackness into the future without eschewing any of the aesthetic markings that made Black existence in a post-colonial world unique. Artists imagined urban habitation adorned with updated ritual practice, the ghetto as space station geared out in chrome, and general narratives about space travel to coincide with the ecstasy of the music: the layered, heavy beats and hazy, jazz-inspired productions that were the norm of the time. This gave way to the explorations of Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, and Janelle Monae.

Continue reading

How Raekwon’s “Purple Tape” Spawned a Label of Soul, Hip-Hop, & Expansive Noise Rock

Purple Tapes

Nineties hip-hop fans often call Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… “the purple tape,” in reference to the limited purple-colored cassette copies of the album that were released in 1995. The phrase has gone on to signify any item of unimpeachable quality; Pusha T recently boasted that his latest album Daytona, “is my purple tape.” That idea of striving for perfection also inspired the name of the Purple Tape Pedigree music blog, which has successfully morphed into the PTP record label.

Continue reading