This week, the debut LP from criminally slept-on R&B singer/songwriter Yummy Bingham is finally released...IN ENGLAND. While we'll gladly take what we can get (our currency has so already been converted), what is the DEAL, stateside record label person(s)? Put this one out over here and put Industry Rule 4,080 to rest already. After the jump, check our Gen F profile on Ms Bingham from last summer.
Yummy Bingham doesn’t sample soul
By Nick Barat
Sitting in her studio space underneath Sony’s massive 10th Avenue complex, 19 year-old Elizabeth “Yummy” Bingham fiddles with the white rubber slogan bracelet around her wrist and recounts her whirlwind career thus far. The major-label deal signed while barely into her teens. Her pre-fab pop group and their stillborn album, finished right before the group got dropped amid label restructuring. Her guest appearances, her increasingly high-profile songwriting for hire, her new record deal—all of which make for a fantastic resume and an interesting industry tale, but says nothing about her voice, that voice, one of the most unique and captivating sounds that female R&B has to offer right now.
Yummy sings like the sampled Chipmunk soul of Kanye and Just Blaze made human—which is not meant to suggest that the young Ms Bingham’s voice is in any way altered or artificial, simply that her high-pitched tone is as indelible on a track as chopped Chaka Khan sped up to 45. Just as those samples quiver in and out of the beat, inhabiting their very own territory in the musical ether, Yummy’s signature vocals set her apart from any interchangeable songstresses hoping for a hit. You could hear it back in 2001, in the melancholy “I just want this to be special, special” hook she sang for De La Soul, or on “Didn’t You Know”, the debut single from her group Tha Rayne. Producer Rich Harrison used his same drumbreak approach that would later net Beyonce platinum plaques, but it was Yummy’s yearning chorus of “Didn’t you know/ Nothing else would ever matter” that turned the track into a lost gem.
Yummy’s self-written solo LP First Seed develops her distinctive sound even further. As the debut artist on Rockwilder’s Muzic Parc imprint, she was free to pick and choose from a top-shelf selection of beats—but she wrote the bulk of the album on the same couch where we talked, in a tiny room filled with little more than a keyboard, a computer, one turntable and a milkcrate of old records in the corner. Teaser single “Come Get It” is extremely catchy, but b-side “Queens” is a revelation; over elegiac horns and a slow rolling drumline, Yummy pens a winding, unexpected melody as tribute to a rough childhood. “South Jamaica, can’t find no place greater…ain’t nothing pretty, but I find so much beauty in my streets,” she sings. Emotion lies thick underneath the layers of aching vocals; even after writing gigs with everyone from Amerie to Diddy under her belt, tracks like “Queens” showcase a deeply personal approach those hits for hire could never fulfill. “I’m passionate when I write my songs” she explains. “But when I’m done, and I really really like it, it’s like I’m giving a piece of me away. And I don’t want to give that away to everybody.” Now, Yummy can finally give back to herself.