YAA YAA “Hey Yo”
Ascending towards the heavens from the silence of an open plain, Yaa Yaa’s “Hey Yo” humbly opens with a beat that is equally pastoral and elegant, casually inviting us into the heart of its songwriter for a closer look at humanity itself. A guitar, a whistling melody beside it, the gently drumming; each a character in the story that is unfolding before us. They dance and sway together, circling a kindling that suddenly explodes into a colorful blaze when Yaa Yaa begins to sing. The kaleidoscopic harmony created between her voice and the instruments working in tandem is striking, albeit somewhat intimidating, but we’re nevertheless drawn closer with every verse.
Yaa Yaa tells us that she’s got a lot to say, that her words are long overdue and she’s not willing to compromise when it comes to having her voice heard. She powerfully pushes the needle directing the band in whatever direction she pleases, masterfully commanding the melody with the skill of a seasoned conductor rather than that of a young artist releasing her sophomore single. Her lyrics are the antithesis of superficiality, and though her voice is as melodic and soft as tall summer grass, there’s a serious, unforgivingly focused tone to her delivery that demands our attention from the start of “Hey Yo” all the way to its completion.
Singing of the wickedness of corruption and the selfishness of the powers that be, her tender vocals add an emotional charge to lyrics that are relevant not only to her native Ghana but abroad to every corner of our world, where people have concerned themselves more with warring with each other rather than finding love and compassion one another. What’s more, her message isn’t a self-righteous one, but conveyed from an equilibrium with all of mankind. With all of the callousness in pop music today, her sincerity is refreshing and sorely needed in the general parlance of our times.
Through two choruses, our attention is divided equally between Yaa Yaa and her immaculately produced backing band, before the track shifts into a higher gear and takes on a solid hip-hop beat. The contrast doesn’t inhibit the transition, which is carefully primed by the anticipation created in the churning arrangement that started the song off. I’m fascinated by the nimble flexibility that Yaa Yaa has for being as young a performer as she is. She has a very identifiable confidence in the studio that can’t be taught, and it’s that very confidence that could ensure her success in this business for decades to come.
“Hey Yo” is a call to action directed at a world that is often too passive and willing to accept the evils and cruelty of the greedy, but it’s also a magnificent contribution to the world music songbook of the new millennium. I’ve only just become introduced to Yaa Yaa’s music, but with as memorable and haunting an imprint that she leaves in what is only her second official single, there’s no question I’ll be following her as her career develops further. The international stage has been perfectly set for an artist of her unique capabilities, and her rise to stardom seems imminent.