Baby Tate is confident and quirky – balancing humility with a healthy ego. Sporting a funky neon green hairdo and eclectic wardrobe, Tate Farris enters the room, and her confident persona is that of a talented force, aware of the star power she has to share with the world.
“Music is one of the largest energy transformations and one of the largest ways to communicate feelings with each other,” she explains. “Music is LIFE for me. And I grew up loving music. Music chose me because honestly, there’s nothing else that I could see myself doing.”
Farris’ early exposure to the art came thanks to the strong women in her life. She credits her first encounter to her mother, Grammy-nominated songwriter Dionne Farris. Then, thanks to her devoted Christian grandmother, she was singing in church choirs. Her Aunt Karen was responsible for exposing her to soul and house music – the singer recalls Al Green always playing at the loudest levels in her aunt’s home. And lastly, her late cousin, Taylor, who was her biggest cheerleader.
Raised by a single mother, Farris pulled her independence from her in-house idol, who juggled full-time motherhood with a booming musical career of her own. “I definitely had a lot of influence from my mother, watching her do her own thing; be independent with her career, being her own manager, and still raise me as a single mother. Watching her do it, I thought I could do this as well.”
Taylor was like a sister to Farris, only six months younger than her, and was one of her earliest supporters. “I was the quiet cousin; she was the loud and bubbly one and was the one who really pushed me.” So sure of her cousin’s talents, Taylor would corral an audience of childhood friends, forcing the young artist to give impromptu performances. Her close relationship with Taylor was influential in molding “Baby Tate” into the confident artist we know today. After her cousin’s passing in 2017, Farris walks with the mantra her kin consistently enforced: “God gave you a gift, and if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.”
After spending her childhood summers in New Jersey visiting her family, the Decatur native returned to Georgia as a dedicated student at the Dekalb School of Arts, casually referred to as DSA by the young artist. Enrolled there from third grade through high school, Farris’ course load included intense musical and theatrical training, coupled with a high standard of academic excellence and rigor across all other standard subjects. During her time, she explored classical music, experimented with sound independently, and sharpened her songwriting and production skills.
Farris started playing around on GarageBand at 13. She began putting loops together from the comfort of home using her mom’s computer. Before she could share her creations, she came home one day to a wiped hard drive as a result of a technical mishap, but an act she’s chalking up to divine intervention. Only then, at 14, did she feel forced to make beats of her own, crafting sounds from scratch, and leaning into her composition training from school. This defining act would change the course of Farris’ career, allowing her full creative control and production over her future projects. Shortly after, the young teen would begin recording lyrics over the beats by tilting the computer up, leveraging a vantage point for higher sound quality from the embedded mic found on Mac desktops. “It started off janky,” she laughs, “but I was expressing myself and was having fun with it.”
Carving out a name for herself in the music industry did not come without its fair share of hurdles. Born into a musical family, the assumption that Tate’s success and recognition would be handed to her on a silver platter without hard work is a nepotism theory the hungry artist is happy to dispel.
Her biggest obstacle was getting permission from her mother to post her songs online. Her mom stood firm in her conviction to protect her daughter’s childhood by not allowing her to share any music publicly until she was an adult. Of course, this delay infuriated the young artist, who was eager to get her name out there. For the next few years she obeyed reluctantly and continued to perform in school shows, building a healthy arsenal of unreleased projects. However, once she moved out and enrolled in college, she released her first project, ROYGBIV, on Soundcloud. “I’m going to do this [music] and start doing shows and stuff,” she recalls her conversation with her mom before hitting ‘publish.’
Reflecting on this delay, she’s grateful for the opportunity to have had a childhood not muddied by a career and the politics of the industry. Instead, she got the chance to focus on being a kid and its accompanying growing pains. Additionally, she adds, the independence and confidence in her craft cultivated during her early years as an unpublished musician validated her life’s purpose of wanting to be an artist. “I don’t think I was ever in the shadow of my mom. Musically, our music is completely different,” she says. “As I get older, I see more of her in myself, and so I also see more of her in my music.”
The now 26-year-old singer inevitably dropped out of college, due to losing her Hope scholarship that covered most her tuition due to truancy. “I wasn’t going to class and ended up failing a couple because I wasn’t there to get the grades,” she says. “And at that time, I was like, ‘dang, well I’m not about to pay for this.’” She pauses and laughs, adding, “…but I will pay for my microphone, which costs a bit less. And i just decided to take all of my energy and put it into music.”
Drawing from her Atlanta community, both in support and inspiration, Baby Tate’s musical catalog touches influences from Gucci Mane and Ciara, to Ludacris – her fellow statesmen, she credits. “I can do anything that I want to do,” she says, “I can do hip-hop, r&b, soul music, and pop. I think that for me is the biggest takeaway from the amazing artists that are from Atlanta.” In addition, her nuclear community would also be her earliest cheerleaders at the start. While a recent drop out, and homeless, Farris spent nights living rent-free with friends, often for extended periods of time, with some even chipping in to pay for studio time.
“My sound is empowering,” she boasts, and Baby Tate is no novice when it comes to creativity. One of her earliest projects, Words with Tate, had song titles that ended in -tate, playing on her name. “I’ve always been very into conceptual projects and was getting creative.” Her 2015 debut EP, ROYBGIV explored feelings through color, each track dedicated to a hue of the rainbow. Since then, Farris self-released five additional EPs: XMAS (2016), Cuddy Buddy (2016), Boys (2018), Summer Lover (2018) and After the Rain (2020), and one studio album, Girls (2019), which grew her popularity.
When Baby Tate formally stepped into the music scene, she went by Yung Baby Tate. The decision to simplify to Baby Tate in 2021 represents her growing maturity. Wanting to keep the baby aspect as an homage to her everlasting youthful spirit (and face), she dropped yung. “I was getting a bit older and more mature… I’m pushing 30,” she jokes. “Baby Tate is just such a beautiful encapsulation of my energy, of who I am.”
With the name change, so came the evolution of her sound. While still staying true to her light and fun energy, fans explore her world of pop, r&b, and rap, but with higher production quality, she says. As an emerging artist, who couch surfed and performed for pennies, Baby Tate produced all her songs exclusively, sparing money for studio time. She proudly boasts that she only started outsourcing beats after dropping her sixth EP, After the Rain, in 2020, five years after her debut. And while focusing on her songwriting presently, she has plans to return to exclusively producing her projects in the future.
Her DIY work ethic, coupled with self-taught skills, propelled her amongst her peers as a sought-after producer and songwriter. Two notable things would come from her penmanship: a record deal and a Grammy nomination.
Before signing with a major record label in 2021, Baby Tate was under Issa Rae’s label, Raedio, a signing she earned after outshining fellow attendees in a songwriters camp hosted by the actress. The partnership allowed the rising star the opportunity to continue to build her brand, surrounded by resourceful mentors and fellow people of color, preparing her for her major record deal with Warner Records.
As for the latter, the artist admits to having imposter syndrome, humbly bragging about her Grammy nomination for her contribution to Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III. The collaboration, she recalls, was born from pride and stubbornness. When word was circulating that J.Cole and his labelmates were hosting their writers camp for the project, she remembers joking with her manager about being offended by the missed invitation. She was in the studio with the team a few phone calls later, amongst 300+ writers and producers invited.
“I walked in, in my writer bag, and I wasn’t expecting anything other than to write,” she recounts. But then Bas, Dreamville’s inaugural signee, performed his verse, and after making a vocal suggestion, she found herself singing on, “Don’t Hit Me Right Now,” also featuring Cozz, Guapdad 4000 and Buddy. To much surprise, of the 142 songs recorded over 10 days, the song made it onto the 18-track compilation project. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and was awarded a nomination at the 62nd Grammy Awards for ‘Best Rap Album.’
Outside of music, Farris also uses fashion as a way to express herself. “I’m a very girly girl, very quirky. I hate to look like anybody else.” Finding inspiration in risk-taking, and pulling looks from anime aesthetics, how she dresses is an extension of her personality.
Growing up, Tate is open about her struggle gaining weight as an adolescent – praying every night for an ass, she jokes. “…and it’s finally here, but the ass also comes with some thighs, and it also comes with a little stomach, and I have no problem with that.” In late 2021, the outspoken advocate of body acceptance generated media buzz by speaking up against internet bullies criticizing women’s bodies. “Body positivity is not a word or message that I like to use. Instead, I like to say body acceptance because everyone has their own opinion, and you absolutely do not have to be positive about my body, but what you do have to do is accept that this is my body, and this is what it looks like, and that’s that.”
Armed with a spellbinding love for making music, embracing her authentic self, and lighthearted youthful spirit, Tate is excited about what the future has in store for her. After recently wrapping up a gig as one of the supporting acts on Charli XCX’s US tour, Farris has been working on perfecting her latest project, Mani/Pedi, set to release this fall. The two-sided EP represents self-duality and is a cross intersection of light versus dark that exists in our everyday lives, she explains. The first side, Mani, will showcase her r&b side, exploring honesty, love, truth, and manifestation, while Pedi represents ego through rap. “I have a song for every mood; you just have to press play.”