Yummy Bingham: Through The Fire

After she released the solid Rockwilder-produced buzz record “Come Get It” in 2005 with Jadakiss, emerging singer/songwriter Yummy Bingham is setting out to make an even bigger impression this year. The Jamaica Queens, New York native is the daughter of producer Osborne “Dinky” Bingham Jr., and the God-daughter of both Chaka Khan and Aaron Hall.

Even with such strong musical roots, Yummy’s family still went through some major struggles as she was growing up. Perhaps it was those hard times that helped to develop her songwriting abilities. To date, she has written for and collaborated with many artists including Amerie, Christina Aguilera, Christina Milian, Kelly Rowland, Beyonce, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Snoop and YoYo.

When she was in junior high school, she was a part of the girl group The Rayne, which was put together by Naughty By Nature’s producer Kay Gee. By the age of 19, Yummy secured her own deal on Universal Records, and she’s pressing forward with her debut album The First Seed. She worked with super-producer Rockwilder on her new single “Is It Good To You,” and Rockwilder also produced the majority of the album.

Yummy spoke with us recently about her troubled past, her amazing influences, and how her musically-inclined family helped her become the artist she is today.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You have a lot going on in your life right now. You just celebrated your 20th birthday, you have hot single going for radio, you have a couple of hot tracks burning up mixtapes right now, and you have a new album coming out. How do you feel right now? Is it starting to feel a little overwhelming?

Yummy Bingham: I feel honored and privileged to be in the position that I am in right now.

AHHA: How did you celebrate that 20th birthday?

Yummy: Oh wow! Let me see how I should explain that without getting too graphic. I went to Lotus [in New York] with my best friends. We all had a good time! Everybody had a good time. Sylvia Rhone [President of Motown/Executive VP of Universal Records] took me to a couple of lunches. I spent it with friends and family. It was great.

AHHA: Your name is Elizabeth “Yummy” Bingham. Where did Yummy come from?

Yummy: You know what, De La did that to me. De La Soul put me on their credits as Elizabeth “Yummy” Bingham. Everybody really thought Yummy was my middle name. Yummy has been my nickname ever since I was a couple of days old – my grandfather gave me that name. It was Yum Yum for the longest, and I narrowed it down to Yummy when I got 12 and I thought I was grown.

AHHA: Your father is noted producer, Osborne “Dinky” Bingham and you’re the God child of both R&B legends Chaka Khan and Aaron Hall. How was it growing up within the music industry?

Yummy: Before I started to take my music career seriously and just as an individual, being around my dad, Aaron, and Chaka prepared me to fulfill the position I wanted to fulfill in the industry. Chaka, being the closest female to me in the industry that I inspired to be in, would always keep me grounded by giving me the best advice. She brought out the female essence in me. As far as Aaron is concerned, Aaron has always taught me strength. I am a very emotional person, and he taught me not show any weakness. They all helped make me the performer and songwriter I could be, not just in R&B, but in any style of music. I would constantly get drilled, and was made to rehearse to build onto the image of the artist that I am today.

AHHA: Did any of them have an influence on your own style of music?

Yummy: All of them did. My dad mainly, because he put me on to not just Aaron and not just Chaka, but music as a whole, from the production standpoint to the songwriter standpoint, and to the performers.

AHHA: I read that you had somewhat of a rough childhood. At the age of 10 you were taken away from your mother due to allegations of abuse? How big of an impact did that have upon your music career?

Yummy: Because of the living conditions I was under with my mom, it caused me to become an impulsive type person. I held a lot of my anger, frustration, and pain internally and didn’t mask it all on the outside. So when I became a songwriter and when I became an artist, I swore that I was going to express my emotions to the fullest and I wasn’t going to hinder anything. I was feeling like this only because I had done it for so long as a kid and it took a toll on me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It made me really depressed.

I decided to do music and if I was going to do music, I was going to be happy in it. That meant writing the song that I wanted to write, and singing the way I wanted to sing and being the artist that I thought I should be. That had a great influence on me. It also helped with how I take to people with my aggression and my temper and my “hood mentality.” I just put a lot of it in my music, because it’s been a huge part of my life. I just try to do it the most tasteful way now.

AHHA: You used to be a part of the group Tha Ranye. What happen to the group?

Yummy: Well, we decided probably back in January of 2004, when I turned 18 and graduated from high school early – when I thought we were going to go on tour and put this album out – we would part ways. We were informed that Arista was folding – but not through Arista, through our fan website. Yes, welcome to the music industry! We felt that through everything we had gone through, with management and creatively how we felt on our own and as a whole; we felt that we shouldn’t continue with the group. We were all still growing up and we still had to find out we wanted in this industry.

AHHA: In September of 2004, you were signed to Cash Money Records/Universal? How was that experience and what happened?

Yummy: That was a very brief experience. I really didn’t get to know anyone on the staff. We did our album independently; Rockwilder, my manager, and myself. We pretty much did all the work and they were down with cutting the checks but…checks bounced. So, when the checks bounced, we had to go. It was a fortunate situation because we didn’t have to look for another label. We had so many offers afterwards. It was a bidding war. The reason why we decided to make Motown our home is because of the sincerity we were introduced to with Sylvia Rhone. They weren’t just about the dollar and the budget. It wasn’t about money at all. They thought I had great music and they couldn’t believe we had done this on our own. They told us they were about pushing it because they believed in it.

AHHA: How would you describe your style of music?

Yummy: Well, my style of music is pretty much based off my influences. Hip-Hop is number one, gospel, and R&B. They are always going to be a part of me. I think I have a funky, Hip-Hop and soulful edge. I try to display my old school influence from James Brown, Tina Turner, Aretha, and Chaka Khan, even the Gap Band. I try to show my funky edge through them with my production. Vocally, I try to display the beauty that I have been influenced by when it comes to Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Donny Hathaway, and Diana [Ross]. I try to display my lyrical ability through Hip-Hop which is Biggie, Pac, Salt n Pepa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, and Snoop. I just try to display all of my influences.

AHHA: Who would you compare yourself to musically within the industry?

Yummy: I only compare myself to my influences. People might compare me to Faith Evans, who I love dearly and have had the privilege to work with. They also compare me to Mary J. Blige, who I also had the privilege to work with. Some people also compare me to Beyonce and her style of singing, who I totally love and still work with right now. So those three ladies are three strong names that I have no problem being compared to.

AHHA: What do you hope to achieve within the music industry?

Yummy: I want to achieve the balance between music being just as important as the business. From what I have seen from my past record deals and other recording artists’ situations, it’s so much more about the business than it is the music any day, and that takes away from the creative evolution that artists need to go through because they are so drawn into the politics. They are so overwhelmed by an image and it’s not about an image. It’s about the music and the proper business to push it. You need a great setup on your own when you are a recording artist as far as management, lawyers, accountants, just as much as you need your writers, producers, and choreographers. I want to give up that balance between music and business.

AHHA: The single “Come Get It” features Jadakiss. How was it working with him on that collaboration?

Yummy: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to be in the studio with Jada when he recorded his verse. That was done after I gave the record label my whole list of rapper options and them ex-ing it out and saying this was what we had to roll with. So when it fell to down to Jada getting on the record, it was really all about business. But when we met at the video shoot, I let him know how I found out he was getting on the record and he totally respected it. He was like, “Well, that’s the business ma.” I am just happy that he did me some justice because that’s all I really wanted. I wanted good lyrics, street credibility, and somebody who was just not worried about doing their job but doing them as well, and he gave me Jada and that’s what I wanted.

AHHA: Who are some artists that you are looking forward to working with in the future?

Yummy: Anyone that’s down with working with me. I am going to be working with Ne-Yo soon. We are going on tour. I am really looking forward to working with him. We are going to try to experience some new things together in music.

AHHA: Rockwilder is a super producer noted for his work with artists such as Redman, Missy Elliot, and Janet Jackson. He produced most of your album. How is your working relationship?

Yummy: Our relationship is beautiful. The chemistry is always there and that is very important. He is like my big brother. He is extremely talented.

AHHA: You are also a partner in Muzic Parc Records. Tell us about that.

Yummy: Muzic Parc is Rockwilder, my manager Randy and myself. We are trying to give off a good balance between music and business. It would be difficult to do that if I was not an artist, but it benefits me being an artist.

AHHA: Now, you use to be the drummer for your church. You stated several times that you didn’t even sing when you were growing up. When did you get serious about your singing career?

Yummy: I had to learn how to play the drums because my church was not the richest church. We couldn’t afford to pay the paid drummer. I was the youngest, knock-kneed drummer you would ever meet because I had to keep my legs tight so no one could see under my dress. I got serious about singing around age 12 when everyone stopped trying to make me sing. My family automatically expected me to do music, but I do not like for people to try to make me do anything. I was also shy. I did not like being the only one in the limelight. When I moved with my grandparents, I realized I really wanted to do music. I was getting into so much trouble because of the pain I had. Music is what God gave me, and I needed to use it.

AHHA: Which do you love the most, singing, dancing, or writing?

Yummy: I like to write. Even when I am not writing songs, I am writing stories, poems, and monologues. I have a love for the language arts.

AHHA: Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Yummy: Anything that anyone wants to know about me from age 12 to now is on [yummybingham.com]. Musicparc@aol.com is where I can be emailed by my fans. Even though I do not always respond, I do check the email. Please call and request my first, single “Is It Good to You.” I wrote the song, and it is produced by Rockwilder and I love it. I hope you all will too.

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