Zyah Belle’s musical roots can be traced back to her home church in Vallejo, where her mother still directs the choir and sings. The multi-talented Bay Area artist spent long afternoons at musical theater rehearsal and vocal ensemble, and began forging her own path as a solo recording artist in the Sacramento Valley as a teenager. Zyah’s story is one of radical self-advocacy and understanding, sentiments that radiate from her new singles “DND” and “NOT THE ONE” featuring Tempest.
“I’ve gotten better as an artist as I’ve become more comfortable in myself. Really that’s when people started fucking with me, when I started fucking with myself,” Zyah told Noisey. “Any time I authentically show up as myself, I’m directly going to relate to somebody.” Her artistic orbit has taken shape in a profoundly honest way. Her 2021 album Who's Listening Anyway? shared the soft and earthly journey of a vulnerable artist: “The intention behind that title definitely speaks to where I was, in that question mark,” she said. In the singles from her upcoming album, Yam Grier, Zyah has emerged from that curious and longing place, strutting with prowess into a confident, mature, and ambitious new chapter of her career. “I’ve definitely grown to stand in who I am, from then to now.”
Yam Grier is slated for release later this year, and its second single “NOT THE ONE” featuring Tempest is packed playfully with electric lyrics, like Tempest’s (“I said what I said / You better run when you see me coming / Off with their heads / I'm coming for ankles, I'm coming for necks!”) Zyah’s new music video for “NOT THE ONE” is a strong and spellbinding glimpse into the fearlessness of the album to come.
Reflecting on “NOT THE ONE,” Zyah said, “This song came from the purest energy that day. The music felt really encouraging, it felt really ‘bad bitch,’ and we were like, OK, we have to talk our shit on here.” The music video is inspired by the drip of sideshow Bay Area nightlife and the dramatic feminine hustle of Spike Lee’s film Girl 6. “The underlying storyline is of these two boss women who run this company,” Zyah said, referencing the company’s slogan recited through the video: “We’re here for money, not emotions.”
Zyah brought in trusted collaborators for “NOT THE ONE,” sharing the studio with artists she knew would match the level of power and poise that the song demands. “Tempest and I have the most explosive energy together. Alex Vaughn also did this operatic part, and it was just so dramatic. The song is DRAMA.” “NOT THE ONE” has a rebellious, punk essence that is encapsulated magnetically in the album artwork, designed by Shiniyah Evans.
Zyah Belle has a refreshingly calm and flexible approach to the business of music, even as a savvy social creator and a digital marketing wiz. “The algorithm is some bullshit. It’s all an illusion. This all leads back to capitalism,” Zyah joked, but she made a profoundly relevant observation. “The biggest thing we’re fighting is being able to tell our stories,” she said, confronting the ever-present pressures of existing as a woman in entertainment. “It’s not encouraging to grow and age as a woman in most industries, but it’s important to know that time doesn’t limit you. You have all the time in the world.”
Yam Grier is set to release later this year, and the album is an ode to thick thighs and a declaration of courage and affirmation for this moment in Zyah Belle’s journey. “Yam Grier really feels representative of my essence and this revolution I started working myself through,” she said. “This album will share the story of my life over the past five years, as someone who is just exploring, in love and in life—a more affirmed and recognized woman, who has gone through her own evolution and who is courageously human and herself at all times.”
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