"Yayo" is a song written by Lana Del Rey. The first known recording of the track was on No Kung Fu, and was later re-recorded in 2008 for her first EP, Kill Kill. The same version of the track found on Kill Kill was re-released on her first album, Lana Del Ray. The final re-release of the track appears as track number seven on her third EP, and second major-label release, Paradise.
Background and writing
"Yayo" was first officially released on October 21, 2008, on Del Rey's first studio EP and commercial release, Kill Kill, when Del Rey still used the stage name Lizzy Grant. It was again released commercially on January 4, 2010, as part of Del Rey's first studio album, Lana Del Ray, under the name Lana Del Ray. Both of these releases have since been taken down from all music services. David Kahne said on his website of the song: "Noir trailer park escape to bright futures, on a stranger's motorcycle... I had Lizzy/Lana play the guitar on this because she has such a unique and simple approach to how she plays, on only two strings at a time. It's very distinctive. She didn't like to play guitar because it messed up her nails."
On December 23, 2011, Del Rey posted the Lana Del Ray version of "Yayo" on her YouTube channel. The final and most well-known version of "Yayo" was officially released on November 9, 2012, as part of Del Rey's third studio EP, Paradise. It is the only song from Del Rey's first studio album Lana Del Ray that has been officially re-recorded and re-released.
In 2016, Del Rey stated various times that "Yayo" is about someone who was a very good friend of hers years ago while she was living in New Jersey.
On January 19, 2018, while performing at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on her LA to the Moon Tour, Del Rey explained more about the background of the song. She stated that the friend whom the song was written about was named Rob, a friend who she had gotten to know through her other friend Mikey Martin, a drummer for the band Shiny Toy Guns.
During the early days of her career, Del Rey performed the song live a total of ten known times from 2007–2009. The first known performance of "Yayo" was on June 14, 2007, at Union Pool in New York City. Footage is available online for her performances at Union Pool, The Cutting Room, Mercury Lounge, The Living Room, Canal Room, and The Slipper Room.
In 2016, Del Rey performed "Yayo" for the first known time since 2009 at the TW Classic Festival on July 9, as part of her Festival Tour. Del Rey continued to perform the song acoustically on guitar for the remaining dates of the Festival Tour. In 2017, Del Rey performed the song at the South by Southwest festival on March 19 and in 2018, the song was performed at the Boston, Massachusetts show of the LA to the Moon Tour on January 13, among various other dates.
Footage of her performance at Arlene's Grocery exists and was uploaded online. However, it has not yet resurfaced.
|Director||Lana Del Rey|
Background and description
As with many of the other Lana Del Ray songs, Del Rey created a homemade music video for the song in 2008. It featured clips of Del Rey herself and clips she gathered from miscellaneous films and videos, the usual style of her old music videos.
- The phrase "yayo" also appears in "Florida Kilos" and "Breaking My Heart".
- "Yayo" is a street name for cocaine. Drugs are a common topic in Del Rey's songs.
- References to trailer parks are also found in "Backfire" and "Dangerous Girl", amongst many other songs.
- Someone on a black motorcycle is talked about in "Strangelove".
- Del Rey also sings about "putting on a show" for her lover in "Take Me to Paris".
A different version of "Yayo" was included on each respective project it was included on: No Kung Fu, Lana Del Ray, and Paradise. An acoustic demo of the song leaked on a different occasion. On June 13, 2016, four snippets of Del Rey performing the song live with the band The Rich Whores leaked through Instagram. The full live rehearsal from 2007 leaked on March 5, 2020. The official studio a cappella of the Paradise version leaked on August 28, 2018. The official instrumental of the Paradise version leaked on February 5, 2021.
- Paradise version — 5:21
- A cappella — 5:16
- Instrumental — 5:16
- Lana Del Ray/Kill Kill version — 5:45
- No Kung Fu demo — 4:18
- Laptop demo — 5:10
- The Rich Whores rehearsal — 4:37
Lana Del Ray/Kill Kill version
No Kung Fu demo
The Rich Whores rehearsal
Credits (Paradise version)
- Lana Del Rey — vocals, songwriting
- Dan Heath — production, strings, keys
- Emile Haynie — production, drums, additional keys
- Graham Archer — vocal engineering
- Jeremy Cochise Ball — mixing
- John Davis — mastering
- Mastered at Metropolis Mastering, London
- Recorded at Sarm Studios, London, United Kingdom
- Mixed at The Bridget Studio, Buffalo, New York, United States
- Published by EMI
Charts (Paradise version)