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Members include rappers D-Roc (born D'eongelo Holmes) and Kaine (born Eric Jackson Jr.). Addresses: Record company--TVT, 23 East 4th St., New York, NY 10003. Website--Ying Yang Twins Official Website: http://www.yingyangmusic.com.
Rap duo Ying Yang Twins are often lumped into a group of southern rappers from Atlanta who personified a party or "crunk" style of rap, which hit its height in popularity in 2003 with the success of other dirty south rappers such as Lil Jon. The Ying Yang Twins' style of hip-hop music lends itself to a party atmosphere with loud, shouted choruses, and rowdy lyrics. Singers D-Roc (born D'eongelo Holmes) and Kaine (born Eric Jackson Jr.) met in East Atlanta when they were 16 years old.
D-Roc and Kaine didn't have any easy life growing up; however it was their abnormalities that bonded the pair. D-Roc's left hand didn't fully develop in his mother's womb and he was born with nubs instead of fingers on his left hand; Kaine, too was born with a birth defect--a mild case of cerebral palsy that gave him a limp. The pair quickly developed a bond after they met and began to write and perform music together. They named their group Ying Yang Twins loosely after the Chinese symbols for light and dark. "D-Roc and I have birth defects. This was the original reason we said we would be the Ying Yang Twins," Kaine told Vibe. "I got picked on growing up, and I'd be lying if I said the stuff that was said to either of us about our disabilities didn't hurt our feelings." The rappers may not have sung about their disabilities that often, but their experiences lent a hardened edge to their sound.
While D-Roc and Kaine had the foundation of their new hip-hop group in place, as Kaine told XXL Magazine, it wasn't until they hooked up with DJ Smurf (Michael "Mr. Collipark" Crooms) that they fully realized their potential, "We all had the talent, but Smurf was the only one with the vision to see where we are today." DJ Smurf would become the unofficial third member of the Ying Yang Twins, producing and co-writing tracks throughout their career.
DJ Smurf put the Ying Yang Twins first studio-recorded track, "One on One" on his 1998 album Dead Crunk. Crunk, a term used in the south, described a sort of attitude (often said to mean a combination of "crazy and "drunk), which developed into style of southern rap, and DJ Smurf thought the Ying Yang Twins would excel at. DJ Smurf encouraged D-Roc and Kaine to take a more in-your-face approach to their music and shows as he told XXL Magazine. "I kinda egged them to do whatever it took to make people notice you. Just being loud, whatever it took. Wherever we go, y'all gotta remember us for something. Eight percent of people might hate us, but a day later, we'd be the talk of wherever we were." The same year, the duo contributed the track "True City Thugs" to the So So Def Bass All-Stars Compilation, Vol. 3.
After signing with Universal records, the Ying Yang Twins released their first album, Thug Walkin', in 2000. Their debut sold over 100,000 copies with the help the catchy single "Whistle While You Twurk." The group actually received a cease-and-desist order from Disney for copping the Snow White song, but the Ying Yang Twins didn't flinch; they were becoming underground favorites in Atlanta, gaining a rowdy reputation for writing strip club anthems--and visiting them on a regular basis.
When it came time to release a new album, after the trouble with Disney, the Ying Yang Twins moved to Koch International for the release of 2002's Alley ... The Return of the Ying Yang Twins. Though Alley ... sold over 440,000 copies, the Ying Yang Twins were still an underground act. But everything changed for the Ying Yang Twins when fellow Atlanta producer/rapper Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz asked D-Roc and Kaine to appear on song to his 2002 album Kings of Crunk. The resulting track, "Get Low," with it's shout-out-loud choruses and raunchy beats, was a defining moment for the Ying Yang Twins and what would get them out of the underground and into the mainstream.
The so-called crunk movement was in full affect in mainstream radio by late 2002. Kaine was quick, however, to point out to MTV.com that they had been making records for years. "Because of the crunk movement, a lot of people think that Atlanta is just now getting on the scene. Atlanta had a big rap scene in the early' 90s," Kaine said. "People just started paying attention to it now because we came by the masses, but the third coast has never had a shot at being in this industry [until now]." Everyone wanted in on the sounds that Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins were making, including Britney Spears who used the Ying Yang Twins track "(I Got That) Boom Boom" on her 2003 record In the Zone.
With the Ying Yang Twins' new high profile, they needed a record label that understood their plan. In 2003, the group released the platinum-selling Me & My Brother on TVT Records. In an interview with The Source, DJ Smurf, explained the group's numerous record label changes; "First time I heard them in the studio, chills shot through my back. I was just like, 'Y'all got it.' We took bass music and slowed it down and continued on with what was already going on, but the labels didn't know how to promote it. I knew what we had talent-wise, but we just didn't have a chance to put it out. Record labels ain't never understood what we do. TVT is the closest thing, but still, even when we wanna switch gears, they're lost. That's why were underdogs. Ying Yang's always been creative, but labels don't get it--point blank."
Me & My Brother included the Billboard-topping single "Salt Shaker," featuring Lil Jon. The Ying Yang Twins cultivated their image from dirty south gangster songs to crunked up strip club anthems, which won them the Group of the Year award at the Source Awards in 2004.
Now that the Ying Yang Twins were one of the most popular hip-hop groups around, they wanted audiences to see that there was more to them then strippers and parties. "What you see me doing on TV, that's me at work," Kaine said in Vibe. "It ain't me personally. Surely you don't think me and my brother are that childish. We're grown-ass men. We hate the fact that people think we don't have brains." Their next single, however, may have sounded different than their others, but the message was just the same. The hit new track, "Wait (The Whisper Song)," was so hot that it leaked to the Internet, which forced the group to quickly finish their upcoming album. The track, which was intended to be album filler, was entirely whispered to a simple bass beat. The New York Times commented, "Over a sly, muted beat, the rappers unleash one hissed proposition after another. It's crude, gimmicky, unnerving and strange--which is to say, perfect."
The duo and their producer DJ Smurf rushed to deliver their new TVT album, USA (United State of Atlanta), in June of 2005. Guest vocalists Anthony Hamilton, Floetry and Maroon 5's Adam Levine and more contributed to USA's eclectic collection. "We're still giving you the tracks to make you move in the club, we we've also got something else we gotta show people," Kaine said in the official TVT biography. "We want to let people know that we don't party and go to the club all the time. We do experience pain, hurt and sorrow, and we know how to address that in songs that be jamming. The album was number one on Billboard charts a month after its release. The X-rated hit single "Wait (The Whisper Song)" was nominated for a Grammy award in 2005.
by Shannon McCarthy
Ying Yang Twins's Career
Group formed in Atlanta, GA, c. 1999; signed with Universal to release Thug Walkin', 2000; signed with Koch to release Alley ... The Return of the Ying Yang Twins, 2002; signed with TVT to release Me & My Brother, 2003, and USA (United State of Atlanta), 2005.
Ying Yang Twins's Awards
Source Awards, Group of the Year, 2004.
- Selected discography
- (Contributor) So So Def Bass All-Stars, Vol. 3 Sony, 1998.
- Thug Walkin' Universal, 2000.
- Alley ... The Return of the Ying Yang Twins Koch International, 2002.
- Me & My Brother TVT, 2003.
- USA (United State of Atlanta) TVT, 2005.
- New York Times, February 27, 2005.
- Source, May 2005.
- Vibe, July 2005.
- XXL Magazine, June 2005.
- MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com (August 21, 2005).
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