Yolanda Whittaker

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Yo-Yo (born Yolanda Whittaker on August 4, 1971) is a Grammy nominated American hardcore rapper known primarily among hip hop fans and music critics during the 1990s. Much of her music has advocated female empowerment, denouncing the frequent sexism found in rap music. Yo-Yo dubbed her rap crew the IBWC, which stood for the Intelligent Black Woman's Coalition.

Yo-Yo first appeared as a guest on Ice Cube's AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted album in 1990. Her critically acclaimed debut was 1991's Make Way for the Motherlode. The album's biggest single was You Can't Play With My Yo-Yo, which also featured Ice Cube.

Her follow-up, 1992's Black Pearl was well-received by critics, due in part to its focus on positive messages and uplifting themes that contrasted the popular gangsta rap style. However, this did not translate into a hit with mainstream rap audiences, and the album's sales were considered a disappointment.

Less than a year later, Yo-Yo recorded and released a more commercial follow-up, 1993's You Better Ask Somebody. The album featured musical and lyrical styles more in line with the hip-hop climate of the era, including many references to guns and smoking marijuana. In an effort to distance herself from what some in the rap community saw as preaching positivity on her previous CD, Yo-Yo even dissed herself on the track They Shit Don't Stink by rapping, "I fell off, but now I'm back, cuz that Black Pearl shit was wack"

The final track on the album was her third recorded hip-hop duet with Ice Cube, The Bonnie And Clyde Theme. The track was actually a B-side on the album's first single, IBWin' Wit My Crewin, but ultimately it was the only song from the album to achieve substantial radio airplay.

Yo-Yo's next album was 1996's Total Control. In 1998, she finished her fifth and final album, Ebony, but it was not released; as such, it remains a highly sought-after bootleg by fans.

She appeared in the 1991 film Boyz N The Hood and in the television show "Martin" alongside the cross-dressing alter ego of comedian Martin Lawrence, Sheneneh as Key Lo Lo. She also made a cameo appearance in the music video for Missy Elliott's first single, "Da Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)".

In 1994 R&B singer Trisha Covington sampled Yo-Yo's classic "You Can't Play With My Yo-Yo", and scored a Top 30 R&B hit with "Why You Wanna Play Me Out?".

In 2004, she had a voice-over role in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as Kendl Johnson.

As of 2005, Yo-Yo is an afternoon DJ for the Los Angeles, California radio station KDAY.

Yo-Yo is named after a toy, called the yo-yo, because she bounced up and down like a yo-yo when she rapped.

She was also recently featured in Brooke Valentine's song Boogie Oogie along with Fabolous.

Awards & nominations

Year Award
1995 MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best Rap Video for "I Wanna Be Down" (Remix) Feat. Brandy Norwood, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah
1996 Grammy Award nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Duo or Group for "Stomp"

External links