There probably isn’t a hip-hop fan among us who hasn’t heard the animalistic roars, seductive whispers, and bubbling rhymes of the Ying and the Yang. From “Get Low” to “Salt Shaker” to “Halftime,” the Atlanta-bred Twins have been making booties shake from New York City to Timbuktu, for the greater half of the last decade. But, alas, times do change, and for the Ying Yang Twins, that change means a switch to Epic Records, as well as a startling evolution of their music. Plugging their new single entitled “Fist Pump”, featuring Greg Tecoz, D-Roc and Kaine claim to be no longer repping hip-hop, at least exclusively. Read more in our exclusive interview with the Twins.
How was “Fist Pump” conceived, guys?
D-Roc: It was real simple actually. We’ve been doing a lot of traveling, overseas and right here at home. Everybody is on the party vibe now. When you see all the shows and everything, everyone’s always fist pumping and jumping. So I said, “Alright, let’s make it a song.” We sat down with Ike Dirty, and Ike Dirty came up with the beat.
Kaine: It took about ten minutes of Ying Yang time to put that song together. For real.
Is Ying Yang time different from regular time?
Kaine: [laughs] You know we move at 300,000 miles per hour, light-speed. The distance we travel is no distance any man has ever traveled.
Will the forthcoming album be in the same vein as “Fist Pump”?
Kaine: We not just going to do that. We’re going to give the die-hard fans what they want, as well as grab new fans. You got to stay with the times. That’s why we did “Fist Pump”. We had to do the now.
D-Roc: As is with any good artist, there comes a time when you want to reinvent yourself, and at least take it to the next level. We still going to be that Ying Yang. It still got that Ying Yang energy on it. We just decided to keep it all clean because of the caliber of the song [“Fist Pump”]. Instead of getting all nasty, we went, “Fist pump, jump, jump.” That’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to get all nasty. But we still got those Ying Yang joints coming.
Kaine: We know everybody wants the club, the wild, raunchy, aggressive us, and we’re not going to walk away from that. But we also have to walk into the now, whatever the present is to the future.
What about fans who would argue it’s not hip-hop?
Kaine: We never were hip-hop. We are based in Atlanta —
D-Roc: One thing about that song [“Fist Pump”], that’s a pop song all the way around. That’s pop to death. There ain’t no urban bone in that one. Pop is not hip-hop. I see that on Kidz Bop.
Kaine: We ain’t trying to go in no box, no matter what people say. We’re not a boxed-in group. So as far as other people caring about our music, we’ve been having to deal with people either loving or hating us for the duration of our career. There’s never been an in-between. So we can’t be concerned about all that. We’ve just got to be concerned with our creative side, and giving the people who want us, and love us, what they think we should give them. That’s the best we can do.
You said you guys were traveling around a lot, both in and out of the country. What have you learned through your travels?
Kaine: That music will last forever. The way people react when they see us, I still don’t think a lot of artists get the response out of the crowd that the Ying Yang Twins get. There’s a lot of new artists who do their thing, but just on the raw energy vibe, people know us for that vibe, so when they see us they always expect to have a nice time.
Do you see your fan-base changing?
Kaine: Yeah, every ten years the fan-base changes. The ten year olds from your first time out, in ten years, they become the 20 year olds. So now you’ve got to go back to the other ten year olds. It’s all about staying with the youth. That’s the name of the game. You get in the game to get in the game. If you want to stay in the game you’ve got to keep playing. You’ve got to keep the youth in yourself while living. I think that has a lot to do with the way we make music. Kids know about us through the people who were listening to our music before. But they still don’t know us per se. You’ve always got to pick up the next new batch when you come out. If not, you’re not going to stay relevant.
D-Roc: They know about us, we in there. But right now they want something new.
Kaine: They feel we got too old in the face. So now we’ve got to smooth it out again.
Why do you think kids like this dance vibe?
Kaine: Kids like the dance vibe because it exerts a feeling of high-energy fun. It ain’t about nothing but enjoyment. So what was once party music with us, when we were doing our thing real hard, is now just enjoyment music.
D-Roc: The kids are dancing like a muthafucker. They be doing more dancing than anyone. They’re making up a new dance every week. That’s their whole thing, “I’m going to out-dance you.” It’s really back to the old ways, before our time, when everybody was break dancing, and you always had a dance battle. It came back around. The kids just want to dance. That’s a good thing. They ain’t fighting, they dance-battling. The music we were making, it was making you dance too, but it was different. We cleaned it up a little bit. You don’t want to see the little kids going crazy doing grown folk things.
You’re talking worldwide in terms of the dancing?
D-Roc: Yeah, everybody’s dancing. Every place you go to you’re going to learn a different dance. Everybody’s got a different dance they’re doing. To add onto it, you make a dance song. But at the end of the day, we’re going to make a Ying Yang dance song too, for the girls, for the grown folk.
Kaine: We also stepped into doing this hip-hop thing because for a long time people tried to figure, “Why do they get so much love from the people when their music is so vulgar?” A lot of the time to go with that music, what brought our longevity was that we were able to clean up our music, the vulgar stuff. We always used our ability to clean the record. Meaning you might not have got it on the clean version, but on the other version you got it. So we just trying to stay with what’s going on. We figured, “Why not go with no vulgarity, period?” I think people grasp the music because they know D-Roc and I are going to give 220%, that’s 110 twice.
Did it ever bother you that people were referring to your music as ‘vulgar’?
Kaine: That didn’t really concern us. When we started out we wanted to make music for the exotic clubs, so when people who didn’t work in those type of facilities tried to say anything to us, we knew they were clearly out of line, because they weren’t part of that world that we represented. The night world is nothing like the day world. We’ve been in the airplane, and in conversation with older women, and they’ve cussed me out, and I tell them, “I know you say the song doesn’t sound good, but what about the girl working in the club who’s got the same number of kids as the girl working at the insurance place? She needs to take care of her kids too. If my song can play in the club and this girl can make $1500, $2500, $3000, dancing to my music, that doesn’t help my sister?” All that really boils down to is you’ve got to step outside the box sometimes. Life is greater than all that bull-jive. That’s why our energy is so high. We’re not trying to move away from reality. The Ying Yang Twins are all about the common man. We represent for the common man, so the people who don’t have money can feel, even if it’s just for a certain amount of time, that they’ve got money. Because when you’ve got money it’s always fun. Your spirit is always jolly. There’s always something to do. When you don’t got none, it ain’t like that. So what if the music is all you’ve got to make you feel good? That’s our job, to show up and make people feel good.
How do you stay motivated to keep doing that?
Kaine: Staying motivated should be a built-in thing. If you don’t know how to stay motivated, then you fall into all the other things in life that will take you out of discovering whether you’re a star that can shine.
Kaine: Anything under the sun. You name it, bro. You got good vices and you got bad vices. You got people who love the stripclubs. You got people who love to read too much. You got people who don’t know nothing about the street, but everything about a book and an education. It goes hand-in-hand. It’s all up to you, to detect what’s for you, and what’s not for you. And something that’s not for you is against you. That’s how you’ve got to look at it. It’s not personal. It’s the way the ball bounce. But some people just can’t think outside the box. The key thing to keeping your motivation is thinking outside the box. Don’t never settle for what you see in front of your eyes. Always know there’s something else, somewhere else.
Switching up, you guys moved over to Epic Records. Why the move?
Kaine: The situation was there at the moment. Everything was right. It was a situation where Jermaine Dupri stepped in and walked our situation over to Epic. It was one of those.
Is the album done?
Kaine: No, the album’s not done, but we’ve got a lot of great records to choose from. But we’re always keeping an ear open for newer stuff. We’ve always got to stay going, to make sure we stay fresh.
Any hints about future records?
Kaine: They say gentlemen never tell. I don’t know. What you want to tell them, D-Roc?
D-Roc: It’s too long to keep talking about that. It’s time to get on my eargasm. It’s time for an eargasm. Quit the talking, it’s time for the music to do the walking.
Okay, then, you guys said you’re more than hip-hop, but at the same time hip-hop has really embraced you over the years. What have you given back to the culture?
Kaine: From doing spot dates, to big tours, whatever, people always say we remind them of their funnest cousins in their family. They see us and say, “It’s time to have fun.” Period. That’s what we give. The element of a good time, without all the extra. But see, people get hype to our songs and we have a good time, but we still see people get their head busted to “Salt Shaker” and we’re stopping the concert like, “Hold on, we’re talking about women. Why y’all fighting?” Basically the songs provide people with energy, and that’ll make some people go overboard from time to time. It ain’t got nothing to do with no aggressiveness. It got to do with aggressive clubbing. That’s it. So in a nutshell that’s what we do, we give people hope. We’re like the people’s champ. Ying Yang are the people’s champ. We are the Muhammad Ali of the people’s champs. We the ones they going to put everything up against, when they kick it out, because they think they know the way we are truly when they don’t- We’re outspoken. We’re like Muhammad Ali, two Muhammad Ali. Two butterflies and two bees, slowly stinging in double-time… [laughs] Hey, you know what luck is? Luck is when persistence meets chance. We’ll never not be persistent, and chance is always there. We’re going to bust it wide open.
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