Ying Yang Twins Discuss Twerking in Mainstream America, Love for Miley Cyrus & Solo Albums [Exclusive Interview]
If you think Miley Cyrus invented the booty-popping movement known as twerking, you’re sadly mistaken. The Ying Yang Twins are the first to make a claim to that fame. From ‘Salt Shaker’ and ‘What’s Happnin’ to ‘Shake’ and ‘Badd,’ the Atlanta hip-hop duo have been in the business of making songs for strippers to shake their derrieres to for quite some time.
The Twins broke onto the hip-hop scene with ‘Whistle While You Twurk’ in 2000, and although that laid the foundation for the beginnings of the twerk movement, it wasn’t until they teamed up with fellow ATL rapper Lil Jon on 2002’s ‘Get Low’ that everyone started to take notice of their craft.
As a result, D-Roc and Kaine realized they could take their music to a wider audience. They released five full-length studio albums and four mixtapes, including two — ‘Ass In Session’ and ‘Twurk or Die’ — that debuted this year alone. Even though each project boasted its own set of hits, it was the 2005 LP ‘U.S.A. (United State of Atlanta) that helped the rap duo dominate radio with ‘Shake,’ ‘Badd’ and ‘Wait (The Whisper Song).’
On the way to making twerking music more mainstream, the Ying Yang Twins made some major moves in the sports realm. ‘Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk)’ is a playlist staple at many NFL stadiums and even an unofficial anthem for the New Orleans Saints. It’s pretty clear these guys put the now popular dance style on the map.
The Boombox spoke to D-Roc about his thoughts on twerking in mainstream America, love for Miley Cyrus, solo albums and why he never gets tired of performing old Ying Yang Twins hits.
Why the whole twerking theme with the new mixtape?
Well, actually, when we first came out, we had the whole twerk thing, and we had a big part in the start of the twerk movement and got it big to what it is now. So we just wanted to get recognized for it and let them know, “This is where it started.” We didn’t just jump into the movement. We’ve been doing that. That was our whole M.O. when we came out. Our music was based on the strippers because that’s what they do. That kind of dancing has been going on.
Since you and Kaine were instrumental in pushing that movement to the forefront, what do you think of the fact that twerking has been blowing up so much recently?
I just feel like it caught on a bit more. It just appeals to the masses now. When we were doing it in the beginning, as I said, we were just doing it for the strippers, for the strip clubs. But now, we’ve got every girl twerking now. Before it was just the black girls twerking, but now we got the white girls. The white girls were twerking in front of mirrors, and now they’re taking it outside. And that’s because Miley [Cyrus] made it cool to twerk outside your house. And when that happened, it kind of got bigger than what it was originally.
Speaking of Miley Cyrus, why did you decide to write a song about her?
Yeah, so when Miley Cyrus started doing it, it’s like “OK, OK, that means we can do it, too. If Miley can do it, we can do it.” That’s the reason we did that. We didn’t say anything negative towards Miley Cyrus. We do like Miley Cyrus. She’s on it. You can do it, too. Go outside and do it. Go into the club and do it. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the longest time. We have block parties, and that’s all you see — girls twerking like a mother.
This isn’t the only mixtape you’ve recently released. ‘Ass in Session’ released over the summer. Now are all these mixtapes leading up to a full-length album in the near future?
It’s a lead-up to the album. But to me, these aren’t mixtape songs. They’re more album songs. We want to let everybody know that, all right, here we come. And when we come, it’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be bigger than these mixtapes. And that’s what we’re doing and intentionally leading up to.
Can you share some details about the upcoming album?
The album is still in the making. We were working on the album and the mixtape at the same time. So we were recording songs for both, but we’re indecisive on the titles. We don’t know what the titles are going to be yet, but it’s coming. There are features on there like we have our artist on our album. We’ll have Rhythm, who was on ‘Miley Cyrus.’ She’s going to be on there. Then we’ll have RMA, you know, Kaine’s group. And he’s going to drop his own solo album in the coming weeks. So we’re kind of branching out and making it bigger this time.
Kaine has his own project going on. Do you have anything in the works yourself?
Well, there’s RMA. And Rhythm is in that group, too. And we realized that she has a great voice. So we’re trying to promote her out and let the public hear her do her thing because she’s something different to the team. She’s representing for the gay community.
How do you still have the energy or even the passion to keep going and putting out music since you’ve been in the hip-hop game for so long?
The love for music. We have a real passion and love for music. When we’re in the studio, it’s like we’re releasing energy. Then performing onstage is like releasing more energy. It’s like when I perform, we release the energy to the fans and then they respond to it, and that’s a great feeling.
You obviously have a lot of big hits with ‘Salt Shaker’ and ‘Wait (The Whisper Song)’ but are still producing new tracks. Do you ever get tired of performing the old material?
No, because that’s what the people know, and they sing it out with you. That’s the love you get back. So it makes us see that we’re still relevant. You just bring the old stuff to get their attention then you put out the new stuff then you get the excitement. I love performing actually. Me and Kaine love performing. It can never get tiring.