Saturday, December 3, 2022

What Happened to the Ying Yang Twins? A 2018 Update

The Atlanta music scene has changed a lot in the past decade. It went from crunk to turnt up, and for a while, it seemed like the transition would leave some of the big names in Atlanta behind. The Ying Yang Twins were the producer duo behind some of the biggest tracks to come out of the Dirty South during the 2000s. Recently, they’ve worked with some up-and-coming artists, possibly bringing into this decade of hyphy rap. But will it be enough to help them get back on top?

The Ying Yang Twins & Lil Jon

Eric “Kaine” Jackson and Deongelo “D-Roc” Holmes, like most of their contemporaries in the Atlanta music scene, came out of relative obscurity. Not much is known about the duo from before their first single, “Whistle While You Twurk.” The track, released in the last part of 1999, was absurdly successful for a first single, peaking at #17 on Billboard‘s R&B/Hip-Hop charts. After the King Me tour, where they performed with Juz tha King, Demo Dil, and Kat Nu, the Ying Yang Twins had the finances to put together a full album.

Thug Walkin’ dropped the following spring, and featured a couple remixes of “Whistle While You Twurk.” About half of the tracks were produced by Lil Jon, who had not yet found his own celebrity. But when Lil Jon was noticed by Bryan Leach at TVT Records, Leach also took an interest in the Ying Yang Twins. Unfortunately, prolonged negotiations meant that the Twins’ sophomore album came out under Koch Records, forcing Lil Jon to take a backseat to the Twins’ other favorite produce, Mr. Collipark.

Alley: The Return of the Ying Yang Twins debuted at #79 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in March 2002. Peaking at #58, the album sold more than 400,000 copies, mostly to fans supportive of the new production styles coming out of Atlanta. After Alley‘s release, the Ying Yang Twins were free of their commitment to Koch, and worked with Lil Jon for “Get Low,” the hit single from Lil Jon’s Kings of Crunk. The success of “Get Low” put the Twins into the national spotlight, and set them up with everything they would need to make a stellar third album.

Which they did with Me & My Brother, released in 2003. The album debuted at #11, staying on the charts for over a year. Lil Jon came back, though just for a couple songs, and lending his voice to “Salt Shaker,” which broke into the Billboard Top 10, becoming the group’s biggest hit to date. Later into the year, the Ying Yang Twins worked with Britney Spears for her album In the Zone, helping most heavily with the hit single “I Got That (Boom Boom).”

"Wait (The Whisper Song)" was by far the duo's most popular song
“Wait (The Whisper Song)” was by far the duo’s most popular song

In 2004, TVT released a remix album, My Brother & Me, to capitalize on the first album’s success. The following summer, the producer duo released U.S.A. (United State of Atlanta), which had three chart-topping singles. “Wait (The Whisper Song)”, “Badd”, and “Shake” became radio repeats, with “Wait” reaching #15 on the Hot 100. Notably, “Wait” helped bring snap, a subgenre of crunk, into the mainstream, and introduced lots of producers from outside the Atlanta scene to that sound.

After the massive success of U.S.A., the Ying Yang Twins had one of the most memorable episodes of MTV Cribs, that was later lampooned by The Dave Chappelle Show. On their episode, they gave a tour of their “sea room,” which was decorated to mimic the aesthetic of a yacht club, and drew special attention to their pantry, which was full of ramen and cans of CRUNK!!! Energy Drink, an homage to the music style that brought them into the national spotlight.

From Crunk to Turnt

Crunk, as a genre and aesthetic, was fading from popularity by 2006 as it blended with the emerging snap style and the West Coast’s hyphy, by way of New York. This kept the Ying Yang Twins from seeing massive success through the later part of the decade, but didn’t stop them from releasing records and working with other artists.

They released Chemically Imbalanced in November 2006, working heavily with Wyclef Jean to supplement the influence of long-time producer Mr. Collipark. The first single, “Dangerous,” featured Wyclef Jean and samples from Hall & Oates and Ram Jam’s rendition of “Black Betty.” The song was a radio hit, though was actually more popular in Australia and New Zealand than here in the States.

In 2008, the duo released their first mixtape since the mid-90s, The Official Work, and the next year released Ying Yang Forever. For the first time since they became radio regulars, the duo didn’t work with Mr. Collipark. Instead, they self-produced most of The Official Work and worked with Joe Traxx for Ying Yang Forever.

Just three months after they dropped Ying Yang Forever, when they were still on the supporting tour, they released Legendary Status: Ying Yang Twins Greatest Hits, through The Orchard. The Orchard was a haven for artists who had been part of label imprints who were absorbed by larger labels, but didn’t have their catalog taken with them.

A year after Legendary Status, the Twins released Gumbo, a two-part hybrid between a greatest hits album and mixtape. In 2011 they released The ReMixTape, which was basically what it sounded like, a mixtape of remixes of both their own songs and songs from their contemporaries. Despite the frequent releases of new material, it seemed like popular tastes had moved past the Ying Yang Twins, just like they’d moved past crunk as a genre.

The Crunk!!! Juice in the pantry was just back-up in case they ran out of the ~78 cans in their fridge
The Crunk!!! Juice in the pantry was just back-up in case they ran out of the ~78 cans in their fridge

During the summer of 2012, the Ying Yang Twins again made national headlines, but not for their music. D-Roc, the more energetic half of the duo, was pulled over in Georgia and arrested for driving under the influence, with his two young children in the back seat. No information is available about what happened after the arrest, so it can be assumed D-Roc met bail and was later given probation.

In 2013, the Ying Ying Twins released two mixtapes, Ass in session and, a throwback to their first album, Twurk or Die. Like their earlier mixtapes, the pieces were mostly self-produced, and were mostly ignored by critics and didn’t make it to the radio. The lack of success started to effect the production team, most publicly D-Roc, who had to negotiate with a judge to reduce his child support payments, which were based on his income following the success of “Wait (The Whisper Song)”. This has people speculating that the Ying Yang Twins net worth may be as low as $100,000, despite their multiple charting hits.

After D-Roc was arrested again in 2014, for hitting his wife, he plead no contest and served a 24-hour jail sentence, followed by a year of probation. It seemed as though the Ying Yang Twins were going to end up being one of the many hip-hop acts unable to last past the zenith of their genre.

What Are The Ying Yang Twins Doing Now in 2018?

Since D-Roc’s arrest, the Ying Yang Twins were inactive, until very recently. Dennis Blaze, a young club DJ working on San Diego’s KISSFM, released “Back Work,” produced in part by the Twins, on April 5, 2016. Just last week, the Ying Yang Twins lent their sound to Pouya, a rapper out of Miami, Florida. Pouya, whose sound is reminiscent of Three 6 Mafia, released his latest album, Underground Underdog, on April 29. The track featuring the Twins was called “Badonk.”

Outside of new collaborations, the Twins have been touring around American campuses, performing to decently packed crowds. However, online event listings are hard to find, so it seems as though the college tour is over. The next known performance from the Ying Yang Twins will be on July 8, in Las Vegas. Maybe they’ll learn what Lil Jon did: no matter what sort of party you want, you can find it in Vegas.

Morgan Sennhauser
Morgan Sennhauser is a thoroughbred millennial, who has focused on working against censorship and surveillance in Africa and the Middle East. Now living in North Carolina, Morgan spends his time advocating for minority groups in impoverished regions, and writing about related topics.
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