With a discography dating back to 1998, the Ying Yang Twins make music from the soul for people to enjoy — and say it’s not “crunk” music. Half of the duo, rapper D-Roc, spoke with Vocalo afternoon host Nudia Hernandez about his career, the duo’s genre-fluidity and more.
The Ying Yang Twins, AKA rappers Kaine and D-Roc, met at 15 — when D-Roc had already been rapping for three years. The two have worked together and remained friends ever since, even making music to this day; their most recent release was the June single “One Night Only.” D-Roc reflected on good times and hardships shared through his brotherly relationship with Kaine, and how hardships can always be overcome with someone you love.
“You have to be friends, period,” D-Roc recollected. “If you ain’t friends, you ain’t nothing.”
Though the group has been categorized as crunk, this definition doesn’t fit the complete scope of their dynamic, genre-bending sound. D-Roc doesn’t just consider his genre crunk music: it’s hip-hop.
“Ying Yang twins, we was in our own lane!” D-Roc said. “We make twerk music […] all our music is something for you to twerk to.”
It’s essential to the duo for listeners to enjoy themselves while listening to their music. D-Roc can’t choose a favorite song, but notes listeners can expect to be taken through the roof at their shows.
The pair will be performing at Aurora’s RiverEdge Park with Flo Rida on July 21, but beforehand D-Roc called in for a conversation with Vocalo’s Nudia Hernandez on July 18. They delved into touring, his musical history and how to stay together as a group.
“No, Lil Jon is crunk music. Ying Yang Twins, we was in our own lane … Ying Yang is hip-hop.”– D-Roc of the Ying Yang Twins
Nudia Hernandez: Vocalo Radio Chicago’s only NPR Music station and your favorite urban alternative. Nudia in the Afternoon here with you. We have a special guest on the line right now! I’m super excited to see them, they’re going to be at Aurora RiverEdge Park with Flo Rida on Friday. The last time I saw them was on the Vegas stop of the Millennium Tour, and it’s probably one of my favorite concert experiences ever because the whole building was moving! On the phone, I have D-Roc from the Ying Yang Twins! There we go!
D-Roc: Ay! Ay! I’m gonna tell you what I’m doing, I’m just D-RocYing. America’s Most Wanted, go on LiveMixtape right now! D-RocYing, America’s Most Wanted.
NH: America’s Most Wanted! Again, I saw you in Vegas for the Millennium Tour. And there was like 75 acts, there was a lot of people on that tour. But I have to say, when you guys came out, I remember I thought that the bleachers were gonna collapse. I mean, it was literally shaking. The energy from the crowd was insane. Is it always like that anytime you guys go anywhere?
D-Roc: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You know! That’s what we do. We come to turn it up.
NH: I love that, because the energy changed. The whole place was going crazy. I have to say, since the 2000s, I mean, you put out “Whistle While You Twerk” in 2000, has it been like that ever since? Because I mean, y’all’s music just never stopped trending, really. You could play it in the club right now and it’ll still go off.
D-Roc: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s what we work for.
NH: And I have to say, you’re probably arguably one of the biggest club hits ever, you guys are on “Get Low” with [Lil] Jon. When you went to make the songs, did you know? When you were in the booth, are you like, “Oh, this is gonna be a huge hit”?
D-Roc: No, actually, you know, when we record music, we record music from the heart. It’s from the soul. We make the music that we feel like people will like. That’s why if you go on LiveMixtape.com right now and download D-RocYing, America’s Most Wanted, you’ll hear everything you like, I got that old school. For real, I got a song called “Old School.”
NH: I would like to know, because I know … you’re a group, you’re a duo. Is it hard after – you guys have known each other since you were 12 years old, right? You guys have been making music since around like 17, 18 I think y’all been making music together?
D-Roc: Well, we’ve been knowing each other since we was like 15, 16. But I’ve been rapping since I was 12. I had started rapping before I had met Kaine, I had beat the banquette bouncing everything. And then when me and Kaine met, we formed The Ying Yang Twins.
NH: What advice would you give, I mean a lot of groups, duos break up these days. What advice would you guys give to be able to still make music together and get along after all these years?
D-Roc: You know, you got to be friends. If you ain’t friends, you ain’t nothing.
NH: So that’s the secret, the friendship?
D-Roc: Yeah, you gotta look at a friendship just like brotherhood. Brothers gonna fight, but they always make that.
NH: I love that.
D-Roc: If you in a group, we all gotta be like brotherhood. If you’re in a group, y’all brothers. Y’all gonna have some good times and some bad times. But when it comes down to it, it’s time to work.
NH: Out of your guys’ music career, what would you say is the point when you felt like you blew up? Because I mean, you guys were making music, I think at 18, when you guys started putting out music, it automatically hit radio in Atlanta. But was there ever a minute where you felt like, “Oh we’re big big.”
D-Roc: The point when I first asked my mama could I rap, that’s when I knew I was big-big. I was shooting for that day. At that moment, I was for real big-big. As soon as I made it, I was big-big. That’s the moment I was big-big. The moment that they played our song on the radio, we were big-big. We had a new song out and no album yet, and was already big-big.
NH: A lot of people, I think I’ve heard some other interviews and things like that, a lot of the conversation, people talk about the crunk scene in Atlanta in the early 2000s. And you guys get put in that conversation a lot. Do you like that or not? Do consider your catalog …
D-Roc: Nope. Nope.
NH: … crunk music?
D-Roc: No, no. I think I could’ve cut you off as soon as you had said that. No, Lil Jon is crunk music. Ying Yang Twins, we was in our own lane. We make twerk music. We’ve never made crunk music. All our music is something for you to twerk to. [The music] we did with Lil Jon was crunk. I’m sorry, I cussed, I forgot we was on the radio!
NH: Oh, that’s okay. We got a dump button. It’s all good, things happen! Of course, the twerk music and stuff. Do you listen to artists nowadays? I feel like so many artists were influenced by The Ying Yang Twins. Like, do you guys hear anyone … ?
D-Roc: Hold on, hold on. Let me let me break it down, though. Let me break it down. They said 50 years of hip-hop. So period, Ying Yang is hip-hop.
D-Roc: Up top. We hip-hop, period. Period. Don’t give us no genre! We hip-hop, we all those things. We can jump or anybody’s songs.
NH: And I feel like you guys have!
D-Roc: Ying Yang is hip-hop.
NH: I mean, you guys have jumped on everyone’s song. I remember there was a song I really loved that you guys did with Wyclef Jean, “Dangerous.”
D-Roc: Yep, “Dangerous.”
NH: Oh my gosh, even to this day, I still bump that song all the time. And it’s just like, you guys could literally collaborate with anyone and it sounds good. You guys collaborated with Britney Spears! And it was a hit.
D-Roc: Oh yeah, it was Britney. I’m about to say the B-word. It was Britney!
NH: I appreciate it! I have to say, you make all this music, you’ve made all these hits. Do you personally have a favorite song you like to perform?
D-Roc: All love.
NH: All of them?
D-Roc: No, not all of them, all love.
NH: All love. I think I got it! “Wait,” “Salt Shaker,” “Whistle While You Twurk,” “Get Low.” What could people expect at a Ying Yang Twins show? They’re gonna get real hyped, right?
D-Roc: Yeah, yeah. We take it through the roof.
NH: What are you guys working on now? You guys, of course, have all these shows. I feel like you guys never come off the road. You guys are always doing a show somewhere.
D-Roc: Oh, yeah. We’re on the road with our album complete, so we put it down, down. My uncle, he blessed us. Hopefully, I’m about to say, “Welcome to Death Row,” and then I’ll be on Death Row, D-RocYing. I’m just D-RocYing! ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ out right now on LiveMixtapes! Download it, mess with me right now! Right now, LiveMixtapes.com
NH: LiveMixtapes! Again, just in case no one heard it, LiveMixtapes, D-RocYing.
D-Roc: LiveMixtapes.com, America’s Most Wanted, D-RocYing.
NH: We love that! And again …
D-Roc: Right now! I need to see them views start jumping. I’m just D-RocYing.
NH: The Ying Yang Twins are going to be at RiverEdge in Aurora this Friday with Flo Rida. Again, in case you missed it, we have D-Roc from the Ying Yang Twins on with us. Thank you so much for coming on the show!
D-Roc: I know one thing, we better see them Apple Bottom jeans …
Both: Boots with the fur!
D-Roc: The whole club was …
Both: Looking at her!
D-Roc: She hit the floor.
D-Roc: She dropped it low.
D-Roc: Shawty got low, low, low, low …
NH: Ay! Well, thank you so much, D-Roc, for being on with us.
D-Roc: Hey, thank you. Thank you. And again, everybody, LiveMixtape.com, LiveMixtape.com. America’s Most Wanted, D-RocYing.
NH: It’s Vocalo Radio, 91.1 FM
Follow the Ying Yang Twins on Instagram
Interview and audio production by Nudia Hernandez, audio editing by Imani Warren
Written introduction by Imani Warren
Transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca
More from Vocalo:
- Micah Collier On ‘Becoming’ A Fresh Voice In Chicago Jazz
- Entrevista con Son Rompe Pera: el regreso a Chicago para presentar ‘Chimborazo’ en Park West
- WBEZ Investigation Reveals Illinois Traffic Stop Disparities
- The Reel Critic Puts A Spotlight On ‘The Super Models’
- Octavia Reese Creates Work At The Intersection of Art And Technology