Right as she dropped her debut, Yo-Yo was featured prominently in John Singleton’s Boyz N’The Hood in 1991. At times juggling her Rap career, Yo-Yo continued to work in other films such as “Sister Act 2,” “Three Strikes,” and “Panther.” This past year, she joined MC Eiht as one of the many colorful, and arguably authentic voices on the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Yo-Yo has stayed in the game, with or without an album out. Still, the musical side of Yo-Yo’s career seemed rocky, “Here I was thinkin’ my time had come and gone. And people say, ‘Oh my gosh. You’re Yo-Yo, the Ice Cube Yo-Yo?’”
The Jungle Brothers’ music has kept them strong. Mike Gee and Afrika (Sammy Bee left the group around 2000) continue to tour abroad. True to their name, The JBeez may be the hardest working men in show business.
“We’ve been really heavy touring since about 2002. Prior to that, we was just doing spot dates and some European tours. We’ve been pumping it up. That’s all you gotta do – you gotta tour, and you gotta record,” Mike Gee says. The type of shows differ depending on the audience. Abroad, the group is cherished for their pioneering work in Drum & Bass and early House experimentation.
These foreign successes are perhaps part of the group’s decent here in the States. and Mike Gee has his justified answers, ““We started out as a Hip-Hop group. We tripped over that, ‘I’ll House You’ remix at a time when literally, the House and Hip-Hop, there wasn’t a big [difference]. There was still that love for genuine, good party music. We were able to morph into going on tour and doing straight House spots. From House, we went into doing Raves. The biggest audiences we’ve performed for haven’t been Hip-Hop, they’ve been big festival type of stuff.” But without their diverse abilities, the Jungle Brothers might not be so fortunate to stay so busy. In addition to the vast touring, the duo has continued to release albums, including 2002’s, All That We Do, to mild praise.
Grand Daddy I.U. has worked Biggie and Capone-N-Noreaga. In fact, Noreaga tried to work closer with I.U., he says.
“Nore wanted to get me onto the Thugged Out Entertainment. Them n***as is young. They want to go tear the club up, start fights, shoot-out’s. Nore always checkin’ for me,” says I.U.
Grand Daddy honed his abilities as a producer. It was I.U. who gave KRS-One of his biggest hits in the last decade, “Hot.” I.U. followed by turning in work for hardcore groups like Das EFX, and more recently, Ice-T. “I stay in the street. I’m not selling ‘I sell drugs no more,’ but the environment that I’m in and the people I’m around, give me so much to talk about. I’m living in the real s**t out here.” The streets have been a wealth of information.
Like his East Coast counterpart, Willie Dee of the Geto Boys has expanded his career through the years. He was a professional boxer in the 90’s and has pursued real estate ventures in the Middle East. Bushwick Bill may’ve suffered the cruelest of fates. Despite being the “make or break” variable to a classic Geto Boys album, recent solo albums by Bill have not fared well. Unwarranted features and poor production have kept Bill’s name stifled throughout the last decade.
In 2005, The Game has everybody’s attention and JayZ’s in the swivel chair at Def Jam. Times have changed but, for the artists mentioned herein, 2005 holds a lot of promise, and quite a few answers.
Grand Daddy I.U. hasn’t released an album in over ten years. His short-term goal is simple, “It’s a must that I show mothaf**kas that I ain’t fall off. Everybody thinks that if you came out in a certain era, that your music now, is gonna still sound like that. They reluctant to even give you a shot. There’s been a lot of dudes that tried to come back, and they was wack. But that’s not everybody.”
At press time, Grand Daddy I.U. was wrapping up an album tentatively titled Stick to the Script, distributed by Universal and MCS Entertainment. “I just wanna make my mark. For once and for all. I just want one joint on the radio. After that, I’m producing. Ain’t no n***a really hot like that now, except Jadakiss.”
The Geto Boys nine-year hiatus, The Foundation, is about to hit nationwide Willie D accepts the stark reality.
“We just feel like we not gonna be accepted anyway. We don’t fit the status quo,” he comments.
Countering, Bushwick Bill says, “What we’re doing is reminding today’s generation where their heroes got their talents from. Because we did that with people that went before us like Just Ice, and Kool G Rap, and Mantronix.” Futhermore, both H-Town dons have solo efforts in the works.
Mike Gee of The Jungle Brothers maintains a calm Zen-like attitude, as he simply wants to get back to the purer days.
“What we’re doing this time around is, the lead album we’re putting out is catered to the pure Hip-Hop fan-base that bred us. [Then,] we’re gonna be puttin’ out separate albums with various Dance mixes, Drum & Bass mixes, and give ‘em what they want,” says Mike from his North Carolina home.
Out West, Yo-Yo prepares, Fearless, her comeback album. To generate a buzz, she’s recorded two remixes utilizing tracks from Ciara and The Game. Yo-Yo proudly proclaims, “I did the remix, shipped it out. I got a lot of connects. It was like a swing dance.” Yo-Yo says she’s received love from a number of radio stations and industry players. “People say it’s not like it was back in the days – it’s better,” she exclaims.
The West vet has already worked with Kurupt and Petey Pablo and looks to working with Dr. Dre, The Game, Missy and others have expressed interest. “The greatest challenge is reintroducing myself, myself,” Yo-Yo says.
Reintroductions can be awkward. But when the stakes are higher than a young Ozzy Osbourne and the pressure rivals a performance meeting with Donald Trump, one would be surprised what can come out of such adversity. Still, from Young MC to Run DMC to Whodini, the comeback remains an elusive animal.
Perhaps, these artists are equipped with a bear trap.