By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Atlanta's proud sons and crunk fore-fathers the Ying Yang Twins have spent the past decade kickin' a holla out from tha squalor. Now touring on their fifth original full-length, 2006's Chemically Imbalanced, the Ying Yang Twins have perfected a formula that balances tracks that are grounded with ones for the ladies who are scrubbin' da ground.
Coming up in the East Atlanta projects, Eric "Kaine" Jackson and D'Angelo "D-Roc" Holmes (both now 28) started spitting rhymes together at age 16, when Kaine's brother-from-another-mother D-Roc was making a name for himself on the bass scene. When it comes to electro, Kaine also loves to jam on it. The duo eventually took it from the streets to the studio, breaking out around 2000.
"We was always on the same page as other people makin' the music that vibrates the club, but we was also always on something way different," says Kaine by phone from a tour stop in Fort Collins, Colorado. "So much was about the bling, not the agonies of everyday. Me and my brother like to help you rejoice, but we've got some subject-matter records that will also get a nice response."
Hooking up with key producers Lil Jon and Michael "DJ Smurf/Beat-N-Azz/Mr. ColliPark" Crooms, Kaine and D-Roc released a series of classic shake-club tracks including "Whistle While You Twurk," "Salt Shaker," "Badd" and "1st Booty on Duty," plus they guested on Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz's "Get Low," Bubba Sparxxx's "Ms. New Booty," and even Britney Spears' "(I Got That) Boom Boom." That's the ying. But there's also the yang—admissions of conflict such as "Naggin'," "Smoke By Myself," "Long Time" and "Leave"—and the only time Kaine seems more intense than when he's onstage is when he's trying to stress that Ying Yang Twins should be respected as artists and men.
"We stay true to our roots—you can't miss it in how we speak—and part of our roots is the reality that nobody owes you shit you don't work for, and we feel we worked for it," says Kaine, who has named the label for his solo ventures Grown Folks Entertainment. This is a man who once said he wanted to open a car lot for the less fortunate, offering tricked-out Monte Carlos for $6,000 in order to give ghetto kids a goal other than hurtin' folks to get theirs. But that doesn't change the fact Kaine goes by the self-appointed nickname Dr. Gloomy Doom.
"We stay true to the streets; we know the difference between work and reality. For work, we gotta act more like people persons, but it ain't like that in real life. In real life, it's just been D-Roc and Kaine."
Indeed, the Ying Yang Twins have even split with longtime producer Mr. ColliPark following Chemically Imbalanced (a more melodic half of which was produced by Wyclef Jean). The Ying Yang Twins aren't sure yet who will work on their next album, tentatively titled ATLHole for the clean version and ATLHellHole for the explicit. Kaine also plans a project called the Blackaneese with his camp Them No Name Niggas. The one thing he promises is that the Ying Yang Twins know what the people want, and they will give it to them alongside something they don't expect.
Examples of how Southern hip-hop differs from that of the rest of the country can be found in Kaine and D-Roc's most interesting tracks, in which they aren't afraid to admit there's some shame in the game. Cagey as they are clubby, the Ying Yang Twins epitomize the phrase "bros before hoes," though the group is more than willing to entertain both.
"I look at everybody across the globe and have everybody look back at us like they our cuz," says Kaine. "It's a family 'cause we're entertainers and our fans pay for our music.
"But we don't have to break our necks," counters Kaine. "Respect is given just like it's due."
This kind of flip is no surprise. Kaine, born with spastic cerebral palsy and a bowed limp (D-Roc was born with an underdeveloped left hand), has always made it known he's a ladies' man; it's just that the lady is often a classic Chevy.
"You invest a lot in the cars, take your time with them, and they don't let you down other than normal wear and tear. People can let you down more."
But cars also move people, which is also what the Ying Yang Twins continue to do.
YING YANG TWINS PERFORM WITH KONFLIC, JOHNNY BLAZE AND OTHERS AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-0600; WWW.GALAXYTHEATRE.COM. FRI., 7 P.M. $25-$30.