|Full Name||Yolanda Whitaker|
|Age||51 years old|
|Birthday||August 4, 1971|
|Birthplace||Los Angeles, California|
|Height||5‘ 5" (165 cm)|
In the male-dominated world of hip hop, female rappers have had to work twice as hard to make their voices heard. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Yo Yo emerged as a pioneering and influential female voice in rap. With her skillful rhymes and empowering lyrics, Yo Yo made significant contributions to hip hop culture that are still felt today.
Early Life and Influences
Yo Yo was born Yolanda Whitaker on August 4, 1971 in Los Angeles, California. From a young age, she found inspiration and influence from strong female artists like Aretha Franklin, M.C. Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Roxanne Shante. Yo Yo has said that listening to these powerful women helped shape her own assertive rapping style and gave her the confidence to enter the male-dominated genre of hip hop.
She competed in local talent shows around LA throughout her childhood, honing her performance skills. In 1987 at the age of 16, Yo Yo made her first recording with hip hop group Wreckx-N-Effect on their album Wreckx Shop. This kicked off her music career and she soon adopted the stage name Yo Yo.
Breakout Success in the 90s
Yo Yo‘s big break came when she was discovered by Ice Cube at a celebrity basketball game in LA. Impressed by her rapping skills, Ice Cube featured Yo Yo on his 1990 album AmeriKKKa‘s Most Wanted. Her scene-stealing verse on the track "It‘s a Man‘s World" announced the arrival of an exciting new female voice in rap.
In 1991, Yo Yo released her debut album Make Way for the Motherlode on East West Records. The album was a critical and commercial success, reaching #22 on the Billboard 200 chart. It featured her iconic hit "You Can‘t Play with My Yo-Yo" which peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track cemented Yo Yo‘s star status with its catchy hook and lyrics portraying her as a confident, assertive woman demanding respect.
Some of her other popular songs from the 90s era include:
- "Homegirl Don‘t Play Dat" – Tackled domestic abuse and unhealthy relationships
- "Is It Good to You" – Empowering lyrics about self-respect
- "Westside Story" – Displayed her skills trading verses with Tupac Shakur
- "Stompin‘ to tha 90‘s" – High energy track made popular by MTV play
Yo Yo‘s rhyming skills and charismatic delivery wowed critics in the 90s. She rapped about female empowerment in a way no other mainstream rappers were doing at the time.
Legacy as a Hip Hop Pioneer
While Yo Yo‘s output slowed down after the 90s, her cultural impact continues to be felt. She‘s regarded as a true hip hop pioneer who broke ground for female rappers and infused the genre with a much-needed woman‘s perspective.
Modern female rappers like Nicki Minaj have specifically cited her as an inspiration:
"Female rappers wouldn‘t have the courage to be so straight forward without YoYo paving the way" – Nicki Minaj
Yo Yo proved that female rappers can achieve commercial success without compromising their lyrics or image. Her confidence and fearless style opened the doors for many other female rappers who followed like Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliott. Even today‘s female rap stars owe a debt to groundbreakers like Yo Yo. Over 30 years into her career, this Queen of Hip Hop remains an inspiration.