Yolanda Whittaker aka YO-YO is a Grammy-nominated American rapper and actress. Much of her music has advocated female empowerment, denouncing the frequent sexism found in hip-hop music. She is the protege of gangsta rapper Ice Cube. Yo-Yo dubbed her crew the IBWC, which stood for the Intelligent Black Woman’s Coalition. Yo-Yo first appeared as a guest on Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted album in 1990, on the track “It’s a Man’s World.” Cube returned the favor by appearing on “You Can’t Play with My Yo-Yo,” which was on Yo-Yo’s 1991 debut album, Make Way for the Motherlode. Her follow-up in 1992, Black Pearl was well-received by critics, partly because of its focus on positive messages and uplifting themes that contrasted the popular gangsta rap style. However, despite a plethora of renowned producers such as DJ Muggs, this did not translate into a hit with mainstream hip-hop audiences, and the album’s sales were considered a disappointment. Less than a year later, released her follow-up “You Better Ask Somebody”. The final track on the album was her third recorded hip-hop duet with Ice Cube, “The Bonnie and Clyde Theme”. Yo-Yo’s next album was 1996’s “Total Control”. In 1998, she finished her fifth album, Ebony, but it was not released. In 2008, her single “Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo” was ranked number 92 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs. Later that year, she performed with MC Lyte, the Lady of Rage, and Salt-n-Pepa at the BET Hip Hop Awards. As of 2009, she has been at work on an EP, titled My Journey to Fearless: The Black Butterfly. In 1991, YoYo appeared in John Singleton’s feature film debut, Boyz n the Hood. She also appeared in Who’s the Man?, Menace II Society, Strapped, and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. She had a recurring role on the television show Martin as Keylolo, the sidekick of comedian Martin Lawrence’s alter ego Sheneneh; and appeared on other TV shows, including the Fox network’s New York Undercover. She has also made many cameo appearances, including the music video for Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”. YoYo has also appeared in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, as a voice actor. A meeting YoYo had in 1994 enabled her to help enrich children’s lives today. It was more than a decade ago that the pioneering Los Angeles rapper spoke before Congress on behalf of rap. While in Washington, she met U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represents California’s 35th Congressional District, which includes YoYo’s native South Central Los Angeles. With the help of Representative Waters’ Community Build program, YoYo launched “YoYo’s School Of Hip Hop,” a seven-week summer program designed to teach 100 low-income children hip-hop dance and how to write rap. A mother herself, YoYo knows the importance of keeping kids busy in a fun and productive manner, but also in a way that will entertain their minds. YoYo aims to inspire and reach out to kids that otherwise might not have such opportunities.
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