Atlanta-based rap duo, Ying Yang Twins have been on the music radar since the beginning of the last decade, but landed mainstream success and got the party-goers jumping, with hits like “Salt Shaker” and their collaboration with hype-man, Lil’ Jon on his song, “Get Low”, in 2003. Kaine (Eric Jackson) and D-Roc (De’Angelo Holmes) are known for their raunchy lyrics and wild attitude and the buzz around downtown Phoenix spread like wild-fire when it was learned they were to perform on September 1st at School of Rock, a 21+ dance club in Tempe, which provides the perfect atmosphere for hip-hop fans around the valley.
Arriving at 10:45pm, I entered the club with my plus-one and we made our way in through the ‘guest list’ line and went to enjoy the drinks and the festivities (gyrating go-go dancers in bedazzled underwear and furry boots), and were photographed by Dark Pearl Photography, the leading photography duo out on Mill Ave. Soon, the chaos in the packed club was reaching pinnacle as JD, (a radio station personality) dressed in a grey-suit jacket and blue jeans, made announcements over the microphone, “THE YING YANG TWINS ARE IN THE BUILDING!” The crowd responded graciously, and my company and I made our way to the VIP area where we were ushered to the top where the Ying Yang Twins sat at a table, a few feet away, with a blonde woman who was sitting with them.
I tried to sit down on a small couch and watch the party ensue, but it was too low to the ground and my vision was obstructed by the cloistered bodies packed in the small area. I jumped back up, and in looking straight ahead, met eyes with Kaine, one part of the rap duo, who was staring at me intensely through his tinted aviators. Standing at just over 5 feet, he was stationed at the table that was shrouded in bottles of liquor and decanters of fruit juice. An open bottle of Grey Goose was being shuffled around. Dirty-blonde braids hung from his head and stopped at his shoulders and his signature goatee was a bright shade of bleached blonde. He wore a black t-shirt with a logo emblazoned on the front and black cargo shorts that looked more like pants.
I approached Ian Isaac, my friend, and lead-photographer for Dark Pearl and asked him to get me in a photograph. When space was cleared out, security shoved me between both Kaine, and his counter-part, D-Roc and the picture was taken within seconds. I turned to Kaine, who extended his hand, “What’s your name?” I introduced myself, he was still sitting and urged me to lean down toward him, “I’m Kaine” he said calmly, “…I juss gotta tell you, you know, you da baddest muthafucka in herre”, he said, in a thick, lazy Georgian drawl, right into my ear; his smile revealed a set of perfect teeth, the bottom row decorated with randomized gold caps. My hands rested in his. “Aw, really? Thank you.” I was blushing as I broke away and stood four feet from the artists.
Every few minutes, I observed Kaine still ogling me from his perch, as he pounded back gulps of Patron tequila straight from the bottle. D-Roc was detached from the action, seemingly in his own world, with his lap-top open and dark sunglasses firmly planted on his face; a burning joint was between his thin fingers.
It was past midnight and nothing had happened yet, DJ DECiPHA was spinning at the booth and I was becoming fatigued. I approached Kaine once again, “when are you getting up there?” I asked into his braided locks, hoping the sound would reach his ear, “Soon…really soon…” he said slowly, “You so young and pretty, look like you gotta curfew.” I adamantly tried to convince him that this was not true, at which he responded with more laughter. I stood back a few feet and removed one of my 5-inch, black stilettos: my feet were killing me. Kaine mouthed in my direction and beckoned me to come over to him again, with the single shoe dangling from my finger, I approached. He was looking up at me and chuckling.
“What? What is so funny?” I teased, “My feet hurt.”
More laughter, “oh, so only one of yo’ feet hurt?”
“Well, both of them hurt but I’m taking turns” I quipped back flirtatiously.
“Well come sit down den, you wanna sit right herre at da table?” he asked patiently.
“I can’t have you standing there with yo’ feet hurtin’” he said as he rose from his seat and let me position myself over the chair before scooting it back in, in a blatant show of southern chivalry, and he remained standing until I sat, before parking on a seat before me.
We sat together as he continued to compliment me and began to talk about his children, “you kind of remind me of my daughter.” He nodded his head, he seemed stone sober despite the amount of tequila I had witnessed him consume.
“How many do you have?”
Kaine lifted up two fingers, “only two, only two, I was blessed with” and proceeded to tell me their names and ages. His eyes were sensitive and patient; he seemed like a humble family man, a stark contrast of what his rap-image depicts to the fans. At that moment it was hard to image this was the same man that instructed legions of female admires to “shake yo ass and stop” among other sexual explicit details that could make even the insensitive drop their jaw in shock.
“Who’s that?” he asked, nodding toward the direction of my company.
“My mom…that’s my mom.”
His dark eyes widened from beneath his glasses, a huge smile broke across his face, “No, way…that’s yo mom?!” he exclaimed, and began maniacally tapping D-Roc on the shoulder, “D…guess what…D…that’s her mother, man!” D-Roc removed his shades to reveal a pair of shiny, dark eyes, before spinning around to look at her. “Daaayyummm” he said in a way typical of the Ying Yang Twins. He was wearing a screen t-shirt, a denim vest and pants, two shiny necklaces hung from around his neck; he was thin and stood at five feet, eight inches. Just observing him for a moment, he seemed quiet and intense. Both of them were extremely cognizant, calm and relaxed, which I had not expected.
My mom extended her hand, toward D-Roc, then Kaine, “I love you!”
“I love you, too” he Kaine replied with the country accent.
D-Roc smiled hard, clearly confounded by the effects of alcohol and marijuana.
“She’s supposed to tell you I’m her sister, I’m going to get her when I get home!” my mother joked.
“Aw nah, ha ha, aw nah, don’t do ‘nuthin to ‘er!” Kaine started to laugh, “you both ‘err very beautiful”
The School of Rock crowd was raucous and was collectively sending shocks of excited energy through the air, the entire place was buzzing. Fans came and went, stopping in front of them to pose for quick snapshots. “Wow” I said, nodding toward the throngs of fans looking to take a picture.
“Crazy” Kaine responded, punctuating the word with a nod.
“Everyone likes to put them up online” I said, trying to explain the motive for all the photographs being taken.
I pressed further, “You don’t do any of that I assume, your reps do it for you guys” Referring to the trend of spending days on the internet, surfing the web and posting pictures of daily events.
“Yeah… cause…nah, naw…I cain’t. Got things to do! I got ‘a job ta do!”
“Well, it’s not all bad, some people use it for networking specifically” I commented.
“Ha ha I know, I didn’t mean it like that, don’t take it like that…” he shook his head and smiled apologetically. I was not offended, and assured him so. The blonde woman at the table with us was entirely silent and held her face in her cupped hands, her blue eyes that were underlined with silver glitter eyeliner, darted around the room in observation of the intensifying insanity. She did not introduce herself.
“Are you here because you want to be, or are you guys touring?” Kaine looked at me without responding for five full seconds. I did not flinch as we silently considered each other. “Both” he finally said and smiling very sincerely. “…we’re realisin’ a new album and also the tour…we’re from Atlanta.”
I shook my head knowingly, then without segue continued the conversation, “are you hot?”
He said no despite his sweating forehead and the general temperature of the crowded club. He asked me the same question and then put a white towel over his head, before turning to look at the crowd of people. After a minute of observation, he pulled me in close once again, “her…now her right ‘durr, she cain’t dance.” He shook his head solemnly like his whole world had been crushed by this revelation, “it ain’t about havin’ an ass or not havin’ an ass, ya know? But she just cain’t dance.”
“Well, can you? You’re going to have to show her up”
Big grin, “Ahh, not yet, not yet. Later, doh, juss watch”
D-Roc was to my right, standing over his laptop, gesticulating to whoever it was next to him. He turned to look at me, his eyes were glistening and he appeared slightly dazed by the commotion around him, a smile broke across his face, he too possessed a perfect pair of teeth: big, straight, white and devoid of a signature hip-hop “grille” or such accoutrement that one would expect of such a popular rap artist.
It was late. JD addressed the hyped up audience that was packed together in fog of sweat, “THE YING YANG TWINS ARE ABOUT TO ROCK THE STAGE, RIGHT NOW!” Screams of excitement echoed from every corner. I was perched in my chair, watching the frenzied crowd and bouncing colored lights. Kaine was grinning at me again, his smile was warm and kind, “alright den” he said excitedly before taking another gulp from the squat Patron bottle, then hoisting himself onto the stage division and turning toward the crowd, which yelled louder which each passing second. He stood right in front of me, obscuring my view. I turned to look at D-Roc, who went down the three side stairs to the VIP area, at the same time that Kaine jumped onto the stage.
The duo took the crowd by storm, cycling through all their hits, “Salt Shaker”, “Wait (The Whisper Song), and “Get Low” before performing new material. Kaine crawled along the floor at one point in the show, to the fanatical response of the crowd. They executed suggestive hip rolls and pelvic thrusts, in perfect unison during “Wait” and at this were shrouded with undergarment ranging from brassieres to G-strings. Kaine picked up a pair of lacy panties from the stage with a towel; he turned around and made eye contact with me, shaking his head in amusement while holding them in his grip. By now, it was 1:30 a.m., they were close to finishing their thirty minute set and D-Roc was addressing the crowd, before the last song.
I reluctantly rose to leave. While D-Roc was talking into the mic, I reached down and tapped Kaine on the shoulder, “I’m leaving, now, I’ve got to go!” Shirtless and sweating, he reached out to shake my hand, “alright you leavin?” he shouted above the din. As I exited the VIP area, I stopped for one last glance toward the stage. I was smiling as I descended the tri-level stair case, “YING YANG, YING YING, YING YANG! HHAAAAAAAAAEEEGGGHHH!” I could hear them shouting in unison into the microphones, as I made my way to the city street.
Photographs courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/DarkPearlPhotography