It seems today everybody’s twerking for the weekend. Now that America’s at a point where even Miley Cyrus is twerking and Jay-Z is shouting it out, it’s time to look back at the pioneers who paved the way for the twerk takeover. The Ying Yang Twins brought twerking to a national level with their breakthrough 2000 hit “Whistle While You Twurk” and, with the Twerkpocalypse upon us, have returned to take their rightful place on the Twerking throne with their new wonderfully titled mixtape Ass in Session. The Twins bring their all time twerking classics to the Gramercy Theater tomorrow, July 26th, and we had the tremendous (or is that twerk-mendous) fortune to speak with the Twins themselves, Kaine and D-Roc, on taking their twerk empire to the next level.
Congrats on Ass in Session, possibly the best named mixtape this year. Where did the title come from?
Kaine: We chose that title because when we came out we always made songs for the exotic clubs. Not only that, our songs are known to have high energy. Be that as it may, for the duration of time that we haven’t come out with a project, we had to come back strong in the lane that we truly own and are a part of, which is the party club life.
D-Roc: We had to come back for dat ass!
Kaine: We went on back and did this Ass in Session project on our own. The Ying Yang Twins reunited with Mr. Collipark. It ain’t never broke so we didn’t have to fix it.
You both were the trailblazers for twerking going back to 13 years ago. Being you were so ahead of the curve, do you recall being first introduced to twerking?
Kaine: Twerking was actually originally started in New Orleans. Bass music came to Atlanta from Florida. Everything is a reenactment once it’s been done before. What we did is we took the work “Twerk,” which was a New Orleans word meaning, if you were going to “twerk something” you were going to bust a move or if you were going to see the girls “twerk,” it means they were dancing in the club. What we did was take the word to the forefront.
D-Roc: Twerking has been going on in Atlanta since the beginning. We just gave it a name.
Kaine: The same thing that these street artists are doing with the credibility in Atlanta, and I’m being totally honest, the one thing they try to shy away from is–Atlanta is the home of booty shake music. That’s that home, there’s no way around that. A lot of the artists from Atlanta don’t like these type of songs in their repertoire, but we don’t care. It’s all fun and love and war and, all together, it’s a part of our culture whether artists want to acknowledge it or not. Those same clubs we talk about in “Whistle While You Twurk” were there when we were kids. It’s always been in Atlanta. Atlanta’s always had the no-top no-bottom everything showin’ everything goin’ strip clubs. We just put it on Front Street. While everybody talks about everything else in Atlanta, we talk about a true thing in Atlanta and twerking’s been a true thing in Atlanta ever since Luke brought it up from Florida.
D-Roc: Whoop, there it is. Hahn!
At what point did you realize twerking became a national phenomenon?
Kaine: By the time “Salt Shaker” came out. It was a wrap man. Didn’t nobody have no problems with hitting the dance floor and having fun. Everybody loves fun. If anybody’s talking negatively about our Ass in Session project, it’s because a whole generation has passed through. We haven’t put a project out since right before TVT went out of business. In all fairness, we are the pioneers of that lane, and it is the female lane and it is the lane that we own. No-one can imitate or duplicate the Ying Yang Twins because we are a true original.
D-Roc: Origi-nal! I’m my momma’s boy!
The second single off the mixtape is “Miley Cyrus,” which premiered on TMZ. Have you heard back from Miley?
D-Roc: Nope. I would say she has her own thing going on right now.
Kaine: We haven’t talked to Miley, but her slogan on her Twitter page is “I’m a dime that’s top of the line/ Cute face slim waist with a big behind,” so even if we don’t formally speak to Miley, we’ve spoken to Miley.
D-Roc: Let me clear this up. We were telling girls to twerk like Miley Cyrus is twerking. She wants that to be her image. People are wrong thinking we’re trying to get at Miley Cyrus. She can be Miley Cyrus, she can be Hannah Montana, she can be whoever the fuck she wants to be. But, because she wants to twerk, that’s why we said “alright, now do the Miley Cyrus with it.” She’s someone you never would think would twerk, so now that she is, do the Miley Cyrus with it. Because she isn’t the first white girl to start twerking.
Kaine: She’s the first with a name to do what she’s talking about. It’s no harm in partying and having fun until you exceed it.
D-Roc: It ain’t no fun if the white girls can’t have fun. Now Miley Cyrus with it!
Do you think there’s any misconceptions people have about you or your music?
Kaine: People have great misconceptions about D-Roc and myself. They literally think how we come off on songs or because my brother uses the word “Hahn” loosely and obnoxiously, they literally look at us like we don’t have any sense. No one has never dealt with us on a business aspect where we haven’t been able to conduct ourselves in front of people. We went on a USO tour with the soldiers for our great country, people didn’t know we had sense. We were there 17 days and didn’t sleep for a week. We stayed with the soldiers and they said “We didn’t have any weed or any alcohol here, and you still got them crunk!” People were actually mad because we aren’t sleeping or on any drugs and we’re hype as hell. It’s been a long time since people have seen an artist who can really put on a show. Me and D-Roc are just two guys from the hood who can go in, and that’s why we win with the people. We give them what they come to see. We believe in pleasing our customers, for real.
While you’ve had so many massive singles over the past 13 years, are there any album cuts of yours that you’re proud of which you wish were more well known?
Kaine: Yeah. The record we did with Adam Levine of Maroon 5 called “Live Again” about a girl who didn’t want to be a stripper no more. We came up with the record, D-Roc put the verses together and I put the hook together. Adam said he liked the hook the way it was and didn’t change any of the words, he just sung what we wrote. I think that record could have broke us out of just being known for massive club records and could have been the female record we made that put us in the lyricism category for being a part of the hip-hop culture instead of just the Southern culture. I think the Ying Yang Twins are destined to be a hot commodity in the hip-hop culture. Not just Southern culture or Southern rap. There’s no difference in our lyricism than any other artist that makes “Street credible” records [when considering] our lyrical content. But nobody’s really doing that these days, they just see what they want to hear.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 25, 2013