Yo Majesty

Little, it seems, can stop the improbable Tampa-based female party-rap juggernaut Yo Majesty — not even the occasional near-implosion of the group itself. Early last summer, some undefined internal meltdown sent home half of the duo, the gospel-trained vocalist-turned-rapper Jewel B. The group's backbone, the verbose and sheerly ass-kicking Shunda K, somehow pulled off the rest of the tour by herself, with the help of various special-guest friends. Still, the two insisted they hadn't broken up, even as they sometimes refused to conduct interviews or pose for new photo shoots together.

Nothing, however, has come easy for the group (which was originally a trio). At Yo Majesty's inception, its sun-bleached Florida hometown simply wasn't ready for tough women who rapped. On top of that, it certainly wasn't ready for tough women who rapped and were also outspoken lesbians and Evangelical Christians. Luckily that's the sort of very American uniqueness that goes down well in the UK, the home of Yo Majesty's current producers, HardfeelingsUK, who discovered the group's music through the Internet. Thus was born an unlikely partnership that created the Yo Majesty sound, an electro-ish space bump interlaced with raunchy lyrics, all ready for the floor. "Club Action," the group's first real single, became a cult favorite among skinny hipster kids around early 2007; similar tracks, such as "Kryptonite Pussy," were later also well received.

A long (in blog years) gap in output soon followed, though. Yo Majesty's eagerly awaited debut full-length, Futuristically Speaking...Never Be Afraid, finally arrived through the UK imprint Domino last year, and the group has been working to regain steam. It seems Jewel B and Shunda K are on speaking terms again, or at least touring together, and their audience is broadening. "Now I see more black people coming to shows," Shunda told New Times last year. "In the beginning, [even we] weren't open to these tracks you're hearing now. That may be the case for the rest of the black community — they just gotta get used to it."


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