Little, it seems, can stop the improbable Tampa-based female party - rap juggernaut that is Yo Majesty. Not even the occasional almost-implosion of the group itself. Early last summer, some undefined internal meltdown sent home half of the group, the gospel - trained vocalist - turned - rapper Jewel B. The duo'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 the group 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). Their sun-bleached Florida hometown simply wasn't ready, at Yo Majesty's inception, for tough women who rapped. On top of that, it certainly wasn't ready for tough women who rapped who were also outspoken lesbians and evangelical Christians, to boot.
Luckily that's the sort of very American uniqueness that goes down well in the U.K., 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 of skinny hipster kids around early 2007; similar tracks like "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 its steam. It seems that Jewel B and Shunda K are perhaps 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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SHOW ME HOW
The last time Yo Majesty came to town, in May 2008 at Studio A, about 10 people showed up. Next Wednesday's show is put on by Poplife, so perhaps their magical promotional juice will get more asses on the floor.
Also, click here to read Crossfade's interview with Shunda K from last year -- very open minds only, please.
Yo Majesty, with Natalie "the Floacist" Stewart. Tuesday, January 20, White Room, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 9 p.m.; tickets cost $10 in advance from www.wantickets.com. Ages 18+ with ID. 305-995-5060; www.epoplife.com.