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April 16, 2014

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Yo Yo: Still Reigning 'Supreme'

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By Karu F. Daniels, BlackVoices.com


Female rap luminary Yo Yo will hop back into the national media limelight with the new reality series 'Miss Rap Supreme,' which will seek out to find the next great lady emcee.

Hosted by rap veteran Michael "MC Serch" Berrin, the show – officially titled 'ego trip's Miss Rap Supreme' – will debut April 14 on VH1. It promises to be a lively and engaging off-shoot of last year's wildly popular series, 'The (White) Rapper Show,' which chronicled the antics of aspiring Caucasian rappers pitted against each other in 'Apprentice'-like fashion.

For 'Miss Rap Supreme,' 10 femmes fatale will compete for a $100,000 prize, and the new title of "Miss Rap Supreme." The budding hip-hop divas have to find a way to make it through challenges that will test their sex appeal, stage presence and, of course, their mental toughness and creativity.

Yo Yo (real name: Yolanda Whitaker) has been tapped to school the young women and guide them through the rough waters of the rap game.


The quintessential female voice who truly represented what the west coast rap experience was like during the 1990s, Yo Yo jumped at the opportunity.

And for good reason too.

"Shining light on female emcees has always been needed, and something that I've always wanted to help do," says the stalwart ambassador for women in hip-hop.

"This is an opportunity to do just that. The title of 'Miss Rap Supreme' will be the answer to "some young girls dream." (Did that just rhyme?)

She was Introduced to the masses as a protégé of west coast hip-hop kingpin Ice Cube during the female rap explosion of the late 1990's – where emcees such as Roxanne Shante, Salt N' Pepa, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah reigned supreme. While all of them made indelible impressions in the rap community, Yo Yo was a west coast sister to be reckoned with.

And with Ice Cube and N.W.A. blowing up the way they were on the charts, a new entry was inevitable.

She first appeared as a guest on Cube's 'AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted' album in 1990, which made way for her critically praised debut (1991's 'Make Way for the Motherlode'), which yielded the single 'You Can't Play With My Yo-Yo.'.

Like a force of nature, Yo Yo descended onto the hip-hop scene – bleached blond braids, tight jeans and attitude to boot. And everyone -- who was anyone -- who came into contact with her just couldn't get enough of her.

Signed to east west/Atco records, her music career was cultivated by music industry titan Sylvia Rhone, who also handled the careers of EnVogue, Gerald Levert, Das Efx, Adina Howard and many hit-makers of the 1990s.

Yo Yo appeared in John Singelton's seminal 1991 film 'Boyz N The Hood,' The Hughes Brothers' beloved 1993 masterpiece 'Menace II Society' and in many other "hood" flicks. She even had a recurring role on the hit FOX series 'Martin' – as Keylolo, the sidekick of comedian Martin Lawrence's alter ego, Sheneneh.

In most recent years, the still-bleach blond beauty became a mother of two beautiful girls (Tiffany and Sanai), worked on completing her college degree, studied at the Lee Strasberg acting school in New York City and even taught at her former high school (Washington Prep).

Professionally, for the past three years she has served as a radio personality on the Los Angeles hip-hop station K-DAY (93.5 FM) and performed a host of voice-overs for video-games and rapped theme songs for television shows.

"So in the words of Jay-Z, 'I'm everywhere, you ain't never there,'" she quipped.

With all things considered, the rap game is not what it used to be -- for anyone who rose to prominence during the 1990s heyday.

So how does 'Miss Rap Supreme' fit into the scheme of things when it seems that all of the more renowned female lyricists of the moment are having more success with criminal records than rap records?

Is there a place for female rappers nowadays?

"Are you serious?" Yo Yo, who has partnered with MC Lyte to found the Let Your Light Shine Foundation (a camp for young girls) countered. "Will bees ever stop needing honey?," she continued. "There will always be a place for female emcees. Of course we need more support, attention, artist development and more doors open; but given the right leadership, I believe we'll start to see more development."

"Women are so independent that we sometimes lose out from not teaming up! Oh, but there is a need ... Just watch the show on VH1 April 14and you'll see!"

Clever segue.

And what about your rap career? Is it over?

"I won't ever say it's over, because once an artist always an artist," she maintained. "I just needed a way to create something bigger than me. I sometimes feel like every time I go back to music – it's my fear making me feel that's all I have to give!"

"We'll I've been there. Done that! I want my Fearless/YoYo Music [production/ management company] to be the group that discovers the next female superstar - the next "best kept secret" I want to help discover raw talent."

With this new turn at "celeb-reality," Yo Yo may just succeed at that monumental task.




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