Yo Majesty

Little, it seems, can stop the improbable Tampa-based female party-rap juggernaut that is Yo Majesty. Not even the occasional near-implosion of the group itself. Early last summer, some undefined internal meltdown sent home half of the group, 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 with the help of various special guests. Still, the two insisted the group hadn't broken up, even as they sometimes refused to conduct interviews or pose for photos together.

Nothing, however, has come easily for the group (which was originally a trio). Its 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 outspoken lesbians and evangelical Christians to boot. Luckily, that's the sort of very American uniqueness that goes down well in the U.K., 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 dance 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 followed, though. Yo Majesty's eagerly awaited debut full-length, Futuristically Speaking... Never Be Afraid, finally arrived through the U.K. 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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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo