In 2000, BET executives felt they were taking a chance on Nelly and his St. Louis twang. (This is the same Nelly who would go on to sell 9 million copies of his debut album, Country Grammar.) The South had already had much hip-hop success, but coastal media elites still believed Outkast to be regional; Cash Money and No Limit, flukes. So if people couldn’t understand Nelly, they were less than enthused about Atlanta’s Ying Yang Twins and their distinct sound.
The Ying Yang Twins may not get the credit they feel they deserve — something noted on their new song, “Thundercat,” a team-up with Mad Decent DJ duo Pyramid Scheme. (The opening bars — over a snapping beat — are “Fuck you, nigga, you don’t like us/But you wish you had a clique just like us.”) Twins D-Roc and Kaine have a point, considering that they popularized twerking 15 years ago, heightened the importance of the ad-lib and, perhaps most oddly, collaborated with Adam Levine before Kanye did.
It’s hard to persist in the game for any amount of time, but the Ying Yang Twins are back after an extended period and are ready to fight for their place in history.
First of all, Pyramid Scheme are Atlanta guys — they did a song with Trinidad Jame$ — but I don’t know if they’ve been to Big Daddy’s on Old National Highway. What do you guys connect on?
Kaine: One of the guys in Pyramid Scheme actually worked at the Zone, one of the studios we did a lot of our recording in for our first three albums. Pyramid Scheme is made up of Adam and a gentleman by the name of Sterling. Adam used to engineer a lot of our sessions when we did the Thug Walkin’ LP. That was where the whole Pyramid Scheme came into play with the Ying Yang Twins. We were already knowing Adam.
Did you guys ever fall out of contact or did you always stay in touch?
Kaine: Uh, no. We ain’t never lose contact, everybody was always just a call away, man.
At what point were you like, “Oh, you’re not just an engineer, you’re doing this EDM thing?”
Kaine: I don’t know how long Adam and Sterling have been working on the Pyramid Scheme thing, but I know he was always dealing with music with us. I know any type of job he was gonna have, it was gonna be based upon his love of music. In music, you might start out being a runner… as in, you might be asked to run to the store. Any time of day! It might mean you’re gonna be a videographer at the end of the day. You’ve gotta be ready to transition when they call you.
D-Roc: I can say, back when he was engineering our projects we were working on, he kind of put his feel in that he was interested in not just being an engineer for the longest time. ‘Cause you know, he could say, “Oh, you could say ‘pusha in the hood’ like this.” So that’s the first time I could see him going to step up. When he met Sterling, I think that’s when the transition came about. When he was like, “I could do this on this end; you could do this over there. We put that together? And we got a Pyramid Scheme.”