Yo-Yo (rapper)

Yolanda Whitaker, also known as Yo-Yo (born August 4, 1971)[1] is an American rapper and actress.

Yo yo-04.jpg
Yo-Yo in 1997
Yolanda Whitaker

(1971-08-04) August 4, 1971 (age 51)
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • actress
DeAndre Windom
(m. 2013; div. 2018)
Musical career
OriginSouth Central, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresWest Coast hip hop
Years active1989–present
LabelsEast West America

Much of Yo-Yo's music advocates female empowerment. She is the protégé of gangsta rapper Ice Cube. Yo-Yo has dubbed her crew the IBWC, Intelligent Black Woman's Coalition.[2]



Yo-Yo first appeared as a guest on Ice Cube's 1990 debut studio album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted on the track "It's a Man's World".[3] Cube returned the favor by appearing on "You Can't Play with My Yo-Yo", on Yo-Yo's 1991 debut album, Make Way for the Motherlode.[3] Each of the videos for the singles from the album were directed by Okuwah Garrett of Power Films.

Her follow-up album released in 1992, Black Pearl,[3] was well received by critics,[4] partly because of its focus on positive messages and uplifting themes that heavily contrasted with the popular gangsta rap style at the time.[4] Despite a plethora of renowned producers such as DJ Muggs, this failed to translate into a hit with mainstream hip-hop audiences, and the album's sales were considered a disappointment.[4]

Less than a year later, Yo-Yo released her follow-up album, titled You Better Ask Somebody.[3] The final track on the album was her third recorded hip-hop duet with Ice Cube, "The Bonnie and Clyde Theme".[3]

Yo-Yo's next album, Total Control, was released in 1996.[3] In 1998, Yo-Yo finished her fifth studio album, Ebony, though it was not released. In 2008, her single, "You Can't Play With My Yo-Yo" was ranked number 92 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs.[5] Later that year, she performed with MC Lyte, The Lady of Rage, and Salt-N-Pepa at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

As of 2009, Yo-Yo has been working on an EP, titled My Journey to Fearless: The Black Butterfly.[6]

In 2013, it was announced she joined the upcoming BET reality series Hip Hop Sisters which will focus on six female rappers' lives and their attempts to relaunch their careers.[7] Other rappers confirmed to appear are MC Lyte, Lady of Rage, Monie Love, Lil Mama, and Smooth.[8]


Yo-Yo appeared in the 1991 film Boyz n the Hood. She had a recurring role on the television show Martin as Keylolo, the sidekick to comedian Martin Lawrence's alter ego Sheneneh. Yo-Yo also appeared on other TV shows, including the Fox network's New York Undercover. She made a cameo appearance in the music video for Missy Elliot's "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)". She also appeared in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as the voice of Kendl Johnson.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Yo-Yo dated Tupac Shakur for some time in the 1990s. She was with Shakur in the hospital shortly before he died.[10] Later, Yo-Yo became engaged to DeAndre Windom, the former mayor of Highland Park, Michigan, in August 2012.[11] The two married on August 17,[12] 2013 in the Cayman Islands[13] and divorced in 2018.[14]

Yo-Yo has been active in advocating for hip-hop artists to become involved within their community. Notably, she testified in 1994 for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about whether the government should require rating labels on gangsta rap.[15] She also founded the Yo-Yo School of Hip-Hop to use hip-hop in curriculum for at-risk students.[16]


Studio albums



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Boyz n the Hood Herself
1993 Who's the Man? Woman
Menace II Society Girl at Party
Strapped Ann TV Movie
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Sondra
1994 Adventures of D.P. Boys 17: South of the Border Video
1995 Panther Pregnant Junkie
1997 Sprung Sista #3
Trials of Life Jennifer
1999 After Stonewall Herself Documentary
The Breaks Loretha
Beverly Hood Tilly
2000 3 Strikes Charita
2001 Longshot Herself
2002 Paper Soldiers Judge Prince [17]
2006 Da Jammies Mrs. Mangual (voice) Video short
Waist Deep Female Radio DJ (voice)
2010 The Wordz Project Herself Video Documentary
My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women and Hip Hop Herself TV Movie Documentary
2011 The Power of Words Herself Documentary
2016 Janitors Herself


Year Title Role Notes
1992-98 Soul Train Herself 3 Episodes
1993-95 Martin Keylolo Recurring Cast: Season 1, 3
1995 New York Undercover Nikki Episode: "You Get No Respect"
1996 Moesha Security Guard Episode: "A Concerted Effort: Part 1"
1997 The Parent 'Hood Audrey Episode: "When Robert Met Jerri"
1998 The Jamie Foxx Show Kierston Episode: "Passenger 187"
2005 Ego Trip's Race-O-Rama Herself TV Series Documentary
2006 3rd Annual VH1 Hip-Hop Honors Herself TV Special
2007 Parallel Paths Herself TV Series
2008 Baisden After Dark Herself Episode: "Getting Lazy After Marriage"
Ego Trip's Miss Rap Supreme Herself/Co-Host TV Series
The Greatest Herself Episode: "100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs"
2011 Way Black When: Primetime Herself Episode: "Episode #1.12"
2015 Da Jammies The Real Rosanne (voice) Episode: "Old School"
2016 VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens Herself TV Special
2018 Unsolved Pretty Woman Episode: "Wherever It Leads"
2019 Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood Herself Main Cast: Season 6

Video GamesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2004 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Kendl Johnson (voice)

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award
1995 MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best Rap Video for "I Wanna Be Down" (Remix) (featuring Brandy, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah)[citation needed]
1996 Grammy Award nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Duo or Group for "Stomp"[citation needed]




  1. ^ Ron Wynn (August 4, 1971). "Yo-Yo | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  2. ^ "SUMMER SPLASH III". (May 26, 1991). L.A. Times, p. 50
  3. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 372/3. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  4. ^ a b c Abdul-Adil, Jaleel (August 1, 1993), "Yo Yo and MC Lyte Turn Tables on Male Rappers", Chicago Sun-Times, p. 9
  5. ^ "VH1′s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs". Stereogum. September 29, 2008. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  6. ^ "Lifestyle | Icons Speak: YoYo Talks Keri Hilson, Female Emcees, more". Singersroom.com. January 6, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  7. ^ "MC Lyte to Executive Produce 'Hip Hop Sisters' on BET". Black Enterprise. June 12, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  8. ^ "@VIBEVixen» BET Announces 'Hip Hop Sisters' and Jeanette Jenkins Reality Series » Madison Lafayette". Vibevixen.com. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Jones, Francis. "Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (album review 3)". sputnikmusic.com. Sputnik Music. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  10. ^ "Unsung". TVOne. September 21, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  11. ^ Blackman, Ritch (August 24, 2012). "Rapper Yo Yo Engaged To Highland Park, Mi Mayor". UnsungHipHop. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "Facebook". Facebook.com. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  13. ^ Sylk, Sam (2013). "Yo Yo's Husband, Mayor DeAndre Windom, Shot In Detroit Nightclub". WZAK. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "MC Lyte, Yo-Yo & Remy Ma Featured in New Episode of OWN's 'Girlfriends Check-In' [Video]". July 17, 2020.
  15. ^ "Free Speech for Rappers". The Progressive. 58 (4): 9. April 1994 – via ProQuest Central.
  16. ^ "Compton Artist YoYo Gives Students Hip-Hop Education". NBC Southern California. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  17. ^ "Full cast and crew for Paper Soldiers (2002)". IMDb. Retrieved June 2, 2013.

External linksEdit