Yo! Majesty, live at Harpers Ferry, January 28, 2009
It was an uncomfortable moment when Yo! Majesty took the stage — what, after all, is the quorum necessary for a show to go on when one-half of a hip-hop duo isn't there? Like Pepa sans Salt or Chuck D minus Flavor Flav, Y!M's Shunda K. nonchalantly informed us that her foil Jwl B. would be unable to attend "because she was incarcerated the week before this tour began." With that, the "band" lit into the set as if some kind of booty switch had been abruptly flipped.
Shunda K. of Yo! Majesty
Y!M's stock in trade is tight dual-attack rhyming forcefully placed over jam after jam of bottomless Miami bass. So you had to hand it to Shunda K. for going at it with double gusto to make up for the lack of a sparring partner. I was half-expecting the set to be littered with pauses and blocks of silence where Jwl B's parts should have been, but Shunda had done her homework for the set, and an untrained ear would probably not have noticed the missing parts of nascent classics like "Booty Klap" and "Kryptonite Pussy."
Shunda brought along two dancers — one male, one female — whose choreographed writhings enhanced the often smutty lyrics in unexpected ways, as though translating them into visuals of an almost Olympian male/female ideal. Or might I be overthinking the subtext of a man and a woman on stage doing simultaneous butt shimmies while Shunda K. pummels us with "Hit It and Quit It" over a mind-crushing crunk overload? Whatever your perspective, the evening suggested that (a) if/when Yo! Majesty roll back in town with both members of the group, it might be almost too much to handle, and (b) Shunda K. will have a pretty good leg up for her inevitable solo bow should her partnership with Jwl B. not survive the complications of this tour.
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