Ying Yang Twins stepping up the music, branching out

The Ying Yang Twins, Kaine and D-Roc

The Ying Yang Twins, Kaine and D-Roc

‘A Very Crunk Christmas’ with The Ying Yang Twins

10 p.m. Friday at Newby’s. 539 S. Highland. Cover: $15. For more information, call 901-452-8408 or visit newbysmemphis.com

Friday's show at Newby's by Atlanta hip-hop duo The Ying Yang Twins is billed as a Christmas celebration, but according to the group's D-Roc, he and partner Kaine are looking at it like any other performance, which is always a party no matter the time of year.

"I don't know if Santa is going to be there. Well, he might bring a couple of hoe, hoe, hos," says D-Rock of the show, which is hosted by 101.9 Radio Now personality Jiggy and also features sets by locals DJ Charlie White, DJ Crumbz, and DJ Ben Murray. "How I look at it is, I'm just going to come through and crank it up."

That's not to say The Ying Yang Twins do not come bearing gifts. The pair recently released a new single, "Fist Pump, Jump, Jump," with guest artist Greg Tecoz. Produced by Grammy winner Red One (Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj), the track represents the duo's return to the hip-hop scene after almost three years.

"Our focus right now is getting the music back out there," says D-Roc. "Everybody's been saying the same thing, 'Y'all ain't been out there in a little bit.' I'm about tired of hearing that. Let me get all in your ears then."

D-Roc, born De'Angelo Holmes, first met Eric Jackson, aka Kaine, when they were teenagers growing up in Atlanta. The aspiring rappers had been hearing about each other through friends when they finally met on the street one day and, according to D-Roc, started rapping on the spot.

The Ying Yang Twins broke out in 2000 with their first record, Thug Walkin', featuring the crunk hit "Whistle While You Twurk." After the disappointing Alley: The Return of the Ying Yang Twins in 2002, the next year the duo signed with TVT records where they hooked up with fellow Atlanta rapper Lil Jon. The latter featured the Twins on the smash track "Get Low" off his 2003 album with The East Side Boyz, Kings of Crunk.

The same year, The Ying Yang Twins released their platinum-selling Me & My Brother, featuring Lil Jon on two tracks, including "Salt Shaker," a lascivious — some might say just plain vulgar — Top 10 club anthem that must have caused some poor sound engineer fits when he tried to edit it for radio.

Three more Ying Yang Twins studio albums followed, with the last being 2009's Chemically Imbalanced. Now the two are plotting their return, with a plan to break out of the Southern rap underground into mainstream ubiquity. The next step is the release of a new mix tape, How We Party, sometime around the New Year. Then in 2013 fans can expect a new studio album that will build on the new, more mature brand of party anthem they debuted on "Fist Pump, Jump, Jump."

"We're keeping to the same music that we make, it's just a little bit more family than we were thinking when were younger," says D-Roc, who cites pop duo LMFAO as an influence on the new single. "My kids enjoy listening to them, so I was like, Let me make one, too.'"

The Ying Yang Twins are looking to branch out beyond music, however. They are in talks to develop a couple of reality television shows, and D-Roc was recently offered a film role, a more substantial part than the duo's appearance in the 2004 cult comedy "Soul Plane."

And the pair's ambitions don't stop there.

"We're trying to make Ying Yang a brand," says D-Roc. "I want a couple of things in your house other than just a record."

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