Home Life, Music, Personality Yo! Majesty

Yo! Majesty

She’s got that “Kryptonite Pussy,” and if your ears were working in 2007, you know what I’m talking about. Shunda K is the heart and soul of lesbian electro hip-hop duo Yo! Majesty. The aforementioned signature track was probably on a mix some chick from Berlin sent you last summer, or maybe it was those DJs from Toronto. Or did you read that review here in BPM last summer that said they single-handedly saved the Øya Festival in Norway? Or maybe you heard about their show last February at the Echo in Los Angeles, when they got so pumped about the crowd that they ripped off their shirts. Who can help but pay attention?

Yo! Majesty’s intermingling of electro and hip-hop elements was enough to get the attention of Domino Records, which signed the group to its USA label. Goldenvoice booked the duo for a slot at Coachella 2008, and a number of other festival bookers followed. There’s just no one else out there raw enough to put a beat to HIV, like the ladies do with “Hit It and Quit It.” And while there’s all kinds of apathy out there, there’s really nothing like the ladies’ “Club Action” with lyrics, “fuck that shit/fuck that shit” (chanted on a loop). The group had a full tour scheduled for the summer and beyond to support the release of the single “Kryptonite Pussy,” and their forthcoming album Futuristically Speaking: Never Be Afraid.

All seemed to be going well for the group on the surface, but anyone who was at that show at Coachella could tell that something was up. This was not the same shirt-ripping energy we had come to know. There was something heavier in the air. The energy was off. A short time after the Coachella show, the duo performed at the Sonar Festival in Barcelona for what may very well be the very last time anyone sees Shunda K and Jwl B, the duo known as Yo! Majesty.

Jwl B found herself overwhelmed with emotions related to serious personal issues that no one is talking about. At the end of a series of disagreements, she decided to take some time to herself and return to Florida. The pair parted ways, and Shunda finished out the remaining dates of the summer solo. Appearing onstage alone under the Yo! Majesty banner, Shunda K addressed a confused crowd at West Hollywood’s Troubadour at a show in July: “Ya’ll are probably thinkin, ‘What the fuck?,’” she said, as she grabbed the microphone. The crowd was a little confused at first, but Shunda brought it hard. The gospel-charged vocals of Jwl B were missing, but not missed, as Shunda shook the whole house down that Saturday night.

Shunda has said that the label has shown no support for Jwl B’s personal issues, that she made numerous pleas that they get her some help before the problem blew up. And despite the huge success of the single, she has made her position clear. “I told the label that I was not doing anything else with Jewel until she got herself some medical treatment.” So, with heart and soul, Shunda K set out on her own. “Shunda K is the purest thing that I know right now. Yo! Majesty has pretty much been contaminated now. So Shunda K gotta carry on the mission, and I’m just gonna come together with people who have the same frame of mind and want to use their gifts and their musical talents in the right way, and not sit around and talk about a bunch of dumb shit,” she said.

For entertainers, the music industry is a series of uphill battles. A person with an eye on the spotlight can face an endless series of challenges on the road to fame. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier if you’re a lesbian from Plant City, Florida, and might as well be impossible if you’re opposed to selling out. Those rules certainly apply to entertainers, but Shunda’s focus is on her message of truth and education in reality rather than on some spotlight or fortune. “This is not about entertainment for me. I’m waking these people up, man. Our life is in a rut. The whole wide world is just fucked up right now. I’d rather start from the ground up than sell out and pretend to fake it to make it,” she said.

In an effort to graduate from the “contaminated” namesake and define herself as a solo artist, Shunda has been in the studio a lot lately. She just finished “Buck You Like A Billionaire,” which she recorded with Peaches. Beginning September 13, she is going to be playing a new night at the OS Art House in New York called LA di Da di: Rock the Party, and is planning a West Coast tour this fall. The world definitely hasn’t heard the last of Shunda K. And between the full-length album in October, and Jwl B rumored to have performed with a former member of the group at a festival show in Michigan, the world might not have heard the last of Yo! Majesty either.

Even Shunda sounds a little confused when she speaks about it, and rightfully so. The group is in the thick of a very serious conflict. After saying that she refuses to perform with Jwl B again, she is still cautious not to say it’s completely over. “I’m not just abandoning it. Legally, I own the name and stuff like that. We just trying to get everything worked out. I have retained management that can help me on behalf of my part in Yo! Majesty, and try and help all that move,” she said.

One thing is for sure: with Shunda at the helm, that sound you fell in love with won’t be compromised. She brings it for real or she brings it somewhere else. “We’ve gotta keep it movin’. The most important thing is the message. The songs I’m writing are very, very serious songs. For everybody that don’t have understanding, these songs will get them understanding,” she said.