Blaming the lack of female MCs on a void in female leadership and mentors, rap pioneer Yo-Yo says she's excited about reshaping the future as co-host of VH1's upcoming new series, "ego trip's Miss Rap Supreme." ( Billboard )
Premiering April 14, the eight-episode "Miss Rap Supreme" follows up ego trip's 2007 exploration of another disenfranchised rap subset on VH1, "The (White) Rapper Show." It was hosted by Michael "MC Serch" Berrin, who returns as host of "Miss Rap Supreme" with Yo-Yo. Ten budding female MCs will reside in the "Fembassy" (a hotel designed in tribute to major figures in female rap) as they tackle various challenges in the quest to be crowned Miss Rap Supreme and take home $100,000.
"I don't think we've had the right leadership or direction," explains Yo-Yo when asked about the plight of the female rapper. The Los Angeles native, born Yolanda Whitaker, scored her biggest R& B/pop crossover single (No. 11 R& B, No. 36 pop) with "You Can't Play With My Yo-Yo" in 1991.
"Women can be catty especially when it comes to competition," she continues. "We know they're only going to allow so many of us in and once we're in, we let them pit us against each other. I was there at one time until I thought, 'Hey, there's room for us all.' There's just not enough sisterhood. I'm 36 now and thank god I have another opportunity to get my name out in the public and use this to do other things."
Those other things include running the L.A.-based youth empowerment organization, Let Your Light Shine Youth Foundation, co-founded by Yo-Yo and fellow female rap icon MC Lyte. Raising funds for educational scholarships and other youth-oriented programs, the foundation recently hosted its second annual "Super Party" fundraiser on Feb. 3.
A former air personality at Los Angeles radio station KDAY for three years, Yo-Yo is looking for another radio gig and teaching a lyrics class for the Thelonius Monk Institute at her high school alma mater, Washington Prep.
While she plans to work on soundtracks and other music-related ventures, Yo-Yo is intent on becoming the next Sylvia Rhone, who heads Universal Motown. "I'm like 'The Alchemist,'" says Yo-Yo. "I will forever do something with music but I want to be an entrepreneur and build an empire; discover new talent and give back what I've learned and know. 'Miss Rap Supreme' digs deep and sheds a lot of light on the problems female rap artists are having."