Mr. Collipark talks Ying Yang Twins triumphant return
Ass in Session finds crunk rappers/producer returning to form
Throughout the aughts, hip-hop producer Mr. Collipark, aka DJ Smurf (born Michael Crooms), and Ying Yang Twins seemed an unstoppable force. Together with Lil Jon, the loose collective of producers and MCs defined Atlanta's chief musical export of the times: crunk. After a short-lived stint with Epic Records, Ying Yang Twins and Collipark have joined forces once again with a new mixtape, dubbed Ass in Session, featuring guest appearances by Kilo Ali, Bubba Sparxxx, and more. "Make It Jump," which premiered on Crib Notes this week, is the first single to leak, and it's a return to form that finds both Collipark and Ying Yang's Kaine and D-Roc doing what they do best: cranking out bombastic party anthems. Before the mixtape is unleashed to the public, Mr. Collipark took a few minutes to discuss Ying Yang's triumphant return.
Why reunite with Ying Yang Twins?
My rule is that I never look back. When I'm done with someone, I'm done. But what we did together is undeniable. Kaine and D-Roc are part of who I am. When I decided to get back into making beats, I thought, "Who's gonna rap on this? The guys that I started with." Let's take this journey together.
How did it start?
I went to two Ying Yang shows in Memphis and Myrtle Beach. Their crowds have grown much larger than when I was fucking with them. Now their shows are packed and it's almost all white people having the time of their lives! Ain't no other way to put it.
I said, "Y'all don't need a No. 1 record, you need a record that these people fuck with." We never felt pressure to make hit records. We just did it. Back in the day we could put out one song and it was the shit. Now we need a body of work. We're all old-school in our thinking; we sold records — millions of them. We're not used to giving away good music, so I said, "Whatever you have to offer, they'll support it. Let's do a mixtape." The crowd's reaction at those shows is what inspired "Make It Jump."
Why did you part ways?
We got tired of each other. As a soon-to-be CEO at the time, I looked to Ying Yang to carry everything Collipark forward, but they were kids. Resentment grew. My peer was Lil Jon, who was more sophisticated with branding. Kaine and D-Roc were enjoying life in the crunk moment and I wanted to think bigger. They wanted to do things a certain way, too, so we parted ways. In the end, one of the greatest musical experiences I've had was with Wyclef Jean. Our relationship wasn't the best, but a mutual admiration of Wyclef allowed us to go into the room and make "Dangerous."
You accomplished an awful lot together.
Watching them live, I had forgotten that the albums had three, four, five records that people fucked with heavy: Damn near gold album on Koch, two platinum albums on TVT, and we helped launch Pitbull with "Shake." Even Lil Jon wouldn't have been Lil Jon without Kaine and D-Roc. He was more commercial in his thinking than me; he came up under Jermaine Dupri, and that was some whole different shit. But the records they did together — "Salt Shaker," "Get Low" — were their biggest.
We were a big part of crunk, but you can't cry over spilt milk. If I were to tell you how "Get Low" came about, I would sound like a bitch. It would be true, but why do that? If you're talented, it speaks louder than anything else. Jon's low-tempo shit — "I Don't Give a Fuck" — ain't where the money came from. It was from "Yeah," "Get Low," "Freek-a-Leek." The tempo that got the money was 102, 100, 99. So we stripped away the energy, made it sexy, and had "Wait (the Whisper Song)." Then David Banner came in. Then "Ms. New Booty" with Bubba Sparxxx, and it killed everything — like exploited the whole shit.
"Fist Pump, Jump Jump" wasn't a crowd-pleaser, either.
On the outside looking in, I thought it was gonna work, but it's not them. Ying Yang set trends, they didn't follow them. Now, when they perform a record like "Pull My Hair," it don't go with fist pump. I said, "If we're going to do this, fuck it. Let's do us."
Why the Kris Kross nod in "Make It Jump."
D-Roc had done a record with Chris Kelly, which I did not know at the time. I didn't know the sentimental shit of it. Kaine told me that Chris went to the house and made a record, and that D-Roc shed tears when he died. When he heard "Make It Jump," D-Roc got so excited that he threw up right there on the floor. That's the emotion of an artist.
That's a powerful reaction.
People always took what we did as a joke, but there's an art form to it. You can't do what we did and have it still be relevant if it's a joke. Go search Twitter for Ying Yang right now and you'll find people talking about them affecting their lives.