Yo-Yo – Make Way For The Motherlode (March 19, 1991)

If you’re keeping track at home, place this one after Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury.

Make Way For The Motherlode is the debut album from the South Central based female emcee, Yo-Yo. In my review of her second album Black Pearl, I explained how she got her start with a cameo on Ice Cube’s debut solo album. Feel free to read up on that in detail by clicking here. Moving on…

Ice Cube and his right hand production man Sir Jinx, would handle all the production for Make Way For The Motherlode. While Cube, his cousin, Del The Funky Homosapien and a few others would lend their pens to writing a large chunk of Yolanda’s rhymes. Make Way For The Motherlode didn’t earn Yo-Yo any plaques, but it was well received by the fans and critics, alike. I’ve never listened to Make Way For The Motherlode before this review and really have only heard the lead single that made some noise back in ’91 when it came out (more on that song in a bit).

Without further adieu, let’s get into Make Way For The Motherlode.

Stand Up For Your Rights – Before the late comedian Ricky Harris would play DJ EZ Dick from WBalls on Snoop Dogg’s classic debut album Doggystyle, he was first The Smooth One from 103.9787 on Yo-Yo’s Make Way For The Motherlode (there’s a great hip-hop trivia question). After he introduces himself, the interlude then bleeds into a mash-up of callers calling into the radio station asking Yo-Yo for advice, over a loop from Stevie Wonder’s “Too High”. This all sets up the next song…

Stompin’ To Tha 90’s – The first song of the evening begins with a Bomb Squad-esque busy up-tempo backdrop. Yo-Yo sounds fresh and hungry (Del receives the writing credit for this one), as she introduces herself to the world over the energetic groove. Nice way to kick things off.

You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo – This was the lead single from Make Way For The Motherlode. Yo-Yo’s out to let anyone within earshot know that she’s not to be played with, and Ice Cube drops a co-sign as he handles hook duties. Cube and Jinx tap Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic “Devotion” record for the backdrop, and Hammi Wave adds some additional live instrumentation to make this sound even fresher, sonically. This song sounds as fresh today as it did nearly thirty years ago.

Cube Gets Played – Another short interlude with The Smooth One from 103.9787.

Put A Lid On It – Our host uses this one to warn her sisters to use protection when sexin’, before they wind up pregnant by a man who only wanted to smash and dash. Not a great song, but Yo-Yo’s rhymes and the Cube/Jinx instrumental sounds decent.

What Can I Do? – Before Def Jef would sample Gwen McCrae’s “90% Of Me” for fellow-female (is that an oxymoron?) rapper Boss’ dark classic record “Deeper”, Cube and Jinx would loop it up to help create this smooth backdrop for our host. Yo-Yo rides the instrumental nicely, and her mentor, Ice Cube, even stops by to lend his apprentice a vintage Cube verse, turning this into an entertaining affair. The live keys and bass over the McCrae loop give the song a nice jazz feel, which I found very enjoyable.

Dedication – This Short interlude has L.A. Jay calling in a song request to the Smooth One. Apparently, the Smooth One is a not only a radio host but also a mind reader, as he’s able to know what song L.A. Jay is requesting without Jay ever verbalizing what he wanted to hear. Ricky Harris, I mean, The Smooth One then proceeds to provide a little comic relief before introducing the next song…

Sisterland – Yo-Yo dedicates this one to her sister girls. She big ups herself and then calls for sisterhood, before warning her girls to watch out for the no good dogs out there. Cube and Jinx up-tempo backdrop is decent, but Yo-Yo struggles to find her footing on the track and ends up sounding rushed and out of breath by the end of the song.

The I.B.W.C. National Anthem – Cube and Jinx hook up a super smooth and melodic backdrop that sounds nothing like what I’m accustom to hearing from The Lench Mob. Yo-Yo lets her girls Diamond, Sparkles and Dawn (which all sound like strippers names except for Dawn) get a little mic time and speak on the IBWC’s purpose, or something like that. Yo-Yo then spits one short and sweet verse (I love her line “trying to ignore me is like you’re playing yourself, because if it wasn’t for woman you’d be laying yourself”) before getting the hell out of Dodge.

Make Way For The Motherlode – The title track finds Yo-Yo, once again, struggling to keep up with the frantic pace of the track, as her clarity, breath control and stamina are put to the test throughout this song. And she ultimately fails.

Tonight’s The Night – Yo-Yo invites her guest Dazzie Dee to join her on this duet. Her guest (who is also credit for writing the whole song) plays a horny young cat, who may be sincere about his feeling for Yo-Yo (or maybe his hormones are confusing his true feelings and intent), trying to convince her that the time is right for them to take their intimacy to the next level. Aka smash. Throughout the song, Dee gives reasons why they should have sex, and an unsure Yo-Yo questions and challenges him with her rebuttals. Brilliantly, the song ends without a resolution. I wasn’t a big fan of the uncredited vocalist on the hook, but the instrumental compliments Yo-Yo and Dazzie Dee’s conversation, pretty well.

I Got Played – Cube and Jinx jack the bass line from one of my favorite Bill Withers’ songs “Who Is He (And What Is He To You)?”, that Yo-Yo uses to recall with great detail, the time she fell for a dude who was just out to hit it and quit it. She gets a little tongue-tied during the middle of the song, but overall Yolanda does a pretty solid job with the storyline, and keeps it entertaining.

Girl, Don’t Be No Fool – Sticking with the getting played theme, our host warns the ladies to watch out for all those cheatin’ and beatin’ dogs out there, which seems to be a reoccurring theme on Make Way For The Motherlode. Not a bad song, just not as good as the last few songs.

Ain’t Nobody Better – The song begins with The Smooth One asking Yo-Yo how she feels about all her female competitors, and she spends the length of this song trying to stake her claim in this hip-hop game. Jinx and Cube mix a loop from Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” (a loop that Dr. Dre would soon fall head over heals for) with a vocal sample from Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and turn it into a solid backdrop.

Outro – The Smooth One makes his final appearance of the evening on this outro, which then leads into the next outro…

More Of What Can I Do – Sister Yolanda brings back the instrumental from “What Can I Do?” and lets Sir Jinx give his list of shoutouts. And we out.

With the exception of a few songs (i.e. “Sisterland” and the title track), Make Way For The Motherlode is a decent to solid debut from sister Yo-Yo. She tends to spend a little too much time focused on foul men and relationships, but thanks to Cube and Jinx consistently solid production, Make Way For The Motherlode entertains, even when are host doesn’t.


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