Tony Yayo

Real Name: Marvin Bernard
D.O.B.: March 31st, 1982 South Jamaica Queens, NY

Label: G-Unit/Aftermath/Interscope Records

T.O.N.Y. (Talk Of New York) Yayo is the shadowed third member of 50 Cent's New York rap group,G-Unit. Yayo has sometimes been looked over due to spending several stints in prison during the height of G-Unit's group recording fame. He has for the most part been left out of the group's media campaigning, however is and has always been a major member of the outfit.

The Early Years

Growing up with 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks, they formed the group G-Unit. They released several successful mixtapes together, slowly creating a buzz for themselves on the streets of New York. With the success of their mixtapes, Tony Yayo quickly made a name for himself in the rap circuit.

G-Unit was founded when childhood friends, Lloyd Banks, 50 Cent and Tony Yayo decided to make a group with each other. They met Young Buck when Cash Money group came to New York and 50 Cent heard Young Buck rapping. After 50 Cent signed his contract with Aftermath Entertainment they signed Young Buck. Fronted by 50 Cent, G-Unit quickly redefined the urban music industry back to gangsta rap. They produced a series of mixtape albums with original numbers and high quality artwork, making the discs something more than a bootleg, but not quite an independent release.

50 Cent was soon granted his own record label by Dr. Dre and released the album Get Rich or Die Tryin. Soon after the group had established their own record label, G-Unit Records, G-Unit released their first official group album Beg for Mercy in November of 2003, which went on to be certified 2x Platinum.

Free Yayo

On December 31, 2002, nearly a year before the release of G-Unit's highly anticipated album, Beg for Mercy, Tony Yayo was arrested along with 50 Cent on weapons-possession charges. During a background check, police discovered Yayo had an outstanding warrant for a previous weapons-possession charge. In early 2003, he was sentenced for bail jumping and would remain in jail until the beginning of 2004. As a result, he was unable to record for the album and was therefore only featured on two tracks that had been recorded before.

During Tony Yayo's imprisonment, G-Unit became increasingly popular. They started a campaign called "Free Yayo". Many G-Unit videos featured the group's members wearing "Free Yayo" t-shirts, but Yayo himself was unaware of the attention he was receiving. The prison inmates that Yayo shared a television with preferred watching sports rather than music videos. When Eminem and 50 Cent were scheduled to make an appearance during the Grammy Awards, he convinced everyone to change the channel. It was the first time he saw a "Free Yayo" shirt-this time worn by Eminem Inspired by the shirt, he started working extra hard on his rhymes while keeping in touch with the G-Unit crew who were letting him know that he would get his chance once he was a free man.

On January 8, 2004, Tony Yayo was released from prison, but after presenting a forged passport to his parole officer a day later, he was imprisoned again for a few weeks. Upon release, Tony Yayo was finally able to start work on his début album. Whilst working on his album, he was also recording on the G-Unit Radio mixtape series in which he announced his return on the street level.

Studio Albums

While his appearances on mixtapes announced his return on the street level, his summer hit "So Seductive" let the rest of the world know. In August, while his single was dominating urban radio, MTV, and BET, Yayo released his début, Thoughts of a Predicate Felon. The other singles that were released from this album were: "Curious", "Pimpin'", "Drama Setter", and "I Know You Don’t Love Me". 50 Cent is the executive producer and is also a featured artist on the album. G-Unit members also contribute with a verse to the album. The album was released on August 30, 2005. The album was generally well received by critics. Rolling Stone's Christian Hoard described the album as "a solid stopgap" and All Music Guide's David Jeffries called it "an album worth every G-Unit fan's attention"

I Am 50’s Tax Write-off is Tony Yayo's second album. The first promotional single was "It's a Stick Up", featuring Mazaradi FOX and Snoop From The Wire. A video was shot for that single and can be seen on Tony Yayo's MySpace page. In an interview with XXL, Tony Yayo commented on the album. He said:

"My second solo project, I wanna call it I Am 50's Tax Write-Off and the reason why I wanna do it is because it's the truth! Everytime 50 makes money, I make muthafuckin' money. He's the one that changed my life, he's the one that changed Buck life, he's the one that changed Banks' life."

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