Yoni Wolf

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yoni Wolf
Yoni Wolf performing with Why? in Brussels in 2010
Yoni Wolf performing with Why? in Brussels in 2010
Background information
Birth nameJonathan Avram Wolf
Also known asWhy? (1997–2004)
Born (1979-04-30) April 30, 1979 (age 44)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Years active1997–present

Jonathan Avram "Yoni" Wolf (born April 30, 1979) is an American alternative hip hop and indie rock musician and co-founder of the record label Anticon.[1]

From 1997 until 2004, Wolf released music under the stage name Why?. In 2004 he transferred that name onto his newly founded band. Thereafter he has been credited for his solo work as Yoni Wolf.

Prior to the founding of the band Why? in 2004, Wolf had also been a member of numerous other groups, including Greenthink, Object Beings, Clouddead, Reaching Quiet and Hymie's Basement.


Wolf was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Messianic Jewish parents.[2] Before his first year in high school, he discovered an old 4-track in his father's synagogue and began to experiment musically. His forays into rapping, drumming, and poetry followed.

In 1997, while attending art school at the University of Cincinnati, Wolf met fellow student Adam Drucker, aka Doseone, at the semifinals of Scribble Jam. Along with Doseone, Mr. Dibbs and his brother Josiah Wolf, he formed the live improvisational group Apogee. The partnership of Wolf and Doseone continued for many years under many guises.

Yoni Wolf performing with Why? in Brussels in 2010

In 1998 the duo released the album It's Not Easy Being... under the name Greenthink. In 1999, with an expansive roster of featured guests, they released the second Greenthink record Blindfold, after which they expanded to a trio with the addition of producer Odd Nosdam and adopted the name Clouddead. In the same year Wolf released his first solo album under the name Why?, entitled Part Time People Cage... or Part Time Key?.

Beginning in 2000, Clouddead released a series of six 10" vinyl singles on Mush Records. In 2001 these singles were compiled on CD and released as the group's self-titled debut album.

Following the release of his album Oaklandazulasylum in 2003, Wolf enlisted Josiah Wolf on drums, Matt Meldon on guitar, and Doug McDiarmid as a multi-instrumentalist. Wolf decided to transfer his alias onto the new band, and Why? was officially formed.

In 2005, Why? released their debut album Elephant Eyelash. The album deviated considerably from the sound of Wolf's prior solo work. The group toured much of 2005 in support of the album as a four-piece. However, by the time of their May 2006 tour with Islands, the group had become a three-piece, as Meldon moved to an island off the coast of Seattle to live with his girlfriend.[3]

For their second album Alopecia, Why? asked their fans to contribute photographs of their palms for the album's artwork. They released "The Hollows" as the first single, with two different European and US versions, featuring remixes and covers by Boards of Canada, Xiu Xiu, Dntel, Half-handed Cloud, Dump and Islands. Alopecia was released in 2008 to very positive reviews.

In 2009, Why? released their third album Eskimo Snow. The ten songs on the album were recorded during the Alopecia sessions and are described by Wolf as "the least hip-hop out of anything I've ever been involved with."[4]

On June 27, 2012, the band announced via Stereogum that they would be releasing their new EP Sod in the Seed on August 13 on City Slang. In the same article they premiered the title track. The song is more upbeat than any of the tracks on Eskimo Snow and contains rapping, which had been absent on the previous album.[5] The band released their fourth album, Mumps, Etc. on October 9, 2012.[6]

Wolf often collaborates with rapper Serengeti. Between 2011 and 2012, Wolf produced and co-produced Serengeti's albums, Family & Friends and C.A.R.[7][8] In 2016, the duo toured under the name Yoni & Geti after the release of their album Testarossa.[9] Subsequently, Wolf returned to writing, producing, and touring with his original band Why?. The group released their critically acclaimed album Moh Lhean in 2017[10] and AOKOHIO in 2019.[11]  The band attracts audiences across the US due to a moderately-sized, extremely loyal fan base. While touring, Wolf interviews friends and artists for his podcast, The Wandering Wolf.[12]


Wolf has produced tracks for other MCs. He produced several tracks for fellow Anticon co-founder Pedestrian's album Volume One: UnIndian Songs in 2005. He also produced several tracks for Serengeti's album Family and Friends, as well as providing backup vocals, in 2011.[13] Wolf's collaboration with Serengeti continued through 2016 with the release of their joint-album Testarossa. Wolf produced LaLa LaLa's 2021 album I Want The Door To Open.[14] He has released singles with LaLa LaLa,[15] Foxing,[16] and several other bands.

Wolf has released many albums as a member of groups including Reaching Quiet, Hymie's Basement, Miss Ohio's Nameless and Object Beings. He has collaborated with Doseone, Odd Nosdam, Fog among others. In 2017, he convinced his label to put out The Ophelias' debut LP, and he produced their sophomore LP, Almost, the following year which was also released on Joyful Noise.

Personal life[edit]

Wolf suffers from Crohn's disease and many of his lyrics describe his efforts to cope with the illness.[17]

Selected discography[edit]



  • Part Time People Cage... or Part Time Key? (1999) (as Why?)
  • Oaklandazulasylum (2003) (as Why?)


Clouddead (Yoni Wolf with Doseone & Odd Nosdam)

Greenthink (Yoni Wolf with Doseone)

  • It's Not Easy Being... (1998)
  • Blindfold (1999)

Other collaborations


  1. ^ Fortune, Drew (December 15, 2010). "Why?: Hip Hop's Lyrical Transient". ALARM Magazine. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012.
  2. ^ Ben Ari, Gon (July 3, 2009). "Why Not". 7 Nights, Yedioth Ahronoth.
  3. ^ "SOUTHERN | news > feature > album review - why? Elephant eyelash (Anticon.)". Archived from the original on July 6, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  4. ^ Tom Breihan (May 29, 2009). "WHY?'s Yoni Wolf Reveals New Album: Eskimo Snow". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on May 30, 2009. Retrieved May 30, 2009.
  5. ^ Goble, Corbin (June 27, 2012). "WHY? - "Sod in the Seed"". Stereogum. Archived from the original on August 30, 2012.
  6. ^ Battan, Carrie (July 30, 2012). "WHY? announce new album, Mumps, etc". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on September 12, 2013.
  7. ^ "Serengeti: Family and Friends". Pitchfork.
  8. ^ "C.A.R." Archived from the original on 2019-09-27. Retrieved 2023-09-30.
  9. ^ "Yoni & Geti: Testarossa". Pitchfork.
  10. ^ "WHY?: Moh Lhean". Pitchfork.
  11. ^ "WHY? // AOKOHIO // Joyful Noise Recordings | Joyful Noise Recordings".
  12. ^ "Home". thewanderingwolfpodcast.com.
  13. ^ Zach Kelly (July 21, 2011). "Serengeti – Family and Friends". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  14. ^ "Lala Lala announces new album & tour dates, shares "DIVER"". 13 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Watch WHY?'s Yoni Wolf and Lala Lala's Lillie West Run Around Cincinnati in Music Video for Collaborative Single, "Siren 042"".
  16. ^ "Foxing return with the epic drama of "Speak with the Dead" featuring WHY?'s Yoni Wolf | Beats per Minute". 19 March 2021.
  17. ^ Plasternack, Alex. "Just To Be Grounded: An Interview with Yoni Wolf". Vice. Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2014.

External links[edit]