Yoni Wolf performing with Why? in Brussels in 2010
|Birth name||Jonathan Avram Wolf|
|Also known as||Why? (1997–2004)|
|Born||April 30, 1979|
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Associated acts||Why?, Greenthink, Clouddead, Reaching Quiet, Hymie's Basement, Miss Ohio's Nameless, Apogee|
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.
Wolf was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Messianic Jewish parents. 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.
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?.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
- Part Time People Cage... or Part Time Key? (1999) (as Why?)
- Oaklandazulasylum (2003) (as Why?)
Greenthink (Yoni Wolf with Doseone)
- It's Not Easy Being... (1998)
- Blindfold (1999)
- Object Beings (2001) (with Doseone & Pedestrian, as Object Beings)
- In the Shadow of the Living Room (2002) (with Odd Nosdam, as Reaching Quiet)
- Hymie's Basement (2003) (with Andrew Broder, as Hymie's Basement)
- Divorcee (2014) (with Anna Stewart, as Divorcee)
- Testarossa (2016) (with Serengeti, as Yoni & Geti)
- Fortune, Drew (December 15, 2010). "Why?: Hip Hop's Lyrical Transient". ALARM Magazine. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012.
- Ben Ari, Gon (July 3, 2009). "Why Not". 7 Nights, Yedioth Ahronoth.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 6, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- 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.
- Goble, Corbin (June 27, 2012). "WHY? - "Sod in the Seed"". Stereogum. Archived from the original on August 30, 2012.
- Battan, Carrie (July 30, 2012). "WHY? announce new album, Mumps, etc". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on September 12, 2013.
- Plasternack, Alex. "Just To Be Grounded: An Interview with Yoni Wolf". Vice. Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- Zach Kelly (July 21, 2011). "Serengeti – Family and Friends". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.