Why? (styled as WHY?) is an American alternative hip hop and indie rock band.
The band was founded in 2004 by Berkeley, California artist Jonathan "Yoni" Wolf, who had been using 'Why?' as his stage name since 1997.
In 2004, Yoni Wolf enlisted his older brother Josiah, Doug McDiarmid, and Matt Meldon and formed Why?. At this time, he stopped using 'Why?' as his personal stage name.
Why? released their debut album Elephant Eyelash in 2005. The album deviated considerably from the sound of Yoni Wolf's final solo project under the Why? moniker, the 2003 album Oaklandazulasylum, expanding to the sound of a full indie rock band. The group toured much of 2005 in support of the album as a four-piece. By the time of their May 2006 tour with Islands, the group had become a three-piece because Matt Meldon moved to an island off the coast of Seattle to live with his girlfriend. In 2008, the group added bassist Austin Brown to their lineup, making them a four-piece once again.
For their second album Alopecia, Why? asked the 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 Yoni 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.
Mumps, Etc.,their fourth album, was released on October 9, 2012.
In 2013, the band released an EP entitled Golden Tickets on the Joyful Noise label. The Golden Tickets EP is "a collection of personalized 'theme songs' for and about seven specific WHY? fans. Over the course of several months, Yoni and Josiah Wolf internet-stalked these fans for the purpose of crafting musical homages which would end up on this album." One track on the album focuses on an individual's Twitter feed, while Dropjaw lipreads the verbal meanderings of a fan who sent them a soundless video of himself talking into a camera.
In their arrangements, Why? leans more toward folk and indie rock, as opposed to the more hip hop styling of their label-mates in Anticon. Their lyrics also tend to be very impressionistic, focusing more on imagery and effect than on any narratival or logical sequence.
Yoni Wolf has released many albums as a member of groups including cLOUDDEAD, Reaching Quiet, and Hymie's Basement. From 1997 to 2003, he released numerous solo projects and collaborated extensively with Doseone. Yoni Wolf has also produced tracks for other rappers. 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.
In 2005, Doug McDiarmid released a solo EP under the name J.D. Wenceslas.
In 2003, Josiah Wolf released his debut solo EP entitled The Josiah EP. In 2010, he released his first solo album, Jet Lag on Anticon.
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