What Yelawolf is:
Hick-hop badass. Baby-faced genius. Devilishly gifted wordsmith. Rap's white lightning. He's listed on Celebrity Heights as 5'10" but in person he's more like 6'2". On the stage he exudes infectious confidence. You could say he's something like a postmodern cross between Rob Zombie and Kid Rock. He wears a mullet Mohawk. When he plays in the heat, he rips his shirt and pours water on his head. He works the stage like a stripper.
His face is childishly tame, and while it isn't bearded it somehow seems like it should be fully bearded. His onstage facial expression is stony but not unfriendly; it communicates the sense that Yelawolf is intensely focused on every emotion -- it's the same friendly-stony expression you'll see on the face of a classical pianist or a surgeon. He does get red in the face when he plays in the heat. The guy looks like he belongs on CMT.
What Yelawolf is not:a) Your average rapper
b) An average rapper
The issue of whether, and in what way, Yelawolf is similar to Eminem:
Advances in mind-broadening yoga techniques have rarely altered our desire to compare people based on superficial qualities. Something about Yelawolf keeps Eminem comparisons permanently in sight. He is signed to Em's Shady Records, after all. And like his boss, Yela has a knack for speed-rapping. Eminem's style, though, is a conduit for psychotic narratives about dumping his wife's body in the ocean or whatever sociopathic tendencies he's dreaming up that day; Yelawolf is more likely to document his rural Alabama childhood, as on "Slumarican Shitizen," a standout from his Shady Records debut, Radioactive.
Unlawful Things Yelawolf May (or May Not) Have Done That Are Mentioned on Radioactive :
Has cruised the dirt-roads of Alabama with a dead body in tow. Has left a dead body in the parking lot of a complex. Has pushed crystal meth. Has pushed crack. Has stolen automobiles. Has held illegal firearms. Has confabbed with ghosts. Just about every illicit activity you can think about falls within the ambit of a Radioactive lifestyle.
Where Radioactive Excels:
Yela is at his finest when spitting scatterbrain rhymes over trunk-rattling production. Trunk Muzik fans, hear this: there's plenty of Chevy-ready beats on Radioactive. Highlights include the "Hard White (Up in the Club)" which has an indefatigable Lil' Jon yelling out a disorienting blur of words and the Kid Rock-assisted "Let's Roll," a country-rock foray that works to perfection.Also: Radioactive pays homage to southern hip-hop in two ways--via the 808 patterns and synthesizer showers powering the album and via the odd cast of Southern rap veterans responsible for Yela's style.
Where Radioactive Fails:
Radioactive reinforces Yela's strengths, while exposing his weaknesses. After a string of six solid-to-great songs, the album drops off sharply. Funny that the drop-off starts right after Eminem has a phone conversation with Yela about the need for a "girl song." Unfortunately, this vulnerabilizes Yela. This business of writing cross-over songs isn't really his métier. Worse, he hasn't been around long enough to figure out how to disguise his disgust. And so he proceeds, ever so reluctantly, to craft a batch of mundane radio songs for god-knows-who. It really detracts from an otherwise enjoyable album.
Approximate number of Questionable Guest Appearances on Radioactive:
5. I'm about to show you five names. Please note that what follows isn't a random list of Asian pawn shops. These are real names of real people on Radioactive: Mona Mona, Poo Bear, Fefe Dobson, Priscilla Renae, Gangsta Boo.
Approximate number of Skippable Songs on Radioactive:
4. Whenever you see any of the names listed above, go ahead and hit the skip button. Yela was kind enough to line them up in the middle of the album for your skipping convenience. The only exception is "Throw It Up"--stick around for Eminem's red-hot verse on that one.
Why You Should Buy Radioactive:
Yelawolf is a likeable character who made a likeable album. And he truly shines when painting evocative portraits of his rise from the pill-popping trailer parks of Alabama to music stardom. There's room for improvement, but in a genre obsessed with authenticity Yela is the real deal.Best Songs:
- "Let's Roll"
- "Slumerican Shitizen"
- Eminem's verse on "Throw It Up"