Yelawolf should not be a likable proposition. He’s an early thirty-something gawky-lookin’ white rapper from Alabama, heavily tattooed and dressed in baggy shorts and a basketball vest. He deals in hip-hop’s well-trodden subjects – an emotional upbringing (absent father, young mother), addiction and (snooze) smoking weed. But the big guns love him: The Neptunes, Diplo, Big Boi, Wu Tang, Travis Barker and Eminem, who recently signed him to his Shady Record’s imprint. Let’s not forget (or forgive) that label’s most notable delivery is still gang o’ goons D12. But yet, in the unforgiving heat of Sonar By Day’s orange-grove courtyard surroundings, there’s something galvanising about Yelawolf’s offering.
Chunky southern beats are teamed with Wolf’s skittering flow and call-out choruses. It’s cool but lazy, gritty but poppy. Closer, and most recent single ‘Pop The Trunk’ in particular gets the sun-blushed crowd moving as he whips off a woolly hat and thrashes his wet-down Mohawk around while grabbing his crotch like he’s Fred Durst circa 2000. Somehow, it’s brilliant.
By Omar Tanti
Originally published in issue 30 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. July 2011.