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The Magazine

February 27, 2012


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Written by: Paul Kitti
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Southern-rooted rapper, actor and skater extraordinaire Yelawolf has actually been around for a while. Before Eminem reached out and yanked him into the international spotlight, the now thirty-two-year-old Michael Atha had been Huck Finn-ing his way around the country (in a more 21st century kind of way). From bruising his knees as an aspiring professional skater in California to charter fishing for extra change to signing and ending deals with both Columbia and Interscope, Yelawolf seemed to be some kind of tattoo-covered fish who refused to be hooked, exploring the channels that weave through Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida (all of these temporary homes come through as clear as paintings in his lyrics and music videos).

“Yelawolf’s Shady Records debut “Radioactive” combines rap, rock and country influences behind a gritty southern perspective that is reminiscent of Outkast – but still decidedly hard to place.”

Leave it to Detroit’s hip-hop prince to reel in the talented wordsmith and display him on the great wall that is American media. Luckily, what we’re looking at isn’t another Eminem clone, but someone with a fresh – if not bizarre – persona that seems something like a cross between a heavy metal singer, a skater punk and Ricky Bobby. But give him some no-nonsense bass and a little synth and he turns into one of the most technically gifted rappers since, well, Eminem. His delivery is cocky, almost snarling, prone to shift into Twista-like hyperspeed and level out with well-placed pauses and whispers.

Yelawolf’s Shady Records debut “Radioactive” combines rap, rock and country influences behind a gritty southern perspective that is reminiscent of Outkast – but still decidedly hard to place. It has some awkward conventions you might expect to see on a crossover album (Kid Rock collaborative effort “Let’s Roll” looks more like a bridge to a targeted audience than a rap song), but the talent on display is energizing and, for the most part, there isn’t anything else like this being produced right now. It’s often off-the-wall and can flush your mind with surprising imagery – like a shotgun-wielding trucker with a PBR gut guzzling lighter fluid from a snakeskin canteen or …just give him a listen. You’ll see what I mean.

Yelawolf will be performing at 7 p.m. on March 6 at St. Andrew’s Hall. Tickets start at $18 and are available through Ticketmaster.


About the Author

Paul Kitti
Paul Kitti
Paul is another awesome member of the iSPY team.

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