Yelawolf has Returned from the Wilderness of Suck, and his 'Trunk Muzik Returns' is our Mixtape of the Month
It once seemed that the rap world might truly get taken over by Yelawolf, a weird, skinny white dude from Alabama who could rap you under the table and then go fishing afterwards.
It once seemed that the rap world might truly get taken over by Yelawolf, a weird, skinny white dude from Alabama who could rap you under the table and then go fishing afterwards. He released Ball of Flames: The Ballad of Slick Rick E. Bobby and Trunk Muzik, two arrestingly great mixtapes, found himself stealing the show on Big Boi's Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty, and built himself up a following that earned him a slot on Eminem's Shady Records roster. However, the fall of Yelawolf seemed to happen nearly immediately after his rise. This is all to say, Yelawolf's most prominent song from his album Radioactive had Kid Rock on the hook, and that's a terrible, terrible idea.
So, yeah. The years have not been kind to Yelawolf and he's had some uphill battles to deal with. After Radioactive dropped Yelawolf quickly became a punchline amongst the rap community, and his Hard White EP with Travis Barker only dampened his esteem. But in the past year, Yelawolf has quietly been releasing some of the music of his career. First came Heart of Dixie, a collaborative tape with M16, whose productions—lush at times, caustic at others, but always full-bodied—provided the perfect sonic parameters for Yela to bounce around in while proving that he does, in fact, have an understanding of what actual rap fans are listening to these days.
Trunk Muzik Returns, Yelawolf's newest effort with SupaHotBeats, may very well be the best thing he's ever done. It's concise, shows an astonishing lyrical growth on Yela's part, and most importantly sounds like very little else out there. I like to credit this to the fact that Yelawolf has a beard now, but it probably has more to do with the fact that the failure of Radioactive probably allowed Yelawolf a lot less label scrutiny and meant that he could make the music he actually wanted to make. And it turns out Yelawolf wanted to make music that could best be described as Skynyrd Casino. "Catfish Billy" recalls both the vocal acrobatics of Doseone and the beat for Ghostface's "Stroke of Death" and also finds Yelawolf screaming most of George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say on Television in a row. "Rhyme Room" features a beat that resides firmly in the cloud, Yela atoning for Radioactive's sins, and Killer Mike yelling "Woo!" a lot for some reason. Both are incredible. Elsewhere, "Hustle" finds Yelawolf teaming with Paul Wall, which somehow feels important, and "Tennessee Love" is Yela's storytelling at its most tragic and sordid. But really, you should listen to the entire mixtape pretty much immediately.
Yelawolf is a weirdo, an outsider, a dude who I didn't need to tell you hung out with the ATL Twins because you probably already guessed it. Trunk Muzik Revisted is the perfect dirt road for Yelawolf to be traveling on these days, and hopefully he sticks on it.
Drew Millard is the number-one Rittz fan currently working in music journalism. He's on Twitter - @drewmillard