YELAWOLF from Alabama, USA PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jai Boo   
Thursday, 25 February 2010 22:34


As a young child Alabama native YelaWolf lived in many different areas like Baton Rouge, Nashville, Atlanta and hometown Gadsden but this his nomadic upbringing helped to shape him into the artist he is today. At 16, the love for Hip-Hop grew while living in Antioch, TN. After trying to pursue a career as a professional skateboarder in California YelaWolf decided he wanted to pursue a career as an artist. 7 years on and Yelawolf is now being co-signed by artists like Raekwon and Bun B the same artists he grew up listening to. Jai Boo hooks up with Yelawolf for his first ever exclusive interview for the UK!

You were born in Alabama but have lived in various places like, Baton Rouge, Nashville, and Atlanta. Has living in these different areas helped with your creativeness as a rapper?

Yeah where I’ve been and places I’ve lived have had a heavy influence on my music because I have inspiration from real life experience. Just moving around and seeing a lot of places and people within the South has pretty much moulded who I am as an artist. 

Tell us about your name YelaWolf does it mean or stand for anything?

Yelawolf is Native American my father was a Cherokee my mom’s white. Yellow is the colour of power, fire, light and hunger. Wolf represents my ability to survive. That just came along with the living and learning about my self. 

When did you first realise that you wanted be an MC?

I started writing in the fifth grade literally and I got suspended for the first rap that I started writing. That was when I was in Nashville at a school called Carter Lawrence. I just kept the hobby of it and started to purse a career about 7 years ago. Also I tried to pursue a career in skateboarding for a while and I was out in Berkley California when I was 19. I was just a skate bum out there just living you know? We were at a park where they were giving away free food, me and my homies would always go and get free food from there, we were skate rats! It was at that park that I stood up looked around and thought ‘Yo man I’m not going to be a professional skateboarder I’m gonna pursue a career that I can actually achieve…possibly!’ (Laughs) You know what I’m saying? Because I kept getting hurt! My ankles kept getting f**ked up. So, you know it was hard to stay a float in the skateboard world but it was there where I stood up and said that, and the next day I just went full on into pursuing a career as an artist.

You said that you were suspended for writing your first rap at Carter Lawrence School. Can you tell us about that?

I had this principal his name Dr Tershe and he was this real pristine, toupee cocked to the side, moustache you know that type of guy who liked ‘paddling’ people? We get paddlings in the south I don’t know if you get that in the UK?

Paddling? I haven’t heard of that what is it?

Paddling is when they take out a big stick and paddle you out!

Oh over here we call it ‘The Cane’ but they’re not allowed to do that now.

Oh really? Well he was just one of those types who just liked to f**k with people. I wrote this rap and a friend wanted a copy to show is brother or some s**t, so I was in the office making a copy of it and he came into the office! He asked to read it and there was a bunch of profanity in it and so he told me I was going home for this bulls**t. My mom came up there; she had me when she was 15 so we pretty much raised each other you know? She came up there and she said you can’t expel him for this! He’s just expressing himself. But that was what we were surrounded by; at that time we were being pushed from Antioch into Nashville and to Carter Lawrence middle school. It was a school in the projects and so I was just getting my first taste in real Hip Hop and street culture. I was inspired by N.W.A the west coast was ruling the 90’s so I was really influenced by the gansgta sh*t obviously I didn’t know who I was as an artist yet.

How would you describe your sound?

If you’ve never heard of me before then I would say I’m a mix between Outkast, Lynard Skynard and the Beastie Boys that kind of sums me up. I do my melodies from classic rock because of the environment that I was raised around. My mom dated men in the music industry and one in particular did the lights and sound for Aerosmith during the ‘Walk This Way Tour’. I was about 7 and we lived out in the country in Alabama, he was a big party animal and always threw big parties. One time he brought some of the crew back from the walk this way tour to our house after a show and they brought me some ‘My Adidas’ t-shirts and Beastie Boys tapes that was my first taste of Hip Hop! I didn’t really know how to define it and that it was Hip Hop it was just Rock to me you know? Just music, but I had never heard the 808 sound or anybody rapping before and I fell in love with it then. Fast forward to Nashville where I really started to get a grip of what Hip Hop was about.

You’ve just dropped a free download mixtape called ‘Trunk Muzik’ featuring Bun B, Juelz Santana, Raekwon and Diamond from Crime Mobb. Tell us about that.

Well I had just come out of an EP that I did with a band. The catalogue that I have out goes like this: ‘Slick Rick E Bobby’ which is a tribute to the movie Talladega Nights. The race track Talladega is 20 minutes from my house, so that world and those types of people are my reality! (Laughs) Then I did ‘Stereo’ which was a Hip Hop tribute to classic Rock. I highly recommend all the folks in the UK to download that because I think you’ll appreciate it there’s a lot of dope Classic Rock on there. After that we did ‘Arena Rap’ it was an EP I put together with a band. Now with ‘Trunk Muzik’ we we’re just going to go back and do raw rap sh*t with 808’s, southern riding in your Chevy trunk music. We also set out to do a project that either you loved or hated because we felt like we didn’t want to be in between. We just wanted to be fully what we want to be, and over the top with what we’re going for and we achieved it! That for me feels great, the people who f**k with ‘Trunk Muzik’ will love it and the people who don’t f**k with it won’t f**k with it! That will just make my fans bigger fans. You know when you like an artist or group and you find someone who doesn’t like them you’re like, ‘what the f**k’s wrong with you?’

Yeah you’re going to big it up even more!

Exactly! I appreciate that I’m gaining fans that appreciate the music because it’s hitting home for a lot of people. Also the storytelling is bringing back an element of Hip Hop that was missing. It’s some sh*t to ride to, you know? I’m not trying to make singles for the club I’m just trying to make a classic.

Am I right in saying ‘Trunk Muzik’ was all written and produced in a week?

Yeah my boy Will Power from SupaHot Beats produced everything except for ‘I Wish’ which was produced by my team Ghet-O-Vision, and ‘Mixin up the medicine’ was produced by Kane Beatz. I’ve had a relationship with Will for a long time and we have a history of knocking out records pretty quickly. I just told him, ‘Yo, I want to do the Trunk Muzik sh*t in a week! You think we can do it?’ At the same time I was like, ‘I don’t want to put out a half ass project, let’s be tireless in the studio and not leave!’ So we packed up a pre production studio from Gerogia and came to my house in Alabama and set it up in the back room. We cranked out the whole mixtape! We wrote and produced it then we recorded it the next weekend.

How did you go about getting the features? Where they remixes or where they already in place?

The Raekwon record I had on deck already, a couple of years ago I was signed to Columbia Records, it was a short lived situation and we hooked up with Rae to do that record so we just re-worked the beat and I re-wrote my verses. The ‘Good to go’ track I wrote and recorded all my parts and we pitched it to a lot of people and they turned it down. You would be surprised how many people wouldn’t f**k with ‘Good to go’ but Bun B loved it. K.P from Ghet-O-Vision was responsible for all the features he’s got a massive network. I got to add that we don’t reach out for features just for the sake of having an artist for their fame or their money or what they got going on. We really pay attention as to how it can benefit the record, so we were meticulous about what we picked who and what for. I’m honoured to have worked with Raekwon he was an inspiration to me obviously, and an inspiration to the Hip Hop world. So for him to put a stamp to my project was an honour. Bun B, I grew up on his music, I grew up in the south so it’s been great! Trunk Muzik I’m so proud of it it’s going well.

Like you said you’ve worked with many legendary artists like Bun B, Raekwon plus artist Killer Mike, Slim Thug and Juelz Santana. What valuable lessons if any have you learnt whilst working with them?

The valuable lessons that I’ve learnt is being reassured that I’m being myself. I learnt that being me is cool and it’s the best thing that I can be. I don’t have to cut corners or embellish who I am. After I did ‘I Run’ with Slim Thug I had yet to have a record to hit the radio so I didn’t know what the masses would think about my voice. I had faith in my talent but in the back of my head I still didn’t know how my voice and tone would appeal to the masses because people are picky. I’m a fan too and I don’t like certain things and I love other things. The record with Slim Thug got a really good response. I couldn’t make the video because it was Christmas and I was running around crazy with my fam and missed the video. It was kind of a blessing because there was nobody there for anybody to hate on, it was just the voice. People loved the record and it proved to me they liked my voice! Nobody knew I did the record! Recently I was on Kay Slay’s show on Sirius Radio and I told him that I did the hook and he was like, ‘That was you? Oh my God I didn’t know that was you!’ The same thing happened with DJ Green Lantern, he didn’t know it was me and he said he played the f**k out of that record! It was a blessing so the lesson to me was to be yourself, believe in who you are and believe in your own story. If it’s meant to be for you it will be you don’t have to fake nothing.

Earlier you mentioned that you were briefly signed with Columbia Records but you’re still with Ghet-O-Vision how did you hook up with them?

I met ‘K.P’ Kawan Prather through ‘Brother Bear’ Courtney Sills who is now my manager. We gave him and ‘J Dot’ Jeremy Jones who was co-managing with Bear some of our music at Atlanta’s Music Conference. I told them that I would be performing the next night. That night he called K.P and after he heard my music he flew down to see me the next day. Sh*t man they came to see me but they missed the show! So what we did was me and my crew; a bunch of crazy white boys in dear hunting apparel piled up in a truck. We had a 6ft deer mascot! (Laughs) We rolled up there in a truck. Bear was like come and meet my boy K.P. So we went over to this little dance rehearsal room with mirrors and sh*t there was a little boom box in there I put the CD in and performed like there was a thousand people there. I had some flyers in my pocket so I threw them all over him! (Laughs) I don’t know man but that set it off and he said ‘I’m in!!’ That’s how I got with Ghet-O-Vision. K.P got me a deal with Columbia, Rick Rubin came to Columbia and cleaned house we; Ghet-O-Vision left and went back to the streets and being independent. We’ve grinded for these past 2 years putting out mixtapes and projects on our own.

Trunk Muzik’ dropped in January will we see a Yelawolf album any time soon?

We’re going to drop one more mixtape in March called ‘Chevy Metal’. That is going to be retarded! It’s going to have a big DJ host it.

Can you tell us who the DJ is or is it hush hush?

I so wish I could say but I can’t! I don’t want it to turn around and bite me because anything can change but as of now the DJ’s proper and everybody in the world has heard of him….so all I can say it that. It should be out in March but I say that having not recorded one song. (Laughs)

(Laughs) Well it took you a week to record ‘Trunk Music’ so that shouldn’t be a problem!

Yeah, yeah we haven’t even started! This is going to be interpretations of classic Heavy Metal like, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Metallica, you know? Some Heavy Metal classic sh*t, I’m really excited about that it’s going to be retarded. I know that people have done the rock/rap thing and filed but we’re gonna do it tastefully I promise!

Shout out your sites

I know MySpace is losing it’s cool but I still got one up and it’s official it’s got everything that you would want from me right now as far as music. . You can also follow me on Twitter I’m always taking photos of my crib, people and places and things that are around Alabama or anywhere that I’m at. I use my phone as a point of perspective and sharing that with people so that they can put an image to my music and understand why and how I’m creating these concepts. I encourage people to follow me on there because if I put up any music and you’ll be the first to have that link. It’s the easiest way to keep up with me because I’m on it all the time.  

Have you been touring at all?

Yeah but I’ve never been outside the US I can’t wait to get over to the UK and break the ice over there.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for my first UK interview I was real excited about that!

Interview by Jai Boo

Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2010 16:07