Nobody got more play in the Takhar household than my penis. But next to my penis, it was Yelawolf. On the home stereo. In the earbuds. And most fittingly in the whip, yo! What’s more gangster than bumping Trunk Muzik in your wife’s petite white Honda Civic? Nothin’, that’s what! Shee-it, I put that seat back and lean out the back window, son! Anyway: Yelawolf. Not only is he getting Album of the Year, he’s also my Artist of the Year. Let me back it up a bit…
Eminem once said “I can’t rap anymore, I just murdered the alphabet.” Well, in 2010, Yela just gave it mouth to mouth and killed it again. I first heard him on Big Boi’s You Ain’t No DJ, where he stood toe-to-toe with the legendary Outkast MC. No small feat. I began the research. First stop: the Mixin’ Up The Medicine remix. I picked my jaw up off the floor and proceeded to promptly drop it right back in spot when I saw that he was coming to Fortune Sound Club. I copped his internet mixtape, Trunk Muzik, and listened to it repeatedly. Yela draws first blood right off the bat with the title track. A unique beat lays the road for Yela to swerve in and out of the soundscape, switching speeds from laid back to a rapid-fire flow that would leave most rappers wheezing and eating his dust. I hadn’t heard a man completely tear apart a song like this since…well, you know. The other white guy I like. And it doesn’t let up. Stage Lights (Remix). I Wish (Featuring Raekwon). Blah blah blah. At eleven tracks (twelve with the bonus …Medicine remix) it’s lean and mean. And while there are one or two songs not entirely to my taste (Lick The Cat, Speak Her Sex) he’s still captivating while rapping on them. I was thoroughly won over by Trunk Muzik when the day finally arrived. Yelawolf: Live! I would finally see if this guy was as sick on stage as he was on record. (It still sounds better than ‘…on digital AAC file’) So I grabbed my pal Ian from the kennel and we went, waded through the wack opening acts and watched him lay waste to that stage. Charismatic and commanding, he sounded just like he did on the album. Sold!
Since then he’s been all over the internet and hustling hard to keep his buzz going/growing, via free tracks, ”freestyles,” guest appearances, mini-docs and Cyphers, and I’ve been following every step of the way. Finally, this past November his label released an “official” version of Trunk Muzik, the criminally under-promoted and creatively named Trunk Muzik: 0-60. Six of the songs off the mixtape made the cut, along with six new ones. Every song seems to fit a completely different archetype and sub-genre, and Wolf dons a new vocal style for each with ease. Daddy’s Lambo is a catchy and clever dig at spoiled Hollywood heiresses (think the Kardashian or Hilton sisters), who Yela obviously looks down his nose at, but is not above sliding the ‘Mini-Wolf.’ Get The Fuck Up reclaims ‘rap-rock’ from god-awful Durst depths and elevates it back to Beastie Boy/Reverend Run heights and perfectly marries both sides of Yela – the down south rap thug and the rowdy skateboarding punk. I Just Wanna Party is just okay as a song, but even his misfires are awesome, because lyrically I know I’m watching a new bar being set for how to rap every time he steps to the mic stand. The best of the new six-pack is That’s What We On Now. The beat swirls around Yela’s smooth bouncy delivery all squishy and weird and perfect, while the simple but solid hook anchors the whole thing.
If I have to pick an over-all highlight, I guess I’ll pick Pop The Trunk, which appears on both versions of Trunk Muzik, and is accompanied by a stark, dark, amazingly filmed video. Even before I saw the video, the song perfectly painted an entirely unique, vivid picture of white trash poverty in the relatively unexplored (in rap) backwoods of Alabama.
On a skill level, I keep drawing comparisons to Eminem (see the I Wish Remix below), but on another level (particularly on Pop The Trunk) he reminds me of when I first heard N.W.A. Not since back then, when I was introduced to Gangster Rap, have I been taken on a tour of so foreign and dangerous a place – a place full of empty PBR cans, exploding meth labs and weird mohawk-mullets – and been so infatuated with it all. What I’m saying is: N.W.A. x (Eminem + Lynyrd Skynyrd) = Yelawolf. What more can I say? If that doesn’t sound like a formula for success to you, you’re deaf. And a disability is no reason to be an asshole.
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And make sure to tune in tomorrow for the CLIMACTIC FINALE!!!!