When people talk about YelaWolf, it's pretty much impossible to not talk about Eminem. This isn't really his fault, though he might've been better off choosing a record company other than the one run by the world's only other respected white rapper. Shady Records pedigree aside, YelaWolf has crafted an infectious, downright scary record with "Radioactive", his first proper release.
What made Eminem so impossibly popular wasn't his race or his good looks. It certainly wasn't his charm. It might've had a little bit to do with the violent fantasy world he crafted in his lyrics. Chuck Klosterman, noted music journalist and all-around pop culture historian, argues that it's mostly to do with one particular quality that sets Slim Shady above and beyond his peers: enunciation. Eminem speaks to so many people because "He's literally good at talking," Klosterman said. For better or worse, Eminem has some competition in that area now.
"The Hardest Love Song in the World" is a standout. What separates YelaWolf from his white-rap peers is a total lack of guilt. He seemingly feels no need to apologize for his traditionally white-leaning cultural cues. "Don't gotta drive a Fleetwood Cadillac / You just got to know some of the words to Fleetwood Mac / Horror movies turn you on, pull the seats back / Fuck it, I'll role play, do it to you in a Jason mask," he raps, casually tossing off a genius reference to Stevie Nicks and company.
Drugs are a constant presence on the album, and songs like "Slumerican Shitizen" and the Kid Rock collaboration "Let's Roll" make early period Eminem's rhymes about vicodin sound downright old-fashioned. YelaWolf has lived a hard knock sort of life, one completely removed from the New York world of Jay-Z. In a recent interview, YelaWolf described his drugged out lifestyle as an Alabama delinquent.
"I was on some trashy white boy shit. Fillin' trash bags up with Freon and huffin' it, sniffin' glue at 11, 12 years old, smokin' sherm, puttin' cocaine on weed at 13. I was a bad little kid and I went hard in the paint before I was 20."
YelaWolf describes himself as a "Gutter motherfucker from an Alabama creek" and one is inclined to believe him. Lead single "Hard White (Up in The Club)" practically drips with the sweaty southern panic that Lil Jon made famous. It doesn't hurt that Lil Jon actually guests on the track, but this album doesn't need flashy guests to make its emotional impact felt. YelaWolf's lightning fast delivery creates a delirious roller coaster ride for the senses.