Yelawolf Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
New York, N.Y. -- If DJBooth.net had a back and hands, well, it would be a person and not a website--regardless, there'd be some serious patting going on right now. What for? For jumping on the Yelawolf bandwagon way back in October of 2009, well before the rest of the game had any idea just how big he was destined to do it. Self-congratulation aside, we've been through a lot with the Alabama native, premiering his "Dirt Road" freestyle as part of our Exclusive Freestyle Series and even presenting his breakout project, the phenomenal Trunk Muzik mixtape. Now signed to Ghet-O-Vision/Shady/Interscope, Catfish Billy is preparing for the release of debut studio album Radioactive. Heralded by Lil Jon-assisted lead single "Hard White (Up in the Club)," the project is set to hit record stores and online retailers September 27.
In an exclusive, five-question interview, Yelawolf steps into the Booth to discuss his favorite experiences on this summer's Warped Tour, his occasional feelings of isolation of the game, and his hit reality show concept (network execs, take note!).
Your first interview with DJBooth.net was in February of 2010. Since then you've signed two label deals, toured the entire country, and finished your major label debut. What was your favorite un-publicized moment during this 17-month stretch?
I don’t know man. I’ve had so many great moments. There’s been a few nights at Warped Tour this year that I had a really, really good time and you know there was no one there to film it. There was no one there to document it. It was just me and Kevin Lyman, who runs Warped Tour, just sitting down and talking for like an hour and he tried to freestyle rhyme with me over a fiddle player (laughs). He had these two fiddle players come and play in his tent and he tried to freestyle rhyme with me. That was pretty incredible.
In your new single Hard White you spit "In this forest, I’m a lonely tree / My limbs are covered in tattoos, and my roots, they run deep." Despite always being surround by representatives, colleagues and fans, is isolation a feeling you often experience as an artist?
Yeah for sure. I feel isolated a lot as person. This is a lonely business, man. After everything, you’re pretty much back in your hotel or at the crib. That’s why I try to hang out as much as I can and kick it with people that I really care about that I knew before I ever started music and with new friends of course that could care less but, that’s the personal side of this answer. The artistic side of this is that – I’m out on tour and there’s not anyone like me at all. Nowhere. And that's my gift. It’s my experiences, my story. I’m just saying that, I’m by myself in this instance.
Another stand out line in Hard White comes in the third and final verse. You rhyme: "Dead or alive, I’ll put a stamp in this b*tch / You’ll never see rock and roll do hip-hop like I did." Sounds like you're angling for that Rebel with a Cause image - agree or disagree?
Ahhh… a rebel with a cause image, image is so shallow. It means just the clothes that I put on. Also, my image as I like get older, it’s very definitive to the tattoos that I have. The clothes that I wear do represent who I am as a person and who I am in my soul. I try to match it up, everyday...but it's just bigger than that. There’s never been an artist who grew up on rock n’ roll like I did and completely adopted hip-hop and became a rapper. If you look at my path, you would argue that I should’ve been singing with a guitar. I grew up in that world, but I made a choice and through skateboarding and everything I did - I picked up hip-hop. I fell in love with hip-hop and I started trying to master it. I have a lot of my soul in rock n’ roll music. Melodically, the lifestyle and just everything. I think that’s becoming evident the more shows that people come see.
Hard White collaborator Lil Jon was recently on NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice. If you had your own reality television show, what would the title be?
Pimp Your Trailer.
Your debut album, Radioactive, is set for release this fall. People are trained to stay away from anything considered "radioactive." Why should they do the opposite with your project?
Well your mom always said don’t play with fire but, but once you hear that – you still want to pick up a match. You want to burn something, and the moment someone catches you making a fire, they curse you out for it. It’s reverse psychology. Radioactive is not a literal statement obviously. Radioactive is the fallout from my life’s story and my inspirations up to this point. It’s the after affects of my career, or lack thereof, so far.