- SPIN Rating:8 of 10
This Alabama rapper is an amazing postmodern mutation: A grainy Southern-gothic Rob Zombie directing gut-punch 808s, spitting scattergun rhymes screwed to half-speed by his slinky white-boy drawl; a baby-faced, elaborately inked, AOR-bred dreamboat; and a hick-hop skate-punk American badass. But despite his eye-catching neck tats and shout-outs to Tom Petty, Yelawolf is first and foremost a gifted MC, a devilishly slow-flowing boondocks Eminem who recklessly peels off and accelerates into a disorienting blur of words straight from the Bone Thugs book of aggro-syllabics.
Following a series of well-received mixtapes, Yela's major-label debut creates a world of moonshine crunk, where hip-hop thrives in the beer-can-strewn gutter, the dirt road, the Waffle House, the backyard where Dad slaughters his breakfast. The trunk-denting bass drops, croaking synths, and groaning electro-grunge from producer Will Power give the proceedings even more of a backwoods headbanger edge.
But it's the storytelling that truly compels, with Yela painting familiar hip-hop subject matter in dusty, evocative, rural hues. His version of grinding is pushing crystal meth to the trailer park, popping bottles is sharing cold beer and a bag of airplane glue, balling is $20 on a Friday night, cruising is conning a rich girl to let him drive her daddy's Lamborghini. Or, as he says, "This ain't a figment of my imagination, buddy, this is where I live."