12 Dec 2015

Yelawolf

From RNZ Music, 2:25 pm on 12 December 2015
Yelawolf

Yelawolf Photo: Ryan Smith

Signed to Eminem’s Shady Records, Yelawolf’s background is unlike any of his bicoastal labelmates on the Detroit rapper’s imprint.

Born Michael Wayne Atha, the Gadsen, Alabama native has represented his southern roots through his country music-referencing rap and his outlaw-inspired style – right down to flying the Confederate flag, a symbol that for many is closely allied with the Southern states’ history of slavery and racism.

But, in a year when this contested symbol of Southern independence has become increasingly charged following the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, Yelawolf has found himself on the defensive.

Having peppered songs with unapologetic references to a flag that hung in his childhood home, Yelawolf took a step back from these pledges of allegiance when he released ‘To Whom It May Concern’, an eight-minute missive which presents the context for his flag-waving.

“I don’t really have a personal relationship with the flag per se,” he explains. “I do have a personal relationship with the people in the South that either had it in their house, or on their car, or on their shirt, or on their hat, and I’ve just never experienced any of those particular people be blatantly racist or cruel.

“But I grew up in a different time; I’m an ’80s baby and I was raised by a mother who was 16 when I was born … [a] 26-year-old woman in the rock’n’roll world with a 10-year-old son; I saw things differently.

“I was onstage with Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Dwight Yoakam, Alabama, Randy Travis –Run-D.M.C. came to my house because my mom’s boyfriend was doing lights for them – and there were Confederate flags everywhere. But I guess people wanted to redefine it and protect it as a piece of pride in the South.”

For Music 101, Yelawolf talks with Sam Wicks about reclaiming his redneck roots.

Music details

Artist: Yelawolf feat. Raekwon
Song: Tonight, You Belong to Me
Composer: M.Atha, C.Woods
Album: Trunk Muzik
Label: Ghet-O-Vision

Artist: Yelawolf
Song: Pop the Trunk
Composer: M.Atha
Album: Trunk Muzik
Label: Ghet-O-Vision

Artist: Yelawolf
Song: American You
Composer: M.Atha, M.Ho, M.Mathers, L.Resto
Album: Love Story
Label: Shady, Interscope

Artist: Yelawolf
Song: Box Chevy V
Composer: M.Atha, M.Ho, W.Washington, M.Hartnett, M.Hayes, A.Young, S.Carter, S.Storch
Album: Love Story
Label: Shady, Interscope

Artist: Yelawolf
Song: To Whom It May Concern
Composer: M.Atha
Album: Unreleased
Label: Private

Artist: Yelawolf
Song:Ball and Chain
Composer: M.Atha
Album: Love Story
Label: Shady, Interscope