Yelawolf Takes Us Through the Rural South in 0-60

By: Danny Sedlezak
Pros: Yelawolf’s amazing flow and delivery, mostly interesting subject matter, sometimes brilliant production, above average lyrics, original material, and ‘Pop the Trunk’
Cons: Mostly armature beats, three songs with boring subject matter, weak guest appearances (especially Gucci)

Someone once compared Yelawolf to Young Money star Drake. I laughed. Sure, both artists had their debuts by re-releasing their mixtape through a major label, but the similarities end there. While Drake is nearly an R&B star, YelaWolf is one of the most skilled Southern rappers I’ve heard since Outkast. While Bubba Sparxxx has worked with the rural rapper idea since his debut nearly 10 years ago, Yelawolf makes the backwoods roads seem menacing, comparing the rural South to a dangerous inner city. About 90% of the time, it’s believable. Mixing (mostly) piano and techno-tinged beats, Yelawolf talks about his favorite things: cars, fast women, illicit substances and his environment.
Yelawolf was ‘discovered’ (never mind that he almost had a break three years ago) by the same man who found the likes of T.I. and the aforementioned Outkast. The difference? This time, the rapper is white. Yes, Trunk Muzik 0-60 is an album from a backwoods country white skater, and surprisingly, he bests many of his modern inner city peers. If you can look past the occasional lame beat, you’ll find a very original and well made debut to the mainstream world.
If you judged a book by its title, ‘Daddy’s Lambo’ might seem like a generic car song, but instead opts to be a reverse gold digger song, eventually morphing into a (somewhat) touching love song by the third verse. Being a poor Southern boy, Yelawolf sees a rich ‘Beverly Hills’ girl and wants to drive her ‘Daddy’s Lambo’. It features a beat from Drama Beats, the cousin of Rob Dyrdek, (Yelawolf even gives Rob a shout out in the outro) and creates a somewhat interesting beat with high pitch chimes and the occasional synth riff. Still it seems amateur. However, Yelawolf doesn’t use this song to investigate the mentality of a gold digger, but instead just repeatedly states that he’s dope, and this girl is rich. It’s skippable.
‘That’s What We on Now’ is an ode to being a poor Alabama boy. This song really is a showcase for the inevitable comparisons to a Southern Eminem, the white trash pride, the flow. You can also feel the Big Boi (of Outkast fame) influence. There is this really strange borderline slow techno beat to back declarations of love to pick up trucks and plaid. (He claims he’s like Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam, in that regard.) The song is strangely enjoyable to the adventurous. Pop lovers stay clear.
‘I Just Wanna Party’ is exactly what you expect, opening with the line “go white girl, it’s your birthday…BUR!”. Yelawolf has a killer delivery pushing near mach-five speed and the occasional clever figure of speech . However, the annoying Valley Girl chorus, the high pitch synth and Gucci Maine’s horrendous verse (it goes off beat almost every other bar) make it near torture.
‘Billy Crystal’ proves that the strange techno is now a Yelawolf staple. Featuring a nice high pitch piano and a techno beat, Yela shows his more than competent storytelling skills and spins a tale of a drug pushing trailer park kid named Billy that ends with a great twist. If you can handle the techno-influenced chorus, you’ll love it.
Knowing his label, you should have heard ‘Pop the Trunk’ by now. Sadly, Ghet-O-Vision is losing its stature as the peak Southern commercial enterprise. Featuring a very good arrangement of a haunting piano and a low brass punctuated chorus, Yelawolf paints the rural South as a place just as dangerous as any inner city. And you believe it.  Easily the best song on the album, and Yelawolf’s signature song (for now).
‘Box Chevy’ is a slow paced ode to a pickup truck and all of the women it has seen. With a beat that channels a sort of outer space feel, it at first seems like filler. But as soon as the guest Rittz the Rapper comes in, it becomes slightly more distinct. Once the second verse comes in, it picks up and becomes one of the peaks of the album. The space-age beat is one of the better on the record.
We take a brief tour to Houston with Bun B on ‘Good to Go’ and are given a pimpin’ song. Even with Yelawolf flowing at near light speed, the poor guest verse, the unfitting and weak beat and an uncreative spin on a played-out subject matter cancel out whatever good Yela brought to the song. It’s a pass.
‘Love is Not Enough’ breaks the string of weak tracks and brings the second most personal track (the most being ‘Pop the Trunk’) on this album. Yelawolf touches on a relationship that ended with an “Abercrombie and Fitch” girl because of her gold digger tendencies. The song has a melancholy assortment of steel drums, flutes and synths that paint a slow beat that sets the perfect mood. Even though he claims that “I don’t need you… I have me,” you can tell he doesn’t mean it. Even with its pop crossover potential, it is still an album highlight.
The triumphant Southern rock sound of ‘I wish’ continues the streak of strong songs. (Somehow, the drum backbeat reminds me of ‘Kill You’ off of Eminem’s MMLP, which is a good thing.) While Yelawolf examines the hypocrisy of the Southern whites (“Yeah, I see Southern crosses on pickup trucks, but why is Beanie [Seagle] coming out?”) guest Rakewon delivers the strongest guest verse on the album by exploring the ever-changing game, and letting youngsters know that, as an elder statesmen of hip-hop, you should support any fan of rap. This is also Yealwolf’s love song to hip hop. This is the second consecutive highlight.
The title track closes out the album. With snyths that sound like they were recorded miles underwater, it’s soaking with a creepy atmosphere. A mix between a ballad and a Cadillac cruising song, this and ‘Pop the Trunk’ exemplifies Trunk Muzik 0-60, and Yelawolf for that matter. With a flow that can turn a tongue into a ball of knots, this is the second best song on the album.
Yelawolf lives up to the (underground) hype. While some of the production could use work, at least it has an original flair. While not the best lyricist ever, Yelawolf spits pretty good lyrics that are delivered with unbelievable flow and charisma and proves that delivery goes a long way. If more Southern artists like Yelawolf could get signed to major labels, the Dirty South wouldn’t have such a bad reputation. I hope this excellent album is commercially successful; it stands as one of the better albums in an otherwise bland year. I would recommend it to any fan of Southern rap, skater rap, or any rap fan who wants to listen to something different.