“I really never ever stopped moving,” he says while driving around Nashville, his home of the past three years. “That’s my life story in a nutshell.”
With his latest release, Love Story, perhaps he can finally downshift. Since 2010’s Trunk Muzik, his career has been on the fast track. His redneck appearance—his tattoos include a catfish swimming down his forearm and “Heart of Dixie” stamped on his stomach—and raps about Appalachian meth dealers might’ve made him a novelty act. But his rapid-fire delivery and intense live show ensured no one considered him a joke. As Pitchfork marveled, “Yelawolf is a powerful new rap voice, one that draws from all over the map without sounding much like anyone else.” Interscope Records agreed and within three months, he had a major label deal. Later that year, the tape was re-released as Trunk Muzik 0-60,…[read more…]
Yelawolf. Envision a humid world of slow-rolling Monte Carlos and slaughter houses; meth labs and rusting Mossberg’s, inked up arms and haircuts that look like they’ve been chopped by hatchets. Trunk Muzik. Southern Pine trees, smoking pine, and pine boxes. Call him Catfish Billy or Yelawolf, just don’t go make him go pop the trunk on you.
Enter Yelawolf’s Alabama—a backwoods badlands of sinners and salvation. He claims Gadsden, but he’s from everywhere. Born Michael Wayne Atha to an absentee father and a bartender mother, he attended over 15 schools while soaking up slang and spiritualism in Baton Rouge, Antioch, Tennessee, and Atlanta. While trying to stay afloat in a turbulent home life addled by drug and alcohol abuse, he discovered rap music in Tennessee and it soon became an obsession, along with the classic rock (Lynard Skynard, Pink Floyd, The Allman Brothers) that he was raised on.
“When I lived in Antioch, they’d bus us down to the projects in Nashville to go to school and everything just started clicking with me with rap music and in life,” Yelawolf said. “I felt the connection, these kids had the same problems that I had at…[read more…]
Rittz. Hailing from north of the ATL, in the suburbs of Gwinnett County, Georgia, comes Southern rapper Jonathan McCollum, aka Rittz. With a quick, sharp tongue and dexterous rhymes, McCollum had a few close calls in the music industry, winning a battle contest on Hot 107.9, and nearly following in the career path of Eminem, but unfortunately, he was unable to lock down a record deal due to disputes in management and contract deals. Soured by the experience, and just on the verge of giving up rap entirely, Rittz was recruited by Yelawolf to guest on “Box Chevy” from the 2010 album Trunk Musik 0-60. More collaborations followed, and so did two mixtapes, 2011’s White Jesus and 2012’s White Jesus: Revival. Strange Music signed the rapper late that year, and released Rittz’s studio debut, The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant, in 2013.[read more…]