Southern Rapper Yelawolf Sheds The Labels

By Jake Krzeczowski

When Alabama-born hip-hop artist Yelawolf (Michael Wayne Atha) brings his Slumerican Tour to the House of Blues October 25, it is the culmination of his journey through the ranks.

While many fans may know him from his somewhat recent association with Eminem and his 2011 commercial release Radioactive, Yelawolf is well-traveled in the hip-hop game and knows nothing matters more than doing things his own way.

The 32-year-old Interscope/Shady signee has seen the good and bad of the music world since he first broke into the scene with a 2005 independent debut album Creek Water that eventually spawned into a short-lived deal with Columbia Records.

“That deal didn’t last long at all,” said Yelawolf. “The most valuable lesson I learned is
that without your team, without an operating group of people working directly for you, a
label is useless.”

Following the break up, the member of the 2011 XXL Freshman class reassessed his
situation and says he focused on securing a strong team around him, staying away from
major labels.

The union with Interscope/Shady came on the heels of a return to the streets, which saw
him release the critically acclaimed Trunk Muzik mixtape.

He felt comfortable with Interscope CEO Jimmy Iavoarone and went to the studio to
record Radioactive with a different approach in mind

“Radioactive was like [the label’s] shot to step in on my music,” said Yelawolf. “That door is closed. That room doesn’t exist anymore, much less the door. Now it’s about getting back to what I’ve been doing lately, my freedom.”

Radioactive, which he described as “a total mess,” debuted at No. 27 on the Billboard 200 and sold just over 40,000 copies in the first week. Although he is happy with Shady’s sub-family, the avid skateboarder felt as though he lost creative control with the project and has looked to change his approach from here on out.

“I’m gaining back my creative control. There’s nothing about me that changed I just let people share my creative space,” said Yelawolf. “The ‘original Yelawolf,’ that’s still me, I didn’t ever sell out.”

Following his show in Chicago, Yelawolf has plans to release an EP collaboration with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker titled Psycho White in November, along with several other projects still in the works.

Yelawolf has learned a lot over the years from his dealings in the music industry, but stresses that he’s nowhere near finished.

“I’m still growing as an artist and only see myself getting better,” said Yelawolf. “I’m never waiting for something to happen. I just always keep my head up and stay on the road.”

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