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Interview:
Yelawolf at the Fillmore Detroit, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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It's been quite a year for Yelawolf.



The Nashville based rapper and Southern rocker -- born Michael Atha in Alabama -- has released two albums, launched his own independent label and lifestyle brand (Slumerican), featured in a critically acclaimed movie ("The Peanut Butter Falcon"), opened a retail store in Nashville and married again, to singer Fefe Dobson.



That's a lot of accomplishment in one 12-month period, and Yelawolf promises he's not slowing down; In fact, with his 40th birthday coming Dec. 30, he feels like he's just at the start of a productive new era -- "A real big turning point," as he calls it...



• Since 2011, Yelawolf was signed to Eminem's Shady Records before going on his own with Slumerican for his new "Ghetto Cowboy." But he says the departure from Shady was "fully" amicable. "Shady's been nothing but good to me. You’ve got to give (Eminem) and Paul (Rosenberg) and the whole team over there credit for having the (guts) to put out a record like (2015's) 'Love Story' and support me like I did. I've got nothing both love for Shady."



• Nevertheless, Yelawolf craved a degree of independence he could not get from being part of any label. "I'm 100 percent responsible now -- that's the blessing and the curse of being independent and jumping out on your own with everything. But that's also the joy of it, not having to worry about the politics and the bureaucratic bull*** that goes on. At a label everybody's got ideas. You've got producers and writers jumping out of the woodwork. It's time for me to be the one in charge right now."



• Yelawolf is also well aware that his multi-genre blend of styles -- rap, Southern rock, country -- makes him hard to categorize, which is another blessing and curse. "Some people don't get what I do, and that's OK. This is my personal history of classic rock 'n' roll, gangsta rap, hip-hop, outlaw country music; Learning how to mesh all that (stuff) into a style is the ultimate challenge, without being what I feel is corny or predictable. At the end of the day the core of what I do is always going to be hip-hop, but the beauty of the music is you can bend it, change it, alter it to whatever you want to turn it into."



• Yelawolf is looking forward to building his Slumerican brand, which is headquartered in a combination barber shop/retail space that sells vintage clothing as well as Yelawolf merchandise. "It's a culture brand," he explains and will also be record label that will be home for other artists -- such as Nashville rapper Struggle Jennings -- as well as Yelawolf. "We're just taking our time with it and bringing in talent and developing people. Obviously my project has the most potential, so we'll kind of use ('Ghetto Cowboy') as the bar and go from there. We're learning every day how to survive, but so far so good."



• Yelawolf is also buzzing over his role as Ratboy, one of the thugs in "The Peanut Butter Player" film that came out during the summer. I met the writer (Tyler Nilson), and he was like 'Yo man, I've had this part, Ratboy, I wrote for you -- actually exactly for you' and, man, I was sold on the story at dinner. He didn't even tell me about Sia (LeBeouf) and Dakota (Johnson), one of that. I was just in, and when I finally got to Savannah (Ga.) to do the movie it was pretty intimidating, man. I was John Hawkes sidekick, and he's just incredible. But acting came natural -- or maybe it was just that role that came natural. I'm really, really, really proud to be part of such a great story; I hate that I was such an ***hole in the film, but somebody's gotta do it."



Yelawolf, The Outfit, TX and Wild the Coyote, and Badd Wolff performs Friday, Nov. 15, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors at 7 p.m. $35-$49.50. 313-961-5451 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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