Showing posts with label yelawolf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yelawolf. Show all posts

Monday, December 2, 2019

video review: 'ghetto cowboy' by yelawolf

Okay, so Resonators is going to be dropping at some point tomorrow evening along with Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

album review: 'ghetto cowboy' by yelawolf

So when I reviewed Yelawolf's Trunk Muzik III earlier this year, I made the observation that you could tell he wasn't happy with his label Shady, under the purview of Eminem. Actually, that's probably an understatement, because with every listen I gave that album I got the unpleasant impression that not only did it feel like a slapdash rush to get something out that would get him away from Shady, he did it by getting a verse from Machine Gun Kelly to boot as a final middle finger to them. And on some level I couldn't really blame Yelawolf - at this point Shady's inability to promote any artist who is not named Eminem towards mainstream success is becoming common knowledge, and given that he could have easily made a killing in a year where hip-hop and country crossovers were surging in the mainstream, it's more than a little depressing that didn't happen.

But at the time I also said that I was worried Trunk Muzik III didn't leave Yelawolf in the best place going forward if he wanted to hop to another label - but that was assuming he was going to chase another major label at all. Instead, less than a year later we have Ghetto Cowboy, where Yelawolf has trimmed down his features for a leaner project on his own label Slumerican for a pretty quick rebound, and while I tend to be skeptical of artists releasing more than one album in a year, given what he was leaving I was inclined to be supportive. And hey, I'm a Yelawolf fan and I was pleased to see this sell a bit better than I was expecting, so maybe there was something worthwhile here, so what did we get on Ghetto Cowboy?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

video review: 'trunk muzik iii' by yelawolf

So yeah, this was... really disappointing, tbh. I had a lot of hopes for this, and they just did not come through...

Anyway, I'd like to get the next episode of the Trailing Edge out the door and I need more time with billy woods, Quelle Chris, and Devin Townsend, so stay tuned!

album review: 'trunk muzik iii' by yelawolf

So look, as much as I don't want to go here, there's no way to talk about the current intersection of country and hip-hop than this whole Lil Nas X debacle. Now I gave my opinion on all of this fairly recently - there are weird conversations of cultural exchange, not helped by 'Old Town Road' being a joke song that could feel vaguely credible with the genre especially given what's been let in recently and then was spun in a disingenuous nature after the song was yanked from the Billboard Country Charts, which I'd put up more to Nashville and Music Row interference than anything else. But there's a question that's not being answered in most of this conversation, and it's this: putting aside blatant opportunism, did Lil Nas X really care about landing on the country charts? Was he looking to carve out a space in the genre, or was just aiming to grab the free playlist promo?

And I bring this up because there are acts that are trying to carve out a niche in both country and hip-hop, to be credible and respectful of the sound in both lanes and treat this seriously - and the most prominent in the 2010s is Yelawolf. He might have started out in straightforward southern hip-hop, but by 2015's Love Story he was actively fusing in country tones that worked better than anyone expected, which he followed up in 2017 in Trial By Fire. And while the mainstream music press had a hard time grappling with the sonic fusion, his raw sales success and organic groundswell proved there was something there that could work... but since he's signed to Shady, his mainstream promotion was non-existent and neither album seemed to have the impact they should, especially Trial By Fire. Thankfully, his new project Trunk Muzik III was his last project before he could get away, and a straightforward return to southern hip-hop - which I'll admit seemed to be a disappointment coming from manufacturing a distinctive lane, but if that's what's needed to recapture the mainstream attention before he goes indie or re-signs to another label, I guess I'll take it for now. What irked me more was how he had stepped away from the producer's chair, but fine: what did we get on Trunk Muzik III?

Monday, October 30, 2017

video review: 'trial by fire' by yelawolf

So the most common comment I've been seeing is that people forgot this album was coming out... not a good sign for album promotion, and a damn shame too - the album is great, and with 'Sabrina' is at least worth the cost of admission.

Eh, whatever - next up is Weezer, but before then we've got Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

album review: 'trial by fire' by yelawolf

I'm not sure how to talk about Yelawolf these days. I'd like to open up this review with a discussion how after the underwhelming Radioactive he pivoted into a country rap vein for his sophomore project Love Story in 2015, an album I still think is underrated to this day. Seriously, even though that record definitely has its flaws - Yelawolf was still ironing out kinks in the genre fusion and the record probably ran too long for its own good - two songs from that album made my year-end list that year, and while both a considerable percentage of country and hip-hop fans seems utterly allergic to the concept, speaking as somebody who knows both genres and who has heard entirely too many bro-country acts try hip-hop flows, Yelawolf was ahead of the curve. He was a good rapper - you don't get signed to Shady if you're not - he had good taste in country, and he was willing to write frankly about the common topics that only underground hip-hop and indie country would touch - poverty, depression, alcoholism, and a backwoods that felt far more textured and realistic than any bro-country pandering.

And if we could just proceed to the new album from there, I'd be thrilled... but let's be blunt, Yelawolf has had a bad couple of years since Love Story. He got considerable - and justified - backlash for his Confederate flag comments which led a lot of hip-hop to want nothing to do with him, his friend Shawty Fatt was killed in a car accident, and when you factor in the pressures to exceed Love Story's success, you can see why it led to a breakdown on tour last year, which led to dates being cancelled and caused Trial By Fire to be pushed back. And yet he pulled it together - a full-hour long release with guest appearances from both hip-hop and country that he produced entirely himself, and enough drama to surely inform the subject matter. So, what did I find in this Trial By Fire?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

video review: 'love story' by yelawolf

Unsurprisingly, some of the reception of this album has been mixed, but for a guy who has always loved country and hip-hop, the fusion works stunningly well and I really dug this record. 

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN! Stay tuned!

album review: 'love story' by yelawolf

I've been getting requests to cover this for months now. Ever since I said that I was both a hip-hop reviewer and the only country music critic on YouTube, I've gotten asked to talk about Yelawolf, affiliated with Shady Records and one of the more perplexing talents to be affiliated with Eminem.

But before I talk about Yelawolf, I need to talk about the fusion of country and hip-hop, country rap. Believe it or not, country and hip-hop have a disturbing amount in common, which is why I'm always baffled why so many people are amazed I like both of them. I mean, country and hip-hop are both driven by strong regional pride. Both are genres that are used to telling stories, and both love their alpha-male heroes, especially if they're outlaws. Both as of right now have a serious problem sustaining female talent in the mainstream without overt sexualization, and both have been going through significant growing pains when it comes to more progressive audiences.  Both aren't afraid to speak about the real problems of the downtrodden and talk about real social issues... or at least they used to be before what got popular were songs about booze, cars, and butts. 

So what do we get with country rap? Well, many people think it started with artists like Uncle Kracker and Bubba Sparxxx in the early 2000s, gaining traction with the success of acts like Colt Ford. And I'll be blunt - most of it is goddamn terrible, thanks mostly to the fact that it caters to the lowest common denominator and generally suffers from a serious deficiency in rapping talent. And thus the choice of Yelawolf to start moving towards more of a gritty, country-influenced sound has always intrigued me. He started off with a ton of buzz off of well-received mixtapes... buzz that mostly went out the window thanks to the generally underwhelming and messy Radioactive. The frustrating thing is that Yelawolf is a solid and unique rapper, at least from a technical perspective, but his production really let him down, generally sounding thin and underweight. The album suffered from a serious lack of focus and texture - Yelawolf is a spitter, but he didn't exactly blow me away or show off the elements that made him so unique and distinctive.

Well, it's clear Yelawolf understood that, because he took the criticism to heart and after an EP with Ed Sheeran - which makes way too much sense when you think about it - he dropped another mixtape and finally has released his sophomore release. And the look of it is much different. Recorded in Nashville, with only Eminem as a guest star and with a very limited number of producers, this looked to be something grittier, with the single 'Till It's Gone' on both it and SHADY XV suggesting a sound that was closer to country rap than anything else. So you bet I was curious about the album and dove in: how is it?

Monday, November 24, 2014

video review: 'shady xv' by eminem & shady records

There are more important - and vastly more enraging - issues going on tonight, but still, the album is worth talking about. Worth your time.

Next up... Christ, another Rick Ross album. Really?

album review: 'shady xv' by eminem & shady records

I wish I had a better feeling about this album going into it than I did.

See, when I heard Eminem was talking about launching a collaboration album, I immediately had very real concerns, because I remembered when this happened eight years ago with Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, a record that had a few pretty decent songs but really was nothing all that special. I'll reiterate what I said back in March when I reviewed the Young Money compilation project, that these sorts of records are made for three purposes: reassert the strengths of the old talent; show some cool interplay across your label; and show off the new guys.

And yet Shady Records is in a bit of an odd position. In comparison with its other rap label peers, it's proved to have a shaky track record of establishing definitive new stars. Albums from Yelawolf and Slaughterhouse proved to be non-starters even despite their very real talent, and while the Bad Meets Evil project was the biggest shot of adrenaline to Royce de 5'9'''s career possible, the last EP Hell: The Sequel hasn't exactly been a record I've really revisited outside of maybe one or two songs. That's not saying I wouldn't enjoy the wordplay of records like Shady XV, but I definitely did not have high expectations.

And there were other issues too, with the lead-off single 'Guts Over Fear' being one of the Eminem's least interesting opening singles for a project ever, and while I understood bringing on Sia and Skylar Grey for hooks, why the hell was Danny Brown, DeJ Loaf, Trick Trick, and Big Sean on this album? Sure, I get it, Detroit rappers, but wouldn't it make more sense to stick with your label if you're looking to push them? And while I get putting money behind Danny Brown and DeJ Loaf, Trick-Trick hasn't been relevant in years and Big Sean shouldn't be relevant, period. And the fact that this album was also being included with a disc of former Shady Records 'hits', most of which are from artists who are no longer signed, screamed of either Interscope's interference to guarantee their investment, or pure desperation.

But you know, this is Eminem, and even though his track record has been inconsistent, he's still got a solid group of rappers behind him, so this might be pretty solid, right?