Friday, November 18, 2011

Yelawolf Full Interview

When we did this interview, it had just been announced that Radio Active was being pushed to Nov 21 for release, and Yelawolf was walking his video "Hard White" onto 106 and Park.

Our first interview with Yelawolf, he talked a lot about the childhood years he spent in Nashville (INTERVIEW HERE). So this time we wanted to talk about Radio Active and The Slumerican Movement. He was a bit tight lipped about Radio Active, preferring to let the music be a surprise for fans when it drops. But besides the music he really opened up and gave us well thought, honest answers. Here is the unedited interview.

CONCRETE: Radioactive was pushed to a November 21 drop date to do some "finishing touches'. The Source Magazine gave the project 4.5 mics, so what finishing touches need to be made to a 4.5 mic project?
Yelawolf: Nothing musically. The translation is a little off. There's some things around the ... it's kind of hard to say without blowing the surprise. We got some things we're working on that's between the release date that's for the fans. Just to create more awareness for the album. Just a couple of surprises. There's some shit that's going to go down between now and the release. Musically there were just a couple of mixes. There's nothing going to change with the music itself. There were just a couple of mixes I wanted to get in and tighten up. I'm just very picky man. But musically it's not going to change. The album that got reviewed is the same album that people are going to hear.

CONCRETE: You're on the Hard White Tour. Is this your first headlining tour?
Yelawolf: Yeah. Well I ran an East Coast tour. I did Minneapolis during that tour too when I did the Trunk Music Tour. I did New York. This is the first time I've ventured out West. I did Boulder and Denver, and I'm in Idaho tonight. So this is the first time I've been out here to these areas myself as the headliner. It's going great. The fans are coming out and getting rowdy. And I got DJ Craze out with me this time. I got my first two roadies out here with me. So it's dope.

CONCRETE: Who are your roadies. The ATL twins?
Yelawolf: Nah. The Twins?! Yeah right! (laughs) Brooklyn is my road manager or tour manager. My man Bobby Straight Edge is the stage manager. So them two together, they're making it happen. I got a more produced show this time. There's a little more attention as far as the stage. It's more official this go around.

CONCRETE: You seem real laid back when you're not performing. On stage and in the booth you have a lot of energy. Do you have any rituals or anything you do to get ready?
Yelawolf: People have asked me, 'Man what's wrong with you.' And I'm like, 'Nothing. Just chillin.' I'm not performing right now. I'm just chillin.' I guess because the way I see a performance, It's a performance! Some artists would rather take the energy that they have day to day on stage. I like to transform and become a part of the record and really just rock out with the fans and to make a connection. That just comes from being inspired by it. Performers like Axel Rose, or Redman or Mystical, Triple-6-Mafia shows, Jim Morrison. I watch a lot of festival footage like Rage Against the Machine, Primus. I just try and capture that energy and make sure the shows is fun to be at and something they'll never forget.

CONCRETE: We saw a track list for Radio Active. Who are some of the producers you worked with on the project?
Yelawolf: Well anything that was leaked out to the public as far as the track list, we still have to leave something for surprise. The cover art dropped this morning. We're giving people enough. This is a project that I've waited years and years to put out. I've told people enough about features and production features.

CONCRETE: Did you work with Diplo?
Yelawolf: Yeah.

CONCRETE: We've heard he also stayed in Tennessee for a while. Did that come up in any conversations with him?
Yelawolf: Diplo's the homie. Outside of making music, he's just a cool-ass dude. When we see each other we kick it. I met him first at Coachella Festival. We just hung out and started chopping it up. We finally got the opportunity to work on a project. He sent me music and I was just blown away. I wrote the record and that was that. I ended up getting FeFe Dodson on the hook. It's crazy. The rocerd turned out phenomenol. As far as talking. I know he spent some time in the South. He told me about that. You can sense it in his music though. There's a lot of bounce in his music.

CONCRETE: It's out there that Eminem is on the project also. What's it like working with him as an artist also knowing he's the head of Shady Records that you're signed to? How do you draw that line? Is that weird?
Yelawolf: Nah. Nah. It never really crosses my mid that he runs Shady Records when we're making music. That doesn't really matter. That's not even a thought really. After we start putting up the album and crunching down the records, adding on or taking away. It's all a creative process. There's no business. When they start crunching numbers and shit like that, that's where you call in management. That's a whole different discussion. As far as making muisc, we're just making music. You get in there and have fun and make records, that's what we do. That's the best part about the whole journey is when you're in the studio making classics. When you record a record and you know it's something special it's the best feeling in the world. There is no line to be drawn to answer the question. When you're making records, business doesn't exist. We don't even talk about that shit when we're making records.

CONCRETE: You've dropped the first single from Radio Active, "Hard White." How did you decide that would be the first single?
Yelawolf: Well "Hard White" we felt was just a good buzz record. As far as first big single, we knew that it was a dope record and it could grow its own legs. But we also knew that it was a little too hardcore for certain markets or whatever. But it started growing it's own wings. The record started moving by itself. Sometimes you just never know what a record is going to do. We personally didn't expect too much out of "Hard White." We just knew that it was a good record. It wasn't our 'best foot forward' but it was good burner for the streets. It wasn't too far left of Trunk Music. It wasn't alienating the fans we had created with Trunk Music. It made sense. It was a good burner for the streets. We shot a video. The video turned out great. It's getting picked up. (It's on) MTV. It's getting picked up by 106 and Park today. I'm walking it on today (10/7). So yeah, it kind of grew its own legs. We have records we feel like our going to make leaps and bounds for me and for the album. And also for people's perspective of what I'm capable of doing and where I'm about to go.

CONCRETE: In the song "Hard White" there's a lyric "Rest in peace Wayne Bush", and we recently saw you send him a birthday wish on Twitter. Who is Wayne Bush?
Yelawolf: Wayne Bush was one of my best friends. I tweeted that on his birthday (Sept 26). He died in a motorcycle accident a few years back. Basically he was a young dude off the streets. He was a single parent of two daughters that would wake up every morning and take them school and pick them up out of school. He sold weed for a living and was really, really good at it. He made a lot of money. But he was one of the best people in the world. He would come and help me to survive really when I was at the bottom. He put money into a studio. He would carry me to shows. He just supported me fully. He put a studio in my house on a street called South 11th Street. He would have all his boys come over and help me make money by charging them for studio time. He was just one of the best dudes. He was so involved with me musically that I know if he was alive today he would be on the bus right now. That's who Wayne Bush is.

CONCRETE: Can you break down what the Slumerican movement is all about and who is affiliated?
Yelawolf: Slumerican is a cultural brand. It's a family of like-minded people. Me, myself I'm the President, Mr. President. Lower Managment, Jon Newport. The original Tyler the Creator, Tyler is the creative director. He did the album art for RadioActive. He's doing the artwork for Slumerican. Basically, things we've always wanted to see shirts. People that we want to associate ourselves with based on their genius. It could be a skateboarder. It could be a photographer. It could be a rapper. It could be a singer, guitar player. It could be a professional beer drinker. Just rad people that came from the bottom and are proud of the American culture. Because, it's obviously a play on words, but it's patriotic. It just represents the underbelly of it all. The people that make our world go round, the 9-to-5ers. So we just started associating the name with people we were backing. Rittz from Gwinett County (Georgia), obviously Newport as a skateboarder, Tyler is also our photographer, an ill-ass photographer. So I actually rocked the first shirt that we put up, on the front it says 'The Losers Win Again' and I'm wearing it on 106 today. That's the first shirt that we've made. Some more gear coming out of the brand. It's slum patriotic.

CONCRETE: How did you link up with Struggle?
Yelawolf: I met Struggle through Alex King. He's another rapper from Nashville, rapper, entrepreneur, this fool does everything. Alex Hustle is his nickname. I met Struggle through him and we just clicked. It was just one of those things. We just clicked straight up. Even before I knew that he was rapping. 'Oh shit, you do music?' Then come to find out he's Waylon Jennings grandson. Which I was like, 'What the fuck?! Seriously?' I couldn't believe that. he was like, "Yeah man I'm Waylon's grandson." His story is just phenomenal. He came out of the streets. He became a huge dope-boy out of Nashville. He has 32 prior convictions. He's been shot at and shot. His street story is amazing while maintaining a relationship with his grandfather who has now passed. So now they have collabs. Shooter, Waylon's son, he had unreleased masters to Waylon Jennings originals for struggle to do a collabo. So it's a Struggle and Waylon callabo album they're working on right now. It's crazy man. It's something that hip-hop has never heard and country music have never heard a project like this before. This intense and this real. It's pretty dope.

CONCRETE: So we see one of your listed occupations as "professional drinker." Are you sponsored by Jack Daniels?
Yelaowlf: Actually I am. They brought cases of it to the "Hard White" video shoot. They brought me the big Jack Daniels statue. They invited me to the distillery and tour the company and go an the tastings and shit. I'm not sure if they're ready to fully commercialize it, but they're backing me. I'm psyched about that.

CONCRETE: You still doing tre-flips at the DGK Playground?
Yelawolf: I did a tre-flip over a gap or off a ramp or something.

CONCRETE: Who's your favorite skater of all time?
Yelawolf: Of all time?

Yelawolf: Dude there's just so many with so many different reasons. I guess one of the first, most influencial people street skateboarding, well there's two Matt Hensley and Tom Penny as far as street skateboarding. Ramp skateboarders Danny Way is probably my all time favorite vert ramp skater. Who else, Rune Glifberg was another ill-ass vert ramp skater. But Danny Way has just pushed it. He's just the gnarliest ever. One of my favorite current skateboarders is Paul Rodriguez and Torey Pudwell. His Big Bang part was insane. Grant Taylor is also like new breezes, game changer. The way he can skate tranny and street, that's just the evolution of skateboarding. Andrew Reynolds, (Mike) Carroll the whole Plan B squad. Marc Johnson, there's just a lot when you start thinking about it. Shit man Kareem Campbell.

CONCRETE: Have you ever hooked up with Jamie Thomas? He's from Alabama.
Yelawolf: Yeah. I've skated with Jamie. Damn, can't forget Jamie either man. Just to add to the question, you know skateboarding has always been style oriented to me. Like a person's style could always over-ride their trick ability. I could just watch a person's steez. One person could switch 180 up a curb and it just looks so much more steezy than one other dude's tre-flip. It's just fun to watch certain skateboarders skateboard so it's really hard to pick my favorite. Technically I think I've mentioned enough. There's still a lot of underground homies that are ripping it that I love to watch skateboard like Josh Dowd and Newport, the whole Last of the Mohiquan Squad (VIDEO HERE) the Miami Squad.

CONCRETE: What do you think about Lil Wayne putting out all these videos from different skate parks?
Yelawolf: I think that what it does, looking at the brighter side of that situation, is that some Lil Wayne fan is going to pick up a skateboard and it might be the next best skateboarder the world has ever seen. Some 7 year old kid who's the hugest Lil Wayne fan is like, "Fuck that I'm going to skateboard." And they might have some natural ability. I was pretty lucky. My roots are pretty ill. The first skateboard the reasons that I started skateboarding when I was 6 years old I was all about the Bones Brigade. I had Steve Cabellero Half-Cabs, (by Vans) all the most legit shit, just because I was surrounded by the right people I guess. For people that never had an interest to skateboard, if Lil Wayne fans see him skateboarding they might be inspired to go skate. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just a culture that you've got to respect. Who knows, he might stick with it and get better. He might quit, who knows. I think it takes a while. Unless you can throw down a board and cruise, mob down the street with the homies, ollie around up on curbs and off curbs without looking like you're clumsy, you can't really call yourself a skateboarder. You got to be able to mob comfortably. You've got to look really comfortable on a skateboard.

CONCRETE: So did you go to the Antioch skatepark when you lived in Nashville?
Yelawolf: Damn. High Rollers. Damn man, I got bodied there. I tried to drop in on that vert ramp, straight to flat. That was all about spine ramps and Chucka Boots, the original snap backs with the flat bills. Dude skateboarders pioneered so much of style that it's just crazy to me.

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