Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Despite setbacks, ‘Radioactive’ is a solid statement from Yelawolf

Posted on December 02, 2011 in Album Reviews
By Nick Capeless

DGC/Shady Records/Interscope

Hailing from the slums of Gadsden, AL, Yelawolf is no stranger to white trash.  Hell, he even has “Red” tattooed on his neck.  (Get it?). As the newest addition to Eminem’s Shady Records roster, Yelawolf has proven he’s an exception to the often disastrous “White Southern Rap” game. His influences in Southern rock, country and blues are clear on his major label debut album Radioactive, and he touches on them all without being overly campy.

Yelawolf’s strongest skill is clearly his delivery: His trademark rapid-fire rapping is ever present, but he occasionally does slow it down for a little bit of soft singing. Often, he shows off that he can rap as fast as some of the game’s best, like on album stand out, “Animal.” Over a key and synth-heavy beat made by crossover dubstep producers Diplo and Boregore, Yela delivers clever lines faster than hell: “Trashy white, pass the mic, Yeah I’m doing ‘em dirty/ Fists start pumping when I’m in the lights, like I’m rapping in Jersey.”

Though tracks that emphasize only word play are present, there are others like “Write Your Name” where the proud southern-son slows down his rapping in an ode to the people of his home state:  “Another old man on the porch with the bottle/ Wind blows and the old rocking chair wobbles.” Piano notes combine with bouncy drums and vast synthesizers, creating a soothing and almost charming effect, making the track a highlight of the album.

Radioactive has its downfalls though, from an appalling Kid Rock chorus on “Let’s Roll” to the sad attempt at sounding like Rage Against the Machine on “Growin’ Up In The Gutter;” or obvious pop/R&B filler like “Good Girl,” there are a few spots that feel so forced for commercial radio, it’s hard to take the album seriously.

Overall Radioactive is a solid debut album for Yelawolf, and though it’s a little more polished and less raw or gritty than some of his earlier work, like the Arena Rap EP or Trunk Muzik mixtape, he puts together something that will satisfy older fans while also appealing to new ones. Not many hip-hop fans have even heard of him, but with Eminem and Shady Records behind him, the future looks bright for Yelawolf.

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