Yelawolf stamp of approval:
People used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up; now they ask me what I am going to do when I graduate. While this same question has evolved over time, I’m still as clueless as I was when I was 10. In a way, I kind of feel bad for people who know exactly what they want to do before they even graduate high school. If my focus in life is aimed too directly, I’m scared tunnel vision might take away opportunities I would have never knew existed. It’s the uncertainty that drives us into exploring our talents and pushes us to take risks.
Judging by his life story, I don’t think Yelawolf had any idea what he wanted to be when he grew up either. Between working dead-end jobs, going to Alaska to become a fishermen, and drifting in Cali while attempting to become a professional skateboarder, I’m sure Yela might have had an existential moment or two about his future. But his failures (if you can call them that) led him back home to ‘Bama and taking a shot at this music thing.
At 31 years old, I don’t know if Michael Wayne Atha knows what he is gonna do when he gets older. But, if he wants to become a rapper, this is his chance.
Hit the skip for the full transcript and audio. If you need a Yelawolf primer before reading, make sure to peep Mr. Alexanders biopic of the budding rap star. Among other nuggets, expect talk about his family, favorite dranks, crew, and most importantly, his take on hip-hop music and culture.
Clutch: Whattup man how you doin?
Yelawolf: Solid. I’m at Ruins skate shop right now. Ruins skate shop in ATL. In the shoe room surrounded by SB’s.
Clutch: What colorway are you eyeing?
Yelawolf: Well, there is this new fucking, um, I like the shaun janowski actually. The low top chillers, man. I might just cop a pair while I’m here. Are ya’ll some sneakerheads?
Dizzy: You already know man, got like a hundred Jordans in my closet.
Yelawolf: Yea man, I’m looking at straight SB’s and Supras. So if you got a truck, meet me at the back door. We’ll hold them for ransom.
Clutch: Speaking of fashion, we know you did a guest spot for Karmaloop recently, how feel fashion playing into your career at all? Do you see yourself becoming a fashion connousieer? A fashion idol at all?
Yelawolf: I never really thought about it. Me and my moms, my mom was a single mother, bartender, for my whole life and she used to just give me money to go to goodwill because that was just about it, ya know? Yea, we couldn’t afford to get nice shit. I’ve been skateboarding my whole life, but I still couldn’t afford all the skate shit either; I got hand me down boards, hand me down skate kicks. My mom would give me 20 or 50 bucks and I’d go down to Good Will, and get my own shit, ya know? So, ya know, necessity kind of spawned creativity. So I’m really, just now, starting to get boxes from people, and starting to explore brands and what not.
Clutch: Do you feel your fashion sense now reflect what you grew up wearing?
Yelawolf: Yea, I mean for sure. I’ve always been on my own tip, kinda, ya know? I could take the same kind of kick anyone else got, but they are gonna look different on my feet, ya know?
Dizzy: Yea man, speaking of fashion and everything, what inspired your haircut?
Yelawolf: I don’t know man. I’ve always had either a shaved head or long hair there was nothing else. I would just shave it, and let it grow out. Ya know, rock a hat until it got bad news bears. I would keep growing it and growing it, until it got down to my waist, and I would shave it again. I was kinda just like, looking at old All Parata videos, and seeing the half shaved head, half long on one side. I kinda just mixed that up with a mullet. I dont know, I was just trippin’.
Dizzy: How many tattoos do you have again? Whats the exact number?
Yelawolf: Yea I got like 25, 26. I gotta start doing some smaller shit, cause I’m running out of big space.
Clutch: When was the last time you got one?
Yelawolf: Shit, I was under the gun, like, its been a couple months man. I got crazy on the road, out with Wiz, and back and forth from LA and shit. So, I gotta start making time to get back in the shop, but, I’m working with my homie Ephraim Inc., Marrietta, and my homeboy Jeremy from Old School Ink. Those are a few dudes that I fuck with, but I’m gonna start jumping in some random shops around the country. I did my photo shoot yesterday for my album cover, Trunk Muzik: 0-60. We had this ’60 Chevelle, and on the license plate it said “Heart of Dixie”. I just thought that was hard as shit, so, I think I’m gonna get “Heart of Dixie” tatooed.
Clutch: Do you wanna give us a picture of what that album cover is gonna look like? Do you know?
Yelawolf: Ya know man, we took literally over 2,000 pictures. We shot for like 13 hours. It was ill though, we had a ’69 Chevelle, a big block hood scoop. Beautiful Chevy’s man. We had a Chevy Malibu drop top, of course we had the box chevy. So we took pictures with a lot of different cars, to keep it seemless with the title, 0 – 60. But we also just shot neighboorhood shots around my neighboorhood, and whatever man, whatever makes the most sense. I know one shot that will probably make the cut, I sat behind the Chevelle, and he just burned rubber for lights for 3 minutes. I was just posted behind the Chevelle, and they letting it burn. It turned out to be really good picture, I’m surrounded by smoke and shit.
Clutch: That’s whats up. So when we first got interested in interviewing you, I basically e-mailed your manager, and he got back to me in about 5 minutes, hooked me up with Seneca. He got back to me really quickly and within an hour this was set up. How do you feel about your team? How do you feel about your management and the people around you and how do they affect your career?
Yelawolf: Aww man, I have the greatest team in the world. Straight up, I’ll put my team against anybody. Hardest working crew you could ask for, ya know? Me and Jeremy, Jeremy Jones who is the first manager I had. We worked really hard until we met Brother Bear, who became co-manager with Jeremy Jones, and bear just maxed our work ethic. Everybody just found their position. And when we found Senece, ya know, we have a group of people who enjoy being good at what they do, ya know? And I think some crews have people who wanna be stars within that crew, and they dont understand that, being a great manager is better than being a great manager who wants to be in all the photographs all the time.
Dizzy: It’s funny you say that, cause I know KP was the one who brought T.I. and the whole young bloods into the game, right?
Yelawolf: Yea, KP, ya know, and humbly…I think thats what makes a great team, you have a crew of people who believe in you as an artist and there’s no pride about putting you in the front seat. We mash together dog. I couldn’t ask for a better crew.
Dizzy: So your still with the Ghet-O-Vision dudes? Even though you guys are all with Interscope, right?
Yelawolf: Yea, when I signed with Colombia, we did Red Pipe Colombia, and we were with Ghet-O-Vision KP, but when we left Colombia, we made it officially the lead label Ghet-O-Vision. And we went independent the past couple years. After we dropped Trunk Muzik and started catching the momentum of Trunk Muzik, we signed Ghet-O-Vision to Interscope, so its a Ghet-O-Vision/Interscope deal
Dizzy: So you have an album coming up in September, and we heard through the grapevine there might be an Eminem collabo on that, that might have happened recently. What are the chances between one and ten that that’s happening?
Yelawolf: I would give it a 10 working with Eminem. Whether its going to be on this particular project, I couldn’t even tell you man. I’m definitely trying to work with Em in the future. Dude is super busy, you know what I’m saying? With my project and touring, its just about whenever fate makes it happen. But I’m ready for sure.
Clutch: So I know that for the Slim Thug video “I Run” you couldn’t make video shoot because you were at home for Christma right?
Clutch: And I know that, when you were younger, I check out an interview earlier, you said that when you were in school you were writing down rhymes, and your principal found it. And he was some douchy, toopae guy, try to suspend you, and your mom came in and had your back. So basically I wanna get your take on what your family means to you, and how they support you and the function your mom plays in your life right now.
Yelawolf: Well man, like, yesterday, the perfect example of family is when I pulled into Gadsen from Atlanta I was just pulling in for the photo shoot. I had no cars for the shoot. And I’m talking about, we are starting this shoot when I pull up. So, I just pulled into Gadsen, I’m like 10 minutes from my crib. I pulled this dude over randomly riding down the street in a Malibu, he’s cool hes coming out, ya know he is gonna come to the shoot, just straight stranger. I’m rollin down the street getting closer to my mom’s house, the dude with the ’69 Chevelle stopped him, he comes out, no problem, he’s comin out to support. I get to my crib, my mom has cooked a meal for the whole crew. My pops went out and got beer, ya know what I’m saying? Hospitable to everybody. Throughout the whole day, it was just friends and family making it happen, and it was the easiest day possible, based on support from my family and friend. My grandparents came through, ya know? I think…not just my family, but the South period instills that in you. I mean, family values out here man, its strong. I would not be here, doing this, If I didn’t have family support. I would just be some dirtbag skateboarder, fucking lurking out for the rest of my life if I didnt’ have my family telling me to stick with it, supporting me.
Dizzy: Yea man, thats whats up. We also know that you were out in Norway, just last week, at the Hove music festival? You wanna talk little bit about how it was to be overseas? What the reception was like over there for you?
Yelawolf: Yea, that shit was crazy man. 8 hour flight to Paris, 2 and a half hour flight from Paris to Oslow, 4 and a half hour drive from Oslow to Aarondale, where the festival was. And then the Sun then don’t go down. Yea, the sun goes down about 12 then comes back around 3AM.
Clutch: Yea, we saw some footage of the concert, and it was bright daylight out, but what time was that concert at?
Yelawolf: We went on at 5:30, in the day. But man, its just like a non-stop party man. Everybody over there speaks English…the women there are unbelievable. Ugly girls are cute in Norway bro. I’ve never seen anything like it. Over the past 200 or 300 years they just eliminated all ugly girls.
Clutch: Speaking of women, people kinda of know who you are, especially people who come to your concerts and stuff, how has your interaction with women evolved the past couple years? More cocky, more humble?
Yelawolf: Just to keep it 100% with people, I’ve always been that dude, I’ve always been able to pull off some…Like when I was in Nashville, this chick was like, Carmen Electra fine, like back in the day. She was actually, like, famous around the high schools and shit. I was a freshman and she was a senior, and I was dead broke, skate holes in my shoes, and she would come pick me up in her car. Everyday, just full pimpin’.
Dizzy: That’s every man’s dream right there, man.
Yelawolf: So, ya know, I’ve always never really had a problem with that. The man different is that now, the main reason chicks wanna holla at me, it used to be just that I was cool, I was a skateboard and I was just diffferent, now they just wanna holla cause I’m on stage. They see me online or in magazines. Its whatever, ya know what I’m saying?
Clutch: So would you say that’s kinda like the seeds of “Speak Her Sex”?
Yelawolf: Yea, thats exactly what its for. The record….if this is what turns you on, just press play, fuck it.
Dizzy: What was the worst pick up line you ever used, ever?
Yelawolf: Oh my God, I’m the worst. I don’t think I’ve ever had a good one. Straight up, I have no game. I’ve learned to just shut up and drink beer, and when she gets drunk enoough we’ll start talking. I have no game dog, forreal.
Dizzy: You got the no game kinda game, thats game in and of itself.
Yelawolf: Straight up, I’ve always been a nerd. I don’t know how to talk to chicks. I saw whats up and then its just awkward.
Clutch: So what would you say, not neccesarilly in respect to girls, was one of your most embarrasing situations?
Yelawolf: Being younger, man. Well, not having bread has always been the worst. Ya know what I’m saying? Not being able to take chicks out and do the stuff I’d really like to do, and just kind of trying to play it off like, wait until I get my check. That’s always awkward and embarrasing, ya know what I’m saying? Fuck man, and that was pretty much all the time. I was just a broken skateboarder on the streets, I didn’t have money to take chicks anywhere.
Clutch: Have you had any really funny experiences so far on the road in the last year or so?
Yelawolf: I had this old lady just straight get naked at Lenny’s bar one night. She might been 60, bro. I guess that where she lurks at, thats where she hangs out. I dont know…but we had a show there. Man, she got crunk. She took her shirt off, her titties fell down to her waist. Ya know what I’m saying? It was awesome.
Clutch: Did she know the words to every Yelawolf song?
Yelawolf: (haha) Actually she didn’t, she didn’t even know who I was, it didn’t even matter. She was just drunk and happy to be there.
Clutch: Word. Speaking of drinks….
Dizzy: We know you mess with the Jack, we know you mess with that already.
Clutch: Is there a drink at the bar some guy will get you, or a girl or whatever, and your just like, what the hell, I’m not drinking this.
Yelawolf: Yea…I don’t fuck with….I hate Vodka man. That shit…I can’t stand Vodka. Jager, I know most white boys are on that Jager dog, but not me. I can’t hang with Jager. I yak on Jager. Don’t bring me no white ish, stick to the country classics. Whisky, the Jim Beam’s, the Jack’s, the dark shit. Bourbon, I could fuck with Bourbon. Of course cheap beer, I like ice cold cheap beer.
Dizzy: Pabst baby.
Clutch: PBR? Still fucking with PBR?
Yelawolf: Yea I’ll fuck with Pabst all day. Pabst, Natural Ice, Busch, ya know what I’m saying. I like to tap the Rockies. I was tapping the Rockies yesterday all day.
Clutch: I know Pabst has kinda become this…We are from New York City and we know a bunch of different types of people, and Pabst, up here in the north at least, its kinda become a hipster trend. So you’ll see these hipster walking around, they are always drinking PBR. Is that even a factor in the South? Do people look at Pabst like a hipster beer?
Yelawolf: Ya know what, I’ve noticed that, and I swear to God in just 3 years, it has become like that. I remember it was not cool at all. You couldn’t even find it. Now there are Pabst billboards, there sneaking them in all the little Five Points, all the little hipster areas. I’m starting to see that, but ya know, whatever. Those kids, they’ll drink it and they won’t drink it next year. I’ll still be drinking it. I was drinking it before.
Dizzy: Word. Back to the music, what music are you listening to right now? What was the last album you bought? And who are some dudes you are really diggin’ right now?
Yelawolf: Ofcourse, I’m on that Big Boi. I’ve been rolling on that. Sir Luscious, ya know? Chico Dusty, incredible, I love that album. I been on that Wiz Khalifa, obviously. Nipsey Hustle. Big K.R.I.T., oh my God. Ay dog, watch out, Big K.R.I.T. Has got that shit dog. I’m telling you. I sent a tweet out that Big K.R.I.T. stood up right next to Trunk Muzik, like a cousin. I think he captured the South perfectly. Ya know? Huge Big K.R.I.T. fan off the top. And that’s pretty much it, man, in terms of hip-hop. I’m still riding the classic rock, ya know? I rode to the doors on the way to ATL today.
Clutch: So what about the last album you bought personally?
Yelawolf: When I was at Sound Set I bought the whole Heiroglyphics collection. Yea I re-bought all of that. That was the last album I purchased.
Clutch: Was that the Full Circle one?
Yelawolf: Yea, I bought Full Circle. I bought ’93 Til, I bought Del’s old classic, cause they had their booth up there at Sound Set, and I just got it all.
Clutch: I’m actually a really big fan of Hieroglyphics. Have you had a chance to meet Del or anything?
Yelawolf: Yea, I met Del, Fresco, Casual, A-Plus, Opio, Domino, I met the whole crew while I was up there at Sound Set. It was crazy man. They did ’93 Til, they did You’ll never know, live, it was crazy man.
Clutch: Are they funny dudes?
Yelawolf: I mean, we didn’t hang out to the point where we got into full conversation, I kinda just shook hands and that was it.
Dizzy: Ya know it’s funny man, we see a lot of new cats around who don’t know the history. We’ve read a lot of interviews with you, and we could tell right away that you know what your talking about. Your lyrics and your music are informed by the past, could you talk a little bit about new cats that are out right now, and maybe give some advice to them about what they should do?
Yelawolf: Yea, I mean…Just always know that people are paying attention. And it doesn’t really matter about your knowledge of hip-hop history, you don’t have to be a historian to make great music, I’ll say that off the top. But, just be humble and respectful your elder, man. And if you don’t know about it, just say you don’t know about it. It’s cool. Get to know it. Ya know? Be open to old school shit, and respect the people that opened up the door and allowed you to be able to do this. White boys gotta remember this is a black culture. Don’t ever forget that. Don’t forget where the roots of this music come from and be respectful, ya know? So, I mean, thats pretty much it. I don’t know everything there is to know about hip-hop, there is so much I haven’t heard. I’m still learning man, I’m just a student, really.
Clutch: Alright I think that wraps it up man, is there anything else you wanna add?
Yelawolf: Na man, thanks for having me. Be looking out for that Trunk Muzik: 0-60 coming out in September.