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REVIEW: Yelawolf – ‘Radioactive’

Worthy in any Hip-Hop collection...

By Will Lavin on Thursday 24th November 2011 Photo by PR

Featuring a list of unconventional collaborations, aside from his boss Eminem, Radioactive is by far one of the year’s biggest surprises. Fresh off of his BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher, Yela’s debut album on the Shady Records imprint - albums Creekwater and Trunk Muzik 0-60 were released independently - is the result of when lyricism meets southern hospitality.

In light of the recent popularity of white boy rappers, Yela’s definitely a different breed and a far cry from the preppy wordplay heard on records by the likes of Mac Miller and Asher Roth. With a love of classic rock, a track like ‘Slumerican Shitizen’ could be easily related to by fans of the likes of REO Speedwagon and 10,000 Maniacs. With lyrics like, “My body is covered in tattoos that are totally offensive/ If I did it I did it from life, no regrets you know that I meant it,” you are reminded that he’s a regular guy with morals and strong beliefs that prove to be pretty deadly on the right instrumental.

Renowned for his high-octane energy and expeditious flow, an example of this is seen on the Shawty Fatt and new Young Money signing Mystikal featured ‘Get Away,’ as well as the album’s introduction, which features the cocky lyrics, “I’m hotter than the bottom’s hot of a whistling kettle/ They threw a mountain at me, I got hit with a pebble.”

Another example of his in and out non-stop rhyme patterns can be heard on ‘Throw It Up.’ The haunting piano riff and electronic drum loop are very reminiscent of early Three-6-Mafia. With that said, who better to get on the track than ex-Three-6 affiliate Gangsta Boo? While reminding us of why she’s considered one of the most underrated female rappers with her chant-heavy rhyme style, it’s the track’s other guest that steals the show. “They say I act like an asshole when I pull up at the White Castle and I ask for an appli...cation/ Threw it back in her face and tell the bitch I’m a rapper, then I whop her in the head with a Whopper I bought from BK,” is just a slight insight in to the venom Eminem spits on the track. Think Em circa 2000.

A few duds on the album come in the form of ‘Animal’ and the out-of-place ‘Growin’ Up In The Gutter.’ ‘Animal’ hears Yela jump on a souped-up Dubstep beat. While the pace of his delivery is on-point, the marriage between this and the production ends in a messy divorce. The other above mentioned misstep sounds like the Alabama emcee is trying too hard to experiment with too many genres to suit his schizophrenic rhyme style.

The final cut, titled ‘The Last Song,’ stands up as the album’s finest moment. Emotional, touching, and relatable to many, Yela’s tales of hardship and lack of contact with his father will reduce any grown man with daddy issues to a whimpering boy. The beatbox-inspired production, which supports the thought-provoking piano arrangement, is flawless. The rewind value is obvious after a single listen.

Radioactive is one of those few album’s that beforehand not too much is expected but then afterwards is regarded a fine effort that has the potential to grow in popularity amongst Hip-Hop circles everywhere. While tracks like the Kid Rock assisted ‘Let’s Roll’ and ‘Write Your Name’ scream pop, this is a worthy addition to any Hip-Hop collection.

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