Alabama MC Yelawolf is one of the freshest faces in the world of hip hop, but at first glance, you probably couldn't tell.
Often decked in cutoff jeans shorts, rocking long black hair and tattooed to the neck, Yelawolf isn't your prototypical rap artist. But what can't be denied about the Southern MC is that his rapidfire lyrics and country charisma have transformed him into a newcomer to be reckoned with.
Set to perform at the House of Blues on Tuesday night, Yelawolf checked in with Patch to discuss his journey as a white MC, how he developed his distinct style, and what it means to be working with Eminem.
West Hollywood Patch: What’s the vibe that you’ve gotten when you’ve performed in this area? What’s been your experience performing in Los Angeles?
Yelawolf: I’ve performed here about eight times. And it’s been under different circumstances. I did Jimmy Kimmel’s show and I did Conan O’Brien’s show. But then I’ve also had my own shows. My headlining shows are crazy. But I think my affiliation with Travis Barker, it’s something that just connects with people. There’s something about the West coast and the South musically that I think has always had some type of connection. I don’t how to explain it but they’re just as rowdy out here as they are in Alabama or Georgia. Los Angeles is just one of the spots that I look forward to the most. Certain venues bring a certain vibe, and that’s a fact. Hopefully it’s the same group of people that always show up to the House of Blues.
WHP: House of Blues is a pretty intimate venue. Do you prefer those intimate venues or the bigger shows, where people are in the bleachers?
YW: I enjoy the intimate shows but to be honest, I’m not at a point where I can pull an arena full of people. I’m doing venues that I can handle. I would love to pull 20,000 people, of course. But I’m working towards that. I’m just taking steps.
WHP: But has there been a situation where you opened for someone and there was a bigger venue?
YW: Yeah, I was doing about 10,000 or 20,000 people opening for Lil’ Wayne. But when you’re opening a show, it really depends on the headlining artist. But that was the best feeling. I can’t wait to get to that point.
WHP: West Hollywood and the Hollywood area, it’s a very interesting environment. It’s very eclectic and people are into style and fashion. I’ve noticed you have your own style with the tattoos and the hair. How much thought goes into your style?
YW: I’m super random. If I get into a pair of shorts or jeans, I’ll wear them for weeks. I’ll wear them a long time. I’m really random with my shoe selection. I got a bunch of Vans SK8-Hi’s and I got a pair of high-top Tom’s with Aztec print on them. I don’t know, man. I’ll walk into the stores and find sh*t. Or I’ll walk in the gas station and find sh*t. But as far as really putting thought into it, I never really do. Now, I find that I’m more like I was when I was eight or nine years old. I used to like pull my socks over my jeans or I would do weird sh*t, like put my shorts over my jeans and wear that with a McDonald’s shirt. I was always weird like that. I’d like to experiment and figure out what was really me. And at the end of the day, what was me was not giving a f*ck.
WHP: You’re signed under Eminem’s label. With you both being white rappers, and him being one of the biggest rappers ever, what kind of advice has he given you on your career? Coming from the perspective that he was the first big, white rapper?
YW: Marshall is the biggest artist in the world, period, statistically. He’s not just the biggest white rapper or just the biggest rapper. He’s so far beyond that. He’ll do 90,000 people. He deserves way more credit than being just the best white rapper. I would never attempt to fill those shoes or be near his area musically. Some things will never be done again. You can never do what Lynyrd Skynyrd did, you can never do what B.B. King did, never do what Elvis Presley did. I don’t know where I’m going to go from here; I just want to make my own mark. I don’t want to say that I’m next in line. I would love to say that but that’s just way too much ego. It’s such a far stretch.
WHP: Coming from the South and choosing the profession that you did, did you face discrimination? What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an individual but might not feel "normal"?
YW: Do what makes you happy as a person. No one can really tell you what’s right. I don’t believe that any person here has the right to determine what’s right and what’s wrong. I encourage anybody to live freely. I’m from Alabama and I’m a white rapper. I’ve always faced adversity my whole life. And I’m still in it in a lot of cases. I dealt with it the other night. My girlfriend is black and some old white guy was giving us a hard time in a hotel lobby. It never stops for some people. If you make the choice to go against the grain, you’re going to have to deal with some of these things. But I think it’s all about sticking to it. If it’s in your heart, just be that.