Yelawolf: Radioactive

Interscope Records/Courtesy
Yelawolf has had an unconventional rise to stardom. After purchasing his first car, he traveled to the Bay Area to pursue professional skateboarding. Spending a lot of his time in Berkeley, he would often spend nights at abandoned frat houses while eating at Food Not Bombs because he was too broke. Somewhere along the way he found himself back home in the mossy, oak-filled lands of Gadsden, Alabama, only this time he had stories to tell.Yelawolf sets himself apart by breaking down any barrier that puts a limit on words spoken per second. His lyrics are honest and his swagger is Southern, that is to say, sophisticatedly crunk. Yelawolf is the face of contemporary Southern hip-hop. At least this is the impression we got off his 2010 mixtape Trunk Muzik.

Radioactive marks his long-awaited debut album. Though the album has a few solid tracks among its repertoire of 15, it often ends up sounding too overproduced and Hollywood for its own good. Those who were expecting an album of hard-hitting anthems have been tamed by the use of slower melodies. Many of the tracks feel as if they’ve been adjusted for radio-play, something that was absent in the down-and-dirty sound of Trunk Muzik. Though there are gems scattered throughout, the album as a whole works as a stop-and-go between the fearlessly energetic and cautioned bore.

The lyrics remain sharp and original, though his rapping abilities sometimes feel unchallenged and safe. All the elements are present; it’s just a matter of recognizing the diamond from the rock and staying true to the elements that got Yelawolf to where he is today. His single “Hard White” is a clear example of his identity and sound, it is unfortunate that he does not preserve the streamlined vision throughout the whole album.

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  • Caustin

    I have to agree with this column. I am a die hard catfish billy fan and one of my all time favorite songs is “love is not enough” but this album is hit and miss. It has some great tracks but all in all i feel he got away from his roots a little bit with the collaborations he did besided Killer Mike, Kid Rock, and Em. I agree that lyrically he absolutely kills it, but you can tell this wasn’t produced under Ghetto-Vision

  • i don;t agree with this review, first of all it is called evolving, for an artist to be mature he has to evolve, he cant jst stay stuck on club southern bangers he has to put some meaning and lyrical content into his music which was what he did. to me this is an epic album with a complete package, he got club bangers, lyrical content  and emotional tracks in the album, it is a full complete album with touching lyrics real talk, music not all about club hits so appreciate good music and buy this album

  • Chrisstark19

    There is no way that this is too Hollywood. None of this will be on the radio with the exception of lets roll. Yela stayed truthful to himself and his fans. not disappointed at all.

  • JFree

    The one thing this review did not state was the fact that he stayed true to his roots. A few of the songs really have that country feel to them

  • MilesoseliM

    I understand the fact that Yela wants to get famous, but I personally feel that this could have been done in a much more dignified way, I’m not sure if this is because I’ve known Yela for a couple of years or just because it’s true. There are hooks on these tracks that sound like Hannah Montana songs, you can also here a distinct influence of ‘Recovery’ on ‘Radioactive’, which was a good album for Em but for a southern dirty hip hop artist, it just doesn’t fit. ‘No Hands’ & ‘Hard White’ were perfect examples of what a mainstream Yela can sound like; a huge club banger but still under the influence of Underground southern hip hop. ‘No Hands’ didn’t even appear on the album, which is just another thing to add to the list of disappointments.

    Although a lot of the verses and parts where Yela clearly has a lot creative control are ace you then receive that taste of Miley Cyrus mixed with a matured Eminem, it just doesn’t do the damage that Yela could have potentially came through with on this album.
    We all know Yela is trying to make classic tracks but for me, this album does not contain hardly any. I think that this album will bring Yela fame but not in the way he would have liked, not being the classic artist that he could have been.

    Finally, I know I am being a little harsh but this hasn’t left me hating Yela at all. Of course, I’m hating on the album but that’s a different matter, we’ve all seen artists influenced and pushed in the wrong direction and I think this is a perfect example of that. What has to be remembered though, is that this is only Yela’s first album. I think what we will see in Yela’s future is a departure from Shady records, most probably after Yela’s second effort and a huge step into independence; this will then let the public witness Yela at his full potential making the classic albums he so deserves to have.

    • Trevor

      I could not agree with you anymore.

  • Mattryangoldman

    i disagree with this completely. If you go through his interviews, he mentions how he’s been saving songs throughout his career for this album. While it may sound over produced to you, you have to realize that this is his first real album. An album can’t sound like a mixtape if you want it to sell numbers. Yelawolf could have made another trunk muzik and the underground scene would probably be happier, but this is a great album and it’s clearly very personal for him with songs like The Last Song, Made in the USA, Radio, Growin up in the Gutter, Everything I love the Most, and Write Your Name. This is one of the most personal hip hop albums that has been released in recent memory. 

    • Shogunrua1

      I agree with it being personal and his interviews said he wanted a radio friendly album… but i’m really dissapointed as a trunk muzik fan it hasn’t left my cd player since i bought it but with this album… i think trunk muzik will stay in the the cd player chainsaw and gangster of love and hard white were dope as hell but all these down beat tracks make me think of kid cudi and that’s not the image yelawolf portrays at all… at least i thought with hard white and the others. i hate to say it but i agree its hollywood, this album makes me think yelawolf has gone astray from the “hard core” rap i liked about him.

      • Mattryangoldman

        yelawolf isn’t about hard core rap…if your only opinion of yelawolf is trunk muzik you can’t call yourself a fan of him. He has creekwater, arena rap, stereo, and ball of flames all before the first trunk muzik. Even if you are just a trunk muzik fan, what about stage lights,  box chevy, fu, lick the cat, speak her sex, in this club, and love is not enough is hard core? that’s the majority of the tape

        • Danbasketball

          his best song by farrr is aint goin out like that :)

        • Ca

          I agree with you on the songs you listed, but if you have ever seen Yela in concert you would know that he is about hard core rap. Also if you listen to any of his interviews he calls himself out about how creekwater and arena rap was straight garbage.

          • Mattryangoldman

            i have seen him in concert and while his perormances are hard core and very amped, his lyrics are still the same

        • Chipmo

          Dont Forget the mixtape pissin in a barrel of beeZ