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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

January 6, 2010 at 11:26 AM

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American racial politics and Alabama sing-rapper Yelawolf, the anti-Drake

Posted by Andrew Matson

Yelawolf will have a big year in 2010. Photo by Minski.

"Trunk Muzik"

This Brandon Soderberg blog post about Yelawolf, an Alabama rapper who sings his raps and is set to have a huge year, has jewels in it.

References to "The Wire," William Faulkner, James Baldwin; trenchant observations about the overlooked colorlessness of your average street corner day trader drug dealer, the fact brokeness more or less strips white privilege, and pop country music's whenever-it's-convenient endorsement of "white trash": All this comes to Soderberg's mind when discussing Yelawolf, who happens to be white, country, into skateboarding/cars, familiar with the drug trade, equally fond of rapping machine gun verses as singing anthem choruses, and privy to a wealth of slick, monstrous half/double-time triplet-hi-hat creeper beats. Soderberg calls him the anti-Drake, which is to say he's a sing-rapper that's anti-smarmy. Hilariously apt. He also pegs him as a total rap outsider, which is a bit odd.

The thesis of the post is that Yelawolf is who he is, and by presenting himself complicatedly but seemingly instinctively, he's letting us see reality and not just another facade. In total, the post is a good Yelawolf primer and also an example of all the thinking America has yet to do about skin color, socioeconomics, and authenticity vs. posturing in pop art.

In the midst of it all, Yelawolf's "Trunk Muzik" bangs like crazy, putting the chatter on pause for at least as long as the song lasts. It's got that raver-arpeggio juggernaut crawl appeal with a downright heroic chorus.

"Trunk Muzik" mixtape here.

Another great, in-depth blog post about Yelawolf here, by Jonathan Tanners.

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