Having left Shady Records, Michael Wayne Atha does not do many interviews. However, following the tradition, Eminem.Pro had a big interview session with Yelawolf before the Russian leg of his tour. Michael talked about his new album “Ghetto Cowboy”, about the magic that shapes the music, about his departure from Shady Records, his life-style brand Slumerican and more.
ePro note: Read our first interview with Yelawolf here.
February 14th. Moscow-Rostov-Nashwill. Instead of going all romantic we got comfortable in our armchairs and had the interview with Yelawolf. We had talked with him before and we knew that Yelawolf is an open and outgoing person and interviews with him are always interesting. A lot has happened since our last conversation in summer 2015, before his previous Moscow show. Yelawolf is an independent artist now and he has something to share with his fans.
[ *** A dial tone *** ]
Concert promoter: So, we are ready to start. Please, welcome, Wolf – and Ekaterina
Katerina Malik (“Eminem.Pro”): Yeah, you can call me just Katrina or Kate, it’s easier…
Eminem.Pro: Hi Wolf!
Yelawolf: Hi, how are you?
Eminem.Pro: Oh, I’m good, how about you?
Yelawolf: Not bad.
Eminem.Pro: You hear me ok? The sound’s good?
Eminem.Pro: My name is Katrina? And I’m the editor of the “Eminem.Pro” project. And also Igor’s here, his speechless ‘cause he has a really great problem with his throat. So I’m gonna be the voice, but he’s here. We met before, during the first Russian tour, we did an interview with you, my colleague did an interview with you and gave you a yellow Russian doll. Do you remember it? Did you manage to bring it home with you?
Yelawolf: Yeah, yeah. I got, I bring everything I get back to the house. Yeah, it’s up in, uh, up in my collection of stuff. Thank you for that again.
Eminem.Pro: Oh, it’s, it’s, it’s great. Um, I’m, I’m here today as a E-Pro reporter and we also run one of your biggest fan clubs, “Yelavision”. So all the questions that I’m going to ask today, uh, were sent to us by your fans, from Russia, and from the US, from everywhere. From people who really love your music.
Eminem.Pro: So, I hope that you will feel comfortable answering this, but if you don’t, uh, you can just mention it and it’s going to be off the record. It’s not going to be published anywhere without your permission. Okay?
Eminem.Pro: Okay. So let’s roll. Last year you released two studio albums. It’s “Trunk Muzik 3” on Shady Records and “Ghetto Cowboy” on your own Slumerican records. It’s unusual, because you used to work in a slower pace. We were waiting for “Love Story” and “Trial By Fire” for years. Does it mean that fans can expect you to work a bit faster now? More dynamic?
Yelawolf: Uh, yeah. Yeah, for sure. I think that, um, that was a happenstance of … I would sitting on to the “Ghetto Cowboy” record … so I, I had some of them in the bag already and um, you know, I was just, I was ready to drop, we all were ready to drop it. So, uh, yeah, I mean there, there could be, you know, more, uh, dissonance in between record releases, but it’s definitely not going to be … just won’t be anyone else’s decision, so to speak. You know what I mean? If I choose not to drop a record [inaudible years] times, it’ll just be because that’s what I want to do. A lot of times, you know, if I feel like I’m, you know, feeling creative and want to jump in the studio and keep dropping records, then that’s what I’ll do.
Eminem.Pro: Oh, that, that’s great news. Fans were happy to hear this seventh track from “Box Chevy” on your new album. Can you speak a little bit about it?
Yelawolf: Yeah. “Box Chevy” is, you know, series of records that I do for the fans.
Eminem.Pro: Yeah. We appreciate it.
Yelawolf: Hell yeah, I’m glad. I’m glad that you guys like it. Um, yeah. So yeah, I’ve just become traditional at this point with what the Trunk Muzik releases that I would do a Box Chevy, and then I kinda bled over into love story. So now I just, you know, start putting Box Chevies, you know, in projects whenever I feel inspired to do it. So one day you guys will have a huge collection of Box Chevy records.
Eminem.Pro: We don’t mind it actually. Also I get a lot of questions from fans about what would you choose between bikes and Chevrolet Chevy 1979. If you were to choose, what would your decision be?
Yelawolf: Uh, 79 Caprice ‘cause it’s a great classic Chevrolet all day. If I had to choose one or the other, she was in a Box Chevy.
Eminem.Pro: Great. Okay. Um, so your European tour, “Ghetto Cowboy Tour” is coming, uh, and the fans are excited, but can you, uh, just describe your album, your new album? In couple of sentences, what do you think about it, what you feel about it? And what do you want your listener to feel after they listen to your music?
Yelawolf: Um, yeah, “Ghetto Cowboy” was the piece and of “Trunk Muzik” and a piece of “Love Story”, basically. I sprinkled in some “Trial By Fire” a little bit, but I made “Ghetto Cowboy” in a really good place. And uh, I was and still like just moving around a lot. And I was running actually back and forth to the studio around five miles and I would come to the studio just energized. So I think that the record’s just a reflection of, you know, where I’m at right now. And I’m just excited about the next phase of my career and I’m excited to make new music. So I was hoping that even though there’s pieces of some of our earlier stuff that it, it still felt new and it still felt like a polished version of my music so far. You know, I tried to create like the best of styles. And at this record especially, I had the fans in mind the whole time, um, all the way down to especially “You And Me”. But I was thinking about the fans making this entire record more than any before because, uh, just listening to what I felt that they like the most of all of the music. So…
Eminem.Pro: When did you get the idea of that you want to release the record with this motto, with this message, with this dedication to fans or something in mind when did you have the idea?
Yelawolf: Um, well I knew that, you know, my independence was right around the corner, you know, and I knew that the last record, my last record from Shay was going to be “Trunk Muzik 3”. So I, I wanted my first ND project to be a statement.
Eminem.Pro: Oh, that was my next question. Right? Yup. So, I wanted to ask that, uh, you releaseв this album just immediately after leaving Shady Records and many fans felt that it was like a statement that you can work without a major label, that you feel that you are mature enough to become an independent artist to create your own label. So was it a statement, was this album recorded to let fans feel it?
Yelawolf: What what was the specific question? I’m sorry.
Eminem.Pro: I mean was your “Ghetto Cowboy” album a statement to let your fan base know that you can work as an independent artist and you can work fast and you can do something just three months after you leave the big label? So you wanted to show fans that you’re ready to become an independent artist.
Yelawolf: That wasn’t a premeditated move, so I didn’t do that based on some sort of plan that I make music quickly usually. Аnd when it’s done, it’s done. At this point I don’t have to wait. I didn’t have to wait. There was nothing holding me back from releasing a record. There was no one that said, “no, you can’t do it today, no, you can’t do it next month”. Uh, we put it out when we wanted to put it out, you know? Uh, and I think it was a statement creatively for the fan.
Eminem.Pro: Yeah. That’s what I meant.
Yelawolf: I didn’t intend on it being a statement businesswise. I’ve got nothing to that, but it ended up being that, you know, but it wasn’t intentional. It’s just, that’s the pace that I work. If I do, it’s like the freestyle. Have you ever seen any of my freestyles?
Eminem.Pro: Yeah, I have. I understand what you’re talking about.
Yelawolf: Those freestyles were recorded in one day, shot one day, released the next day. So yeah, it can happen as quickly as you want it to. Um, and I think that that kind of strategy was not unique to being independent. You know, you see major artists these days dropping shit out of nowhere.
Yelawolf: Because that’s the flow of the listener. And today, the fans really determine the flow of music, the turn of music. I just happened to make music. When I make it, I usually do it pretty quickly and I know roundabout what I want out of the project before I step into the studio. So in the past where you haven’t heard a record, you know, “Love Story”, you waited for years for it, and then you waited for the next project. It wasn’t because the project wasn’t done, the project had already been done and the project was sitting there like a car waiting for someone to get in it and drive it. So it’s just when you’re a part of a system, sometimes, especially a major label system, they’re old school and they don’t understand or they hadn’t quite yet grasped the concept of the new way to release music. So now they are, now they’re, you know, fully paying attention. So I think the line between independent majors great right now, because I think majors are more, more and more acting like independent…
Eminem.Pro: It’s true.
Yelawolf: …The way they release music, the way they shoot videos, the way that they surprise releases. And then also the pace of releases. It’s all changing. They’re just following what fans tell them to do. Y’all fans are all really in control.
Eminem.Pro: Yeah. It’s so symbiotic. Very symbiotic connection between fans and artists. Um, can we talk a little bit about your living Shady Records, because it’s been a huge part of your life you’ve been signed for almost nine years, right? And you’ve become…
Yelawolf: I heard six, I heard seven, I heard eight. I heard nine. When did we find the Shady Records? I mean, when officially.
Eminem.Pro: 2011. I have the information, but I’m not sure it’s correct. If you’re doubting, you make me doubt.
Yelawolf: Uh, let it be, no, I don’t. What are you looking up on … anyway, what was the question about it?
Eminem.Pro: I mean it’s a great amount of time and you’ve become a part of Shady family. And you’ve shared the fan base with … many fans of Shady family became your fans and otherwise, and how do you feel leaving the label? And how did the conversation between you, Paul Rosenberg and Eminem went when you told them that you’re living the label, how did they react? Did you expect them to react in the way that they reacted, or did they surprise you by their reaction? Was it peaceful?…
Yelawolf: Wow, you made up a whole movie in your head.
Eminem.Pro: No, I’m just curious how did you go!
Yelawolf: Well, you’re assuming that I sat down with Paul and Eminem and had a conversation.
Eminem.Pro: Yeah. It’s St. Valentine’s day and I’m here with you in Skype. I had to make a movie in my head. I’m sorry.
Yelawolf: Yeah. Uh, well there was no formal conversation. We didn’t go to a dinner and say, hey, it’s going to be a rap, you know? Uh, and I haven’t spoken to Marshall since, I think, well, the last conversation I had with him was right after the MGK diss. And then, you know, we’re homies and it was cordial, but I didn’t believe Shady and Shady didn’t drop me, the contract is up, you know. It was time for me to do my own thing, you know, something that I earned and it’s something I wanted to do. And it’s a natural progression for any artists, you know. Um, I mean, look at Marshall himself going off to do Shady Records. I think it’s a natural progression for artists to do that. And, yeah, it was this time, it’s time, but at the end of the day, after I filled my agreement with Shady, which is a major accomplishment, you know, so, um, yeah, it was amazing time. Superb time of my life, but you know, today is today.
Eminem.Pro: Yeah, and that brings us to your label, SLUMERICAN Records. So, you focus on it right now. Is there anybody who’s helping you with the label and what are your plans? Do you plan to sign anyone, any new exciting names that you can mention? Maybe.
Yelawolf: Hey, man. Will you look up SLUMERICAN Records or SLUMERICAN label? I’m like, where are y’all getting this? Look up, look up, SLUMERICAN Records right now and see if it exists. Record, record label.
Eminem.Pro: These are the questions that fans are sending us. So I don’t know.
Yelawolf: Hang on. Nothing on Google. I’m looking it up.
Eminem.Pro: It’s like a second, a third party.
Yelawolf: Like, okay. All right. We will just make this official. SLUMERICAN, it’s like the fourth or fifth time I’ve heard that today. So when I started SLUMERICAN as a culture brand, I brought in artists that were friends of mine. Struggle Jennings. I got Bubba Sparxxx upon me and Cook Up Boss and a few other friends of mine who I came up with, who I would bring on tour and help out under the SLUMERICAN umbrella. We do not have the infrastructure of a record label, you know, nor do we want to be a record label. If I end up signing someone to SLUMERICAN, you know, and want to operate as a label, I think that that would be more than clear. But, you know, we’re production company. We produce music, you know, we make clothes, we sell vintage apparel and we have a barbershop, you know, we’ve got a number of artists that roll in our team, photographers, builders, and our SLUMERICAN Instagram page shows the inspiration and the birth of our brand. And SLUMERICAN has an LLC of which I put my music out of, because I have no LLC for my brand. My distribution company is 1RPM. They distribute my music as far as the team that runs my music, it’s myself, my manager and my distribution team. I have a radio rep, you know, I’ve got a publicist and it’s a very small team of people that work my music. Any artists with SLUMERICAN, Struggle Jennings, they have their managers and their crew also. So, SLUMERICAN is a culture brand that provides an umbrella for artists, you know, but artists just like I did, they’ll go on to do their own thing. You know, when we first started there was Ric and Big Crit. That was the first small crew. Rittz when to do his own thing, Big Crit went to do his own thing. And you know, moving on to recent, it was Bubba and Struggle, then Cook Up, Big Henri, you know, Big has to do his own big things. … But a label – I’m just not interested. That’s a nightmare. I don’t want to be a label. Not at this point. Maybe in years…
Eminem.Pro: Well, the way you describe it sounds even better like lifestyle, community.
Yelawolf: It’s definitely a lifestyle brand. I mean, we’re definitely slaying more shirts than we do CDs.
Eminem.Pro: Well, it’s not that either. Many of your friends think and they discuss it, that “Love Story” is one of your brightest best works. Do you agree with that and do you think that there can be a “Love Story 2”, maybe some kind of a sequel?
Yelawolf: Mmm, I definitely think “Love Story” was the best record release on Shady, 100%. I think as of now I definitely set a bar, but you know, there’s a lot of things that come into play when you’re making a record and, you know, you can’t repeat certain processes. I mean, “Trunk Muzik” in the back of my house, you know, with no heat with a fucking pregnant dog and, you know, like no power. Like I spray painted shit all over my walls. I was obsessed and you know, this album will be the greatest of all time, you know, in the middle of the fucking hood in Alabama and out of that environment came out the “Trunk” and out of that environment came some music title song and the Box Chevy and it created a vibe and energy and that can never be recreated ever. With the “Love Story”, it’s the same thing and never ever be recreated. Will I bring another album as impactful? That’s what we have to see. You know, I think “Ghetto Cowboy” is definitely taking steps toward that, but the environment for a hugely impacted record, it’s very unique and it’s like, that magic doesn’t come around every once in a while. You have to grab it while it’s floating around. And a lot of that is just timing. I don’t think that without the introduction or “Till It’s Gone” and the success of that record, people may not have never known about “Love Story”. Um, and then came along “Best Friend” and “Johnny Cash”. So sometimes it takes an awakening, so to speak, to get people to even notice the record. And, you know, it’s taken a long time for that record to grow, to be honest. I mean, how many years ago was it when the “Love Story” drops, right? Six years ago, seven, something like that, 13? Five years ago “Love Story” came out and it just went gold this last year. And so, I mean, that’s a fucking huge accomplishment, you know? Uh, and I’m very proud of that, but at the same time, you know, that’s the slow crawl for such a big record.
Eminem.Pro: But I think that fans are going to be equally happy if you create something completely different, but equally talented. Thank you for this conversation, we are looking forward to your shows in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.