interview YELAWOLF (June 2010) | Interview By: Jon Hay

   Dubcnn got the select opportunity to sit down with one of the fastest rising stars in the music business from Gadsden, Alabama named YelaWolf. This electrifying artist just signed a major deal with Interscope Records, which he talks about in this candid interview. It was Jimmy Iovine who flew YelaWolf out to his home, where he and Luke Wood brought him on board to their legendary roster of talent -- and gave him a new home on the Interscope empire.

The humble road of superstardom from Gadsden, Alabama to Los Angeles, California is documented right here in this Dubcnn exclusive…

Interview was done in June 2010

Questions Asked By: Jonathan Hay

Interview Assistance: Greta
Dubcnn Exclusive – YelaWolf
By: Jonathan Hay

Dot Silly

Dubcnn: Obviously, so many people have been hearing about you lately, but, for people who aren’t familiar; give your back-story and how this whole “YelaWolf” thing came about.

[My] name is YelaWolf; I’m from Gadsden, Alabama. It’s a small town, east of Birmingham, West of Atlanta, close to Talladega Nascar racetrack. I am from a blue-collar working class town and basically, that is where my perspective comes from, culturally. I am just southern, you know?

The way I was raised are the things that I talk about -- people, places, things, the South culturally influences all. Musically, I get inspiration from all types of music, but mainly it has been classic rock, country and hip-hop. It is basically a mash up of those three things. Classic rock melodies, 808 grooves and country concepts and chop it up like Twista. So it is like Outkast, meets Beastie Boys meets Hank The Third.

Dubcnn: How did you go from a small town in Alabama to being heard on such a major level and having all these major labels courting you?

I had to leave Alabama. I had to go away -- It’s what I had to do. I had to go to Atlanta and go to work. There’s nobody scouting from major labels in Alabama, so I just went over the river and through the woods.

Dubcnn: How did you make the connection to go to Atlanta? Did you know somebody there? Did you already have a plan in motion?

Well my Mom and me, we moved around a whole lot, based on who she was dating or married to at the time. So we first went to Nashville, then we went to Atlanta… Then through skateboarding, I developed many relationships in Nashville and Atlanta, so I was in Atlanta before I was pursuing a music career. I already knew the city, but I didn’t go there for music. When I finally got something I could bring to Atlanta -- I was back in Alabama in a trailer park working on some music, but still wasn’t nothing happening. I had did a mixtape and nothing was happening at all.

Dubcnn: What year was this?

f-ck, man ’07 -- and that year of ‘07, I went to Atlanta at the beginning of the year. I went to Atlanta and started doing shows and went to the Atlanta Music Conference. I met Courtney Sills, [also known as Bear], who is now my manager with Jeremy Jones. Courtney called [some industry people] from NY [that] came down to see me do a show and that’s the shortest version of it. This was at the beginning of ’07 -- by the end of ‘07; I was with Ghet-O-Vision on Columbia.

Dubcnn: So did Greg Street or any of the Atlanta radio people help you or support you at all?

Nah, they didn’t. I didn’t meet Greg Street until this last year and he did play “Kickin’”, I believe, when it came out on Columbia, but I hadn’t met him yet. He’s good people now and super supportive… You just don’t walk up to the station and they’ll play your record, no matter how cool you are with the DJ. But I’m sure Greg will be playing it as soon as his program director lets him.

Dubcnn: What about leading up to SXSW (South By Southwest) -- because that’s when it really got crazy with the other record labels wanting to sign you. Isn’t that true?

Yeah, well, after we got signed to Columbia, we were there for 6 months and then Rick Rubin came and basically rearranged the company. So we left Columbia and we were back in Atlanta for the next two years plus, doing mixtapes, working and then we decided to do “Trunk Muzik.”

Just like any other project, we stuck to it and we just f-cking threw it out there and “Trunk Muzik” just hit the bull’s eye. Then we shot the video “Pop The Trunk” and it started making a lot of noise online and I was already super comfortable performing. I had been performing so much there that it just became second nature to me. It’s just like recording a record, I love performing. I’m super passionate about translating whatever record it is I’m playing live. So when we went to SXSW I felt like I was there for the championship. I was trying to kill everybody. I just didn’t want anybody to step in my world. I had a lot of friends out there, but I was trying to maim and pillage everybody, man. I went out there just hungry with a chip on my shoulder, you know? Because even before SXSW, we had a bunch of people that were offering deals, but nobody was pulling the trigger. I was out there like f-ck everybody, man; I went out there with Ghet-O-Vision -- like this is Ghet-O-Vision, bitch, f-ck everybody... [laughs] respectfully.

After SXSW, I really couldn’t see it when I came back, but everybody was like, “Man, you killed SXSW. That shit went really good for you.” I really couldn’t see it. We did 9 shows in 3 days. It was like I left one tent, went to the other, left one venue, and went to the other. I didn’t have time to soak up what happened. The last night we were there, I did a show and went from the show to the hotel, packed my bags, went from the hotel to Atlanta from Texas and then flew from Atlanta to LA in that same day to meet with Jimmy [Iovine]. I met with Jimmy and Luke [Wood] and did the deal and went home that same night. Shit happened very quickly.

Dubcnn: Was Jimmy Iovine at one of the SXSW shows, or did he hear about it and want to see you? How did that take place?

They sent out one of their younger A&Rs -- one of Luke’s A&Rs to come out there. I think we had an A&R from every single label out there following us around, but once I knew Jimmy was interested, it was a wrap for me. I knew he wasn’t going to be beat by anybody.

Dubcnn: When you flew out to LA to meet Jimmy Iovine, what was that experience like?

I guess you could imagine a small town Alabama boy pulling up to a 20 million dollar mansion, next to the Playboy mansion and walking inside and seeing this life sized portrait of Muhammad Ali and a picture of Jimmy and Muhammad Ali in front of a picture of Muhammad Ali -- and then here comes Jimmy. Jimmy’s standing in front of the picture of Jimmy and Muhammad in front of the picture of Muhammad [laughs]. It was a lot to soak in; we were just kind of chilling and talking. I’m sitting upright in my chair and shit with f-cking sweaty palms and shit -- and here comes Luke.

They were all super cool though, man. I had always been asked to perform in offices and I f-cking hate it man. I’ve always hated CEO’s attitudes and they’re just cornballs to me, but it wasn’t like that. It was like, those dudes were really cool. Jimmy was telling me he used to date Stevie Nicks -- and he’s old school from the rock world. The first group that Luke ever signed was Nirvana. But man, I was really attracted to their own history in the game and they never asked me to rap or just f-cking tap dance for them. They wanted to do it and it was no question about whether they wanted to do it. They just wanted to know if we wanted to do it or not.

Dubcnn: So you weren’t put on the spot at the house to rap or freestyle or anything like that?

F-ck no. While we were just chilling, he was like “I got you a surprise. I got a little treat.” He played us some unreleased “Detox” shit. Hearing Dre unreleased, it was the best.

Dubcnn: How did what you hear from Detox sound?

Man, Dre’s once again going to change the game like he always does. He evolves… What can you say? It’s Dre -- he’s going to f-cking change it up again.

Dubcnn: With that said, so many rumors went out in the media that you had talked about wanting to do something with Eminem or Dr. Dre, or any of those flagship Interscope artists. Has there been any tracks in the making?

Nah, those are things I want to do, absolutely, but I’m just taking it day by day. I want to stay super focused on what I’m here to do, as YelaWolf, and not what I can obtain based on being under the same roof as them. Some things might not work out like you would hope them to, so the best thing you can do is just do what you do the best and let the chips fall where they may. I absolutely want to work with Em and Dre though. I peeped [Lady] GaGa and MIA and it goes on and on and on. I mean Interscope’s an ill ass label.

Dubcnn: So what is your day-to-day life now since you signed the deal?

Just f-cking non-stop work. All I do is record records, do shows and do interviews. I go out and buy some shoes and skate every once in a while. I get to go home to Alabama for about two or three days a month. I’m just f-cking getting it man.

Dubcnn: What are your thoughts on being added to Rock The Bells?

I'm honored, humbled and feel validated. Can't wait to share the stage with Hip-Hop legends and watch all their performances. I'm a huge fan of everyone on this tour.

Dubcnn: When will “Trunk Muzik: 0-60” be coming out?

Next month and I’m just excited to finally have a project that is distributed both nationally and internationally. The Ghet-O-Vision team as well as my management, Courtney ["Bear"] Sills and Jeremy ["J. Dot"] Jones have worked long and hard to get me here.

Dubcnn: In closing, is there anything else you want to add on or plug?

Just hit me up on MySpace and download the projects and follow me on Twitter and be on the lookout for that project coming out. And that’s it man. I’m here; I’m working -- super crunk and super focused.




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