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