Biggie has a legendary freestyle with Tupac that’s been mixed by every DJ with a spare beat where he drops the line, “My slow flow’s remarkable,” noting that an MC of his caliber is able to shapeshift when the situation calls for it. B.I.G. ripped everything from Diddy club bangers to the infamous collaboration with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, “Notorious Thugs,” where he adapted to the Cleveland quartet’s tongue-twisting style. Jay-Z used to spit a mile a minute when he was in the underground, blazing on tracks with Big L like “Da Graveyard” where he hit a level that was almost impossible to decipher. But Jay realized that to get his rhymes across, he needed to slow it down so that the words resonated with the listener. Even Busta Rhymes has the ability to tame his tongue down when needed. The fact is, most of the best MCs in the game can speed up the tempo when needed and shine while doing it. The speed-rap phenomenon is looked at by outsiders as an awesome talent, but to hip-hop purists, it’s a novelty. Sure, it’s dope to hear Twista go off every now and then with this world-records cadence, but when has he ever really dropped a solid album? If artists aren’t able to slow it down and still resonate or at least fill their Nascar-bars with substance, they make themselves vulnerable when trying to put together a complete work.
Yelawolf is the latest casualty of the novelty. Making his name in the underground, he put out a few decent songs such as “Kickin’” where his fast-paced delivery and hicked-out, Alabama drawl was a nice change of pace from some of the monotony of hip-hop. But with further releases such as this summer’s ironically spelled Trunk Muzik 0-60 mixtape, the novelty just started to wear thin, despite grasping the attention of Eminem, who drafted the 31-year-old rookie to be a part of this Shady 2.0 reboot. The thinking was, with a genius and respected MC guiding his way, maybe the Gadsden, Ala., native could cultivate writing worthy of the flow. Not only is the writing subpar, half the time he abandoned his trademark flow on his debut, Radioactive, and tried to chop it up. What a terrible mistake. The dreadful storytelling and inconsistent delivery makes it hard to figure out why Em would cosign on this dude with an indescribable hairstyle and fetish for tie-dye hoodies.
What Radioactive lacks in catchiness, it lacks even more in intelligence. Failed love songs such as “Good Girl” and “Write Your Name” would make even the biggest meth addict with butterfly-infused, ex-boyfriend tattoos think twice before jumping into Yela’s box Chevy. “Radio” is a cry for the golden days of music, which ironically would never have a shot at even being played on an independent college radio station’s “which song is worse” call-in feature. When asked about one of the singles, “Throw It Up,” Kid Dangerous Clothing’s Creative Director Dan Agnew replied, “It makes me want to fucking kill myself.”
There’s not much redeeming value coming out of Radioactive. Maybe the fan base Yelawolf has built up will love it, but it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that this record was even made. It’s a tough listen to say the least.
Yelawolf – Radioactive tracklist:
- “Radioactive (Intro)”
- “Get Away” (featuring Shawty Fatt and Mystikal)
- “Let’s Roll” (featuring Kid Rock)
- “Hard White (Up in the Club)” (featuring Lil Jon)
- “Growin’ Up in the Gutter” (featuring Rittz)
- “Throw It Up” (featuring Gangsta Boo and Eminem)
- “Good Girl”
- “Made in the U.S.A.”
- “Animal” (featuring Fefe Dobson)
- “The Hardest Love Song in the World”
- “Write Your Name”
- “Everything I Love the Most”
- “Slumerican Shitizen” (featuring Killer Mike)
- “The Last Song”