Editors' pick

Yelawolf

Hip-Hop/Rap
'

Editorial Review

When you're trying to be the next Eminem (a great white rapper widely touted as a hip-hop genius), you must be careful not to become the next Bubba Sparxxx (a great white rapper quickly dismissed as a hip-hop novelty). So explains the measured ascent of Yelawolf, a nimble Alabama newcomer who avoided flashing in the pan in 2010 by not releasing his debut album.

Instead, the heavily tattooed, unabashedly mulleted MC took things slow and steady. He dropped a superb mix tape, "Trunk Muzik," last January, signed a contract with Interscope Records in March, landed a sly verse on Big Boi's solo album in July and re-released "Trunk Muzik" as "Trunk Muzik 0-60" on Interscope in November.

"Radioactive," his debut full-length album, is due in April. For Yelawolf, going from zero to 60 apparently takes about 16 months. As his career has bloomed in relative slow motion, his rhymes have exploded from his mouth at dizzying speeds. Whether boasting of his rural roots ("Pop the Trunk") or his hip-hop bona fides ("I Wish"), he sounds like he's being paid by the syllable.

--Chris Richards, Jan. 2011