Jul 27, 2011 11:55 PM CDT
Straight Southern born and bred rapper, Yelawolf, is one of the most original voices in Hip Hop today. And this Alabama small town native and longtime skater isn’t afraid of a little blue-collar hustle—currently handling big, big things.
He just signed to Eminem’s Shady Records, is on the verge of dropping his highly anticpated new record Radioactive, is touring like a madman and has a new benefit collaboration T-shirt out with Famous Stars & Straps.
CCS caught up with Yela to talk skating, music, recording with Travis Barker, Tre Flips and more. Read on and see what Wolf’s got on his mind.
When and how did you start skating? I got a neon Nash board from Walmart when I was seven. I wanted to shred like my uncle Mousey and his boys. They all had mullets and were doing acid drops and hand plants, rockin’ jams and Airwalks. I wanted to be just like’em.
What was the skate scene like growing up in Alabama? Super red neck. Everybody had a Natas deck, skating pools and sh*t. There was no street scene…the ground was just too rough. Tony Hawk ruled the world. I didn’t really start skating fo’real until I moved to Nashville
Who were some of your early skate influences? Mario Rubalcaba gave me my first complete, a hand me down, and I never looked back. My homies were the biggest influences in the world; Nathan Brown, Nathan Smith, Will Lotes, Derek Dingman, CoCo, Jon Newport, Steve Kooli…But Tom Penny and Matt Hensley changed my perspective on what was possible. Early 411 videos, you know the good ‘ol days when no one had a camera to film sh*t and seeing good skateboarding footage was special. Now every average skater is filming lines with 5 D’s with mega fisheye lenses. Wack.
Did hearing music in skate videos when you were growing up influence
your musical tastes and open you up to new artists? What were some of
your favorite video parts? Yeah, but usually if it was new music, I actually liked the music more than the part or vice versa. My favorite parts had classic rock, rap or metal sh*t. But I got put up on tons of music through skate vids. I’d have to say one of the most memorable parts where the music fit the part perfectly was the Pat Duffy part [Plan B Questionable]. He skated handrails in the rain in slow motion to “Riders On The Storm.” Brilliant.
Didn’t you enter Tampa Am back in the day? Were you riding for anyone
back then? Yeah, I rode for this shop called ESP from Gadsden, AL. The team was horrible, but I hitched a ride to Tampa on their bill and then ditched them fools and kicked it with Nathan Smith. I remember how many haters were tripping on Nathan’s steeze. He rocked Jordan’s and a bright orange Nautica pullover. This is when Jamie Thomas was king and had everybody dressing like dirt bags. It was funny; Nathan broke his board right before his run and had to buy one from the shop. He put it together and dropped in and f**kin’ won the contest, beating Kerry Getz. The Zero team was sick. We were really on some Southern Hip Hop sh*t and they didn’t understand it. I beat a few of my homies [in the contest] but overall I blew it. But my boy won and it was like I won. Nathan is a rad person. Bumpin’ Triple 6 Mafia in ‘93 when nobody was on it and Switch Tre’s for days.
Was there a point in time when you decided to pursue music rather than
skating as a career? In 2000 I kept getting hurt, and was no longer motivated to throw myself down sh*t. I became a ledge skater, flatground…cruising fun sh*t only. I’m still that way but music became my life focus then.
Are there any similarities between making music and skateboarding for
you? Yeah, every aspect of it. It’s amazing, they’re one in the same. The work it takes to make it is all independent…that’s a book, man…that’s a really big question. But yes they mirror each other to me, for me.
Who are some of your favorite skaters in the game right now? Eric Koston, Mike Carroll, Marc Johnson, P. Rod, Torey Pudwill, Westgate, Antwuan Dixon, Stefan Janoski, Mike Mo, Danny Way, Grant Taylor, Andrew Reynolds…and still Jon Newport.
What’s your affiliation with the old Brooklyn Dobbins Block crew? There the homies I met through Jon Newport, and when I was recording in NY in ‘08 we just ran the town…Mobbed every day. It was a blast. Then they came down to Bama for my video shoot Kickin’ and we killed it. Just a great group of dudes.
How did you link up with Travis Barker and the Famous Stars & Straps squad? I was at the Fantasy Factory recording “Daddy’s Lambo” with Drama. Rob Dyrdek came in and loved the record. He made the suggestion of hooking up with Travis. He’s friends with Travis and I was already trying to make the connection. He called Travis and set it up. Next day we swang through his studio and vibed. It made all the sense in the world. We kicked it, talked some sh*t and did a record just like that. And we started just tossing back and forth ideas after that over the phone or email. Next thing you know, we had like four records in the works and two features out together. I became part of the Famous Family…Skinhead Rob, Pall Wall, Felix. We all get along great. Now the skate team and Twitch…it’s an ill squad man, I love it.
How was it working with Travis on Give The Drummer Some? It’s one thing to record the record, I mean the studio is always rad, it’s where it’s all born…but the highlight about doing a record with Travis is knowing you might get to perform it live with him. For me that’s the greatest part. My DJ, DJ Artime is a drummer, and at one point he would rock back and forth from the tables to the drums. And that feeling…that energy was the greatest. So when I play with Travis live it just amplifies the energy of the record from 0 to 10. It’s amazing.
How was your hometown affected by the recent tornado? How did this limited edition FMS t-shirt come about? Parts of my state of Alabama was destroyed by a mile wide F5 tornado. It was on the ground for over 200 miles. It was horrible and I felt like I could do nothing about it. It sucked, man. I wanted to do something but wanted to make an impact. A statement. It was Travis who called me with the idea. He said Bun B hit him why haven’t you and Wolf put together something for Bama? And it was like the most obvious thing in the world. We were thinking so big that we were forgetting something as simple as a shirt…a shirt that says we care, we’re here, we listen and Alabama is important to not just me but the people I work with and the companies I associate myself with. All proceeds will go to helping restore the destruction and help families.
You have a pretty mean Tre Bomb. Who do you think has the best Tre
Flip in skateboarding? Thanks! That’s all I got…Hahaa. Josh Kalis, hands down. And that’s my Muthaf**kin Boy!!
Your new Album Radio Active drops soon. What can the world expect? My best “part” yet.
Live Photos Courtesy of Jaysonsucks.com, Studio Photo Courtesy of Lionel Deluy.
Get the new Yelawolf x Famous “Yela Forever” Benefit Shirt now at CCS.