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Yelawolf has always been one of hip hop’s biggest innovators and it’s one of the reasons he’s amassed such a huge cult following.  Throughout his career, this heavily-tattooed white boy from Gadsden, Alabama leaned into his upbringing and unique set of life experiences, never shying away from who he truly was. In a scene plagued with cookie cutter clones, Yelawolf’s music is a direct representation of where he came from, both geographically and figuratively. More than a decade later, he’s still here and thriving. With his recent release, Mud Mouth,  he’s pushing the limits once again with an amazing concoction of gritty raps and softly sung melodic choruses. Jim Jonsin, who we know from his work on TI’s “Whatever You Like” and Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop,” joins Yelawolf on this journey as executive producer. It’s interesting to note that the two actually kicked off recording this album in early 2020 in Nashville during the height of COVID-19 lockdown. Let’s jump into a few of my favorite points from this project.

The first stand out moment on Mud Mouth was the song, “Bounce.” Sounding like something you’d hear in the background of 1990’s west coast hip hop movie, Jim Jonsin gives us a thumping bassline with g-funk undertones. Dialing into the same theme, Yelawolf nails the song with a super catchy hook, “Billy for that motherfuckin’ bounce, bounce”. He sets an upbeat tone on this song as he navigates Jonsin’s layered instrumental with rapidly changing lyrical tempos – accelerating from 10 mph to 100 mph, decelerating back to 50 mph, then finally coasting back into the high energy hook.  

On a noticeably darker vibe, Yelawolf takes it right back to the Trunk Muzik days on, “Conoco.” It’s sinister synths and deep rolling baselines compliment a menacing Yelawolf as he raps, “Never seen a white boy around this block // But it’s work, work, work, 360 ‘round the clock // So I pulled the box in and I let the trunk pop”. Jonsin really takes this beat home with eerily subtle samples bound together with the occasional heavy guitar-ish sounding riff. To top it off, the hook features a vocal tandem of both Yelawolf and a second creepy distorted voice you’re likely to hear on an episode of Drugs Inc. I’m not sure if it’s Yelawolf himself behind the voice or if it’s Jim Jonsin’s sample genius, but either way, for those of you who can’t stomach “new” and “pop-py” music, this one's for you.

On top of developing his vocal set – from hitting higher/lower notes when singing, or widening his tempo variance when rapping, Yelawolf has also really developed his song structure over the years. The song, “Aquanet”, really drives the point home. It’s such a well composed track from front to back: layered with littered adlibs, well crafted verses, and strategically arranged pre-choruses and choruses in a way that the whole track resembles different chapters cohesively positioned in a well thought out book. This is easily my favorite song on the album.

All in all, Mud Mouth is an intoxicating formula of hard beats, soft melodies, fast raps, and genre defying undertones.  Both Yelawolf and Jim Jonson reeled in this massive catfish out of the depths. It’s new music, but not in the sense that’s it’s popular and trendy. It’s new music, as in its ever evolving, ever boundary pushing, and literally has Yelawolf marching to the beat of his own drum. Next time you’re cruising around in that Chevy, crank up the bass and give this one a spin.  It's 100% fire on a multitude of levels.


PS – On April 30th, 2021, Yelawolf tweeted that he plans on releasing an accompanying movie, Mud Mouth, this summer. Peep the trailer below.


Be well and keep rocking!   Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  9.1 out of 10

Artist:  Yelawolf,  AlbumMud Mouth  Release Date: April 30th, 2021,   Label:  Slumerican Records

Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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