Album Review: Yelawolf – Radioactive

‘Radioactive’ is the long awaited debut album from Alabama born rapper Yelawolf. It is a 15 track album led by lead single ‘Hard White (Up in the Club) Feat. Lil Jon.  After years fighting through the underground rap circuit to gain, it may seem strange that he would choose such a negative word to front his first album. However, Yelawolf explains, “I think it’s a perfect word to describe where I’m going. It’s the fallout, the aftermath of everything I’ve been through and here’s what’s left. This radioactive material.”

As with any release from any artist, there has been a mixed response from fans and critics alike. Some praise his ability to explore new genres. Indeed while the album retains his distinctive rap and hip-hop style it is more lyrical than I originally expected with influences from pop, rock and singer/songwriter elements that made me think of Bruno Mars. At the same time he has been criticized for moving away and branching out of his hip-hop personality. One of the main issues being that there are apparently “too many love songs” on the album. I would have to admit that I didn’t notice this. Yes there are some deep and emotional tracks but these are balanced out with tracks such as ‘Get Away’, ‘Let’s Roll’ and ‘Throw it up’. One of the best tracks on the album has to be ‘Radio’ which, in homage to Queen tells, “Internet killed the radio star, and YouTube killed the video star”. There’s no romance there, just a heavy dose of sarcastic writing with a edge of truth that digs at his critics.

While critics will always be quick to liken him to Eminem (the album itself although released by Interscope is in conjunction with Shady Records), it’s fair to say their styles are worlds apart. However, as for the album’s originality I didn’t feel it was really pushing any boundaries. While Yelawolf himself is clearly exploring out of his comfort zone and growing as an artist developing his own distinctive style, some of the tracks on the album remain distinctively average.

Review by Melissa Phillips