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Album Review: Yelawolf’s “Radioactive”

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Southern rap and Southern rock haven’t necessarily been the most obvious of bedfellows. But on the Alabama rapper Yelawolf’s debut studio full-length, he finds an awful lot of kinship in the dirty South’s stylistic exports. “Radioactive” builds on his nimble, more orthodox mix-tape compilation “Trunk Muzik 0-60” for an album that, while scattershot and overstuffed, is a compelling showcase for this very able and charismatic MC.

Yela’s at his best when his venomous, speed-freak flow gets to dominate. The 808 patter of “Let’s Roll” has an unexpectedly soulful chorus from Kid Rock, but the verses tell a convincing tableau of rising from slow-rolling prescription-pill popping to real pride. “Hard White (Up in the Club)” rides a moaning, goth-exotica vocal sample while Yela works between two very raw musical worlds, boasting that “you’ll never see rock ’n’ roll do hip-hop like I did.”

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That worlds-collide quality puts “Radioactive” all over the place. Diplo and Boregore continue their dubstep infiltrating chart-rap mission on the wobbly face-melter “Animal,” and “Everything I Love the Most” is essentially a gutbucket blues lament. The record’s too long by a third, but Yela’s smartmouthed, serpentine delivery (and it’s hard not to make Eminem comparisons when Shady executive-produced the record) keeps the thing screwed together.

Yelawolf

‘Radioactive’

(DGC/Interscope)

Two and a half stars (Out of four)

--August Brown

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