Introducing XXL Freshman Yelawolf
Gov’t Name: Michael Atha
Age: “27 for four years now”
Reppin’: Gadsden, Alabama
Notable Releases: Single: “Pop the Trunk,” 2010; Guest Appearances: Slim Thug’s “I Run” and Juelz Santana’s “Mixin Up the Medicine,” both 2009, Big Boi’s “You Ain’t No DJ,” 2010; Mixtapes: Trunk Muzik and Trunk Muzik: 0-60 (Interscope’s rerelease of Trunk Muzik with seven new songs and five from the original), both 2010
Currently Working On: Debut album, Radioactive, due summer 2011
Aligned With: Eminem and Slaughterhouse
"Box Chevy Pt. 3"
"Good To Go" ft. Bun-B
On Being a 2011 XXL Freshman: “I feel like I flunked for, like, five years to be here to become a Freshman. It’s dope. I feel like I’m a senior in a freshman class, but I’m honored to be a part of this crew. I just continue to do what I’ve been doing…just making music that makes sense for me and for my crew and doesn’t stop. What got me here is just being me. [The night before the cover shoot], I was in Colorado to do the X Games, so for the past two days, I’ve been going nonstop. Had my show in Aspen last night. We rocked that and finished at 1 a.m., and we drove to Denver and made a connection flight. I’m just hustling. I’m here with no sleep, and that’s the life that I chose. Just happy to be a part of this, man.
XXL is definitely a magazine that I had hopes of getting in. I wanted to be on the cover of it, definitely on the top of my list of magazines that I wanted to be on the cover of. I never knew how it was going to happen. Making history by being the first artist ever to be on it twice in a row. That's crazy. So I keep my head down and just stay focused, and hungry and working. I work like I don't have shit. Just going hard. Just busy man, I haven't touched down since the Freshmen shoot. Prior to doing the shoot it was the same thing. I was in Vegas for the past two days— I did a show two nights in a row. I'm here in L.A. today for a video shoot. I fly out tonight to go back to Atlanta. From Atlanta to Nashville, Nashville to Chattanooga. I'm just moving, man, just busy— and thankful to be busy.
For me it was just cool to see what the fans, and the people, and what XXL sees in the future; what artists they're banking on to make noise or have a career in the game. It was interesting to me to see that group of artists— artists I've never met, some I've never heard none of their music before. Big K.R.I.T. and CyHi the Prynce— those were the two people that I had a real friendship with and a working relationship with, too. Other than that, everybody else was brand new [to me].
I always base collaborations off of vibes. Of course, I've already got records with CyHi, and I've already got records with Big K.R.I.T. Me and Big K.R.I.T. are dropping a mixtape called Country Cousins together. Me and Prynce will probably work together forever; that's my homie. We'll probably do records here and there throughout. But yeah, wherever the ball rolls, I'm kind of like really focused on doing my own thing, and making sure that my album is dope. I'm not really too concerned with doing collaborations at this point with anybody. But how it works is, like, if it happens I just catch a vibe.
Last night I hit up [producer] Jim Jonsin just to kick it because I was in town and I was like, ‘Hey what's up’ and he was like, ‘Fall through the studio, we're working over here.’ So I went over there and ended up getting on a record with Game. That's kind of how it works. I find that premeditated collaborations don't result in the greatest records, because you're not putting the music first; you're putting the idea of getting together first. When you're working with artists you've never met before it's different, like me and Big K.R.I.T. we've worked together before, we got a vibe, so I'm not afraid of what's going to come out. It's going to be dope, it's organic. Same thing with Prynce, it's just full confidence there. You don't want to get stuck with a record that you've done with someone that you feel obligated to put out— that's not really dope, just because you made an effort to get together and work.
Being honest, I'm so in my own shell a lot, because I'm so focused. I never had a Plan B. It was either this or nothing, and I literally mean that with everything. I was either going to be poor and homeless and do this shit. I was either going to be a starving artist, or I was going to be eating. But I wasn't not going to be an artist. That's just the way I am. I've always been that way. I didn't have a choice because I didn't give myself a choice, I refused to lose. Not to be typical or cliché."
FOR MORE ON THE 2011 FRESHMEN COP THE APRIL ISSUE OF XXL ON SALE MARCH 15.