Trunk Muzik

Beats: XL
Lyrics: XL
Originality: L

Though he released his debut album, Creekwater, in 2005 and signed a deal with Ghet-O-Vision Ent. in 2007, Yelawolf didn’t really see much mainstream success until last year. In 2009, he scored high-profile appearances on Slim Thug’s “I Run” and Juelz Santana’s “Mixin’ Up The Medicine.” The Alabama rapper keeps the wheels turning on Trunk Muzik, his first mixtape of the new decade.

From the rambunctious title track, where he switches gears and raps at different speeds throughout the course of the song, to “Pop The Trunk,” which sounds like something straight out of a horror flick, Trunk Muzik is, as expected, filled with songs tailored for the automobile. Yela’s love affair with his old school continues with “Box Chevy, Pt. 3,” (Pts. 1 and 2 appeared on previous mixtape efforts, Ball Of Flames: The Ballad of Slick Rick E Bobby, and Stereo). On “Love Is Not Enough,” he interpolates Devin The Dude’s “Anythang” and raps about driving to get over getting dumped. Then, there’s the raunchy “Speak Her Sex,” where Yela even uses cars for an extended metaphor: “So you ride around in a Chrysler, but my Chevy fits the best/Well, get rid of that Oldsmobile, Oldsmobile’s cut less.”

Fortunately, Yela doesn’t ride the car concept until it’s on E. The mixtape’s best performance comes on, “Good To Go,” where he and Bun B trade verses about getting fresh over a heavy dose of 808s. Similarly, the rebellious “F.U.” finds Yelawolf analyzing the haters he’s gained as a result of his recent success. Given the way he’s started off 2010 his detractors may have more of a gripe, as Trunk pushes Yelawolf to the front seat of rappers to keep an eye on in the New Year. —Chris Yuscavage