We don’t write our stories. We earn them. The more we experience, the more we have to talk about and, ultimately, share with the world. Continuing a wild ride from humble beginnings in Gadsen, Alabama to the forefront of popular culture, Yelawolf certainly has a lot to say. At this point, the Nashville-based multiplatinum chart-topping artist, entrepreneur, and Slumerican Founder has consistently asserted himself as an outlier and outlaw without comparison…

He catalyzed his breakthrough with 2011’s Radioactive, which The Source rated a coveted “4.5-out-of-5 stars. Meanwhile, the gold-certified Love Story [2015] bowed at #3 on the Billboard 200 highlighted by platinum singles “Till It’s Gone” and “Best Friend” [feat. Eminem]. He maintained his momentum with Trial By Fire [2017] and Ghetto Cowboy [2019], spawning the platinum-certified “You and Me.” Along the way, he emerged as the rare artist versatile enough to churn out The Slumdon Bridge EP with Ed Sheeran and Psycho White EP with Travis Barker in the same year. Not to mention, A$AP Rocky, Big Boi, blink-182, Eminem, Juicy J, Korn, and Tech N9ne have sought him out for verses on blockbuster releases, while his albums have welcomed everyone from Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wynonna Judd, and Kid Rock to Killer Mike, Raekwon, and Diplo on tracks. Frequent collaborator Jelly Roll even pledged his allegiance and undying friendship with a Slumerican tattoo! Beyond Yelawolf’s music, Slumerican’s discography has expanded with releases by DJ Paul, and Struggle Jennings, among others. In March 2022 he released his full-length rock LP, Sometimes Y, with multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning producer and artist Shooter Jennings. He’s built Slumerican into a worldwide merchandise empire and his Creek Water Whiskey into a nationally distributed spirits brand across the US at major retailers, including Walmart. Plus, he’s performed on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, guested on MTV’s Ridiculousness, appeared in the acclaimed Peanut Butter Falcon, and toured with the likes of Deftones and many more. 

However, he ups the ante again in 2024 with his first-ever double album—War Story: Trunk Muzik Forever and War Story: Michael Wayne.

“It’s called War Story, because it’s not about what we’re going to go through in the future,” he exclaims. “It’s about what we’ve been through and how we’re coming out on top. We’ve got stripes just for having the ability to still put out music after so many years. We’ve seen all kinds of artists come and go. Having a career is a blessing. This is a celebration of the journey so far and the top of our abilities. It’ll be a hard one to come back from,” he grins.

In early 2023, he decamped to the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles where he wrote and recorded Michael Wayne with GRAMMY® Award-winning producer and old friend Malay [Frank Ocean, John Legend]. Yelawolf spit truth as Malay crafted music around it. “Malay dove into my storytelling and essentially scored it, he notes. With the first half complete, he played it for WLPWR [Wiz Khalifa, Tech N9ne] in Nashville, and they immediately dove into what would become Trunk Muzik Forever. He quickly realized these two halves comprised one whole.

“Malay and WLPWR had one goal—to make a hip-hop record,” he states. “We ignored the trends and set out with pure intent. They were making crazier beats, so I was going crazier lyrically. The albums paired together so well. There was no way I could put them out separately. It needed to be a collection, because that’s how it was created. When it comes to a pure hip-hop album, I do feel like it’s my best work as of yet. Love Story is the only thing that can come close, so we named the double-LP War Story.”

Michael Wayne opens with the epic “Trailer In The Sky” [feat. Jelly Roll]. Breezy acoustic guitar underlines upbeat verses as Yelawolf urges, “Boy shake it off, boy pick the bottom lip up, before Jelly Roll counters with a skyscraper-size chorus, “Someday we will all get high in that doublewide trailer in the sky.

“An album is like a book, and the beginning and the end are important to me,” he says. “This is how it starts. My hometown has never been nice to me, so I’m speaking on that. It was perfect for Jelly. We come from the same spot. We’ve been in the gutter, but we’ve arrived now. The message is, you can look down on us from your high horse if you’ve never been to jail and don’t have tattoos, but we all end up in the same place.”

On the other end of the spectrum, “Make You Love Me” hinges on a funky bounce and airy melody punctuated by otherworldly production. He continues, “It became about what I was going through and had been through in relationships. I’m giving everything I have just to make you want me. This suffering happens to a lot of people.

He gets personal across Michael Wayne. “Marijuana” deals with “selling my soul and how I perceived the moment of entering the music business, while “Lookin Over” remains “one of the hardest songs I’ve ever written, he confesses. “It’s about my mom and I in a car accident, he adds. “I told every detail. This half concludes with the ominous “Legend.” He sets the beat on fire with an incendiary lyrical display punctuated by an apotheosis of confidence.

“If you don’t give me my roses, I’m going to fucking cut them down and take them,” he proclaims. “This is real hip-hop. This is real rock and roll. This is how it happened. There are all of these motherfuckers sneaking up in our genre. I had a duty to protect my vision and speak the peace. This is how you make a legend. I don’t care what genre you’re in. You have to endure a certain bit of pain, pay homage to your OG’s, and bring people up with you. I deserve to be respected. This is the backstory.”

On Trunk Muzik Forever, an off-kilter guitar loop grinds up against the beat of “Flashlight.” His cadence turns on a dime as rapid-fire bars practically explode on impact. “When WLPWR and I got in the studio, we reignited a certain light,” he reveals. “It’s like walking into a dark room and flicking on a flashlight. I’m saying, ‘Hey motherfuckers, we’re back’.”

The bass thumps, and he leans into a braggadocious bounce on “New Me” where he jests, “I got leather jackets older than you.

“It’s a flex,” he elaborates. “It’s about being a single grown ass man and having fun with hip-hop.”

Then, there’s “Everything.” The chime of a foreboding keyboard loop bleeds into elite rhyme-play as he takes stock of the journey so far, “Went from a trailer to a savior, this shit is perplexing.

“I don’t care if people fucking sleep on me,” he assures. “I’m still the same old me. I’m not worried about any of these fools. That’s the real. I felt like I needed to say it.”

In the end, War Story says it all for Yelawolf.

“This is the new level,” he leaves off. “I hope this album finds a space in the world of music. With the current state of hip-hop, it’s ballsy to drop an album like this. I hope it helps keep this genre we all fell in love with alive. Personally, I’m enjoying getting grown and wiser. Thank God for that. Given the ups and downs, I’m fortunate to have survived this long. So, it’s time to celebrate. We’re going to tour the world, enjoy the fruits of our labor, and inspire people. It’s just important to keep making music and feeding the culture. This is War Story.” – Rick Florino, November 2023