Eminem and Kid Rock pal Yelawolf tells his ‘Love Story’
Yelawolf is on the phone the day after wrapping up a music video shoot in Detroit with Eminem. The pair’s collaboration, “Best Friend,” had just debuted online, but ’Wolf — the Gadsden, Alabama, rapper born Michael Atha — hadn’t been following fans’ reactions to it on social media.
“I don’t pay attention to that,” says ’Wolf, while en route to the airport earlier this month. “I let that go.”
The rapper previously made a conscious decision to delete Twitter from his phone, after getting caught up reading comments about himself and his music, and even fighting with fans online.
“It was my obsession with caring what people thought,” he says. “I was fighting with some random person in Boise, Idaho, that I’ve never met and never seen before, to the point of wanting to drive to Boise, Idaho and slap them. Like, what am I doing? Some people have that control, but I didn’t, and I had to learn how to have it. Now I do.”
Yelawolf took a year off from social media, but is now back, albeit in a limited capacity.
“It’s way more healthy now,” says the 35-year-old. “It’s better for my music, it’s better for the fans, it’s better for my growth, and mentally better for me. I’m in the don’t-slow-down game.”
That applies to Yelawolf’s new album, “Love Story.” The set was released last week, and is a fuller, more realized album than “Radioactive,” Yelawolf’s 2011 debut on Eminem’s Shady Records.
Yelawolf signed to Shady in 2011, and “Radioactive” was rush-recorded in about two weeks and released later that year — an obvious mistake, Yelawolf says now.
“No one was trying to step on their own foot again by rushing something,” he says. He was able to take his time on “Love Story,” which was recorded over several years, with several mixtapes released in between.
“We all knew I needed that time,” he says. “We wanted the opportunity to be right, and we weren’t going to push the project.”
Like his best music, including his 2010 mixtape “Trunk Muzick,” the album is dark in tone.
“I’m just naturally that way,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll write records that are fun, but normally what’s attractive to me and what drives me to write is darkness. Those tend to be my better records. I like the melody and the key of the music, and I like those notes. It’s just how I am, I guess.”
“Love Story” was recorded mostly in Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, where Yelawolf ran into members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Johnny Cash’s son in between sessions. Recording was finished at Eminem’s studio in Ferndale, where the two sat together and punched up songs, including “American Youth,” “Heartbreak” and “Best Friend.” “He basically put the icing on the cake,” ’Wolf says.
Yelawolf’s relationship with Eminem has made him a semi-regular presence in Detroit, and he’s no stranger to the city.
“I hang out, I eat good,” he says. When he gets into town, “I make a beeline to Sweetwater for those chicken wings,” he says.
He also has struck up a relationship with Kid Rock, whom he partnered with on the song “Let’s Roll” from his last album, and the two have toyed with the idea of starting a side project together called Stray Bullets.
“He’s a wild one,” says ’Wolf. “He likes to drink all night. I like to drink all night, too, but I’m more laid back as a personality. Kid Rock’s the type of dude that will fly a flag that says ‘Kid Rock’ over his house, with a big portrait of himself in his living room. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, it’s just I’m more reserved. I don’t even have a single photo of me or anyone else involved in my business in my whole entire crib.”
He pauses. “Maybe I need to get one.”
7 p.m. Friday
Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward, Detroit
Livenation.com or (313) 961-5451