Love Story rightfully opens up with “Outer Space,” a track symbolic of Yelawolf’s place in hip hop and its outskirts. An artist who is constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries of the genre, Yelawolf finally produced the album he always wanted to share. The track’s opening eludes to Yelawolf getting kicked out of the house of hip hop, but unlike Radioactive, when he compromised for a wider audience and safer sound, Yelawolf triumphantly declares, “I’m not out of place, I’m from outer space!” signaling a change in philosophy and the beginning of the most authentic and genuine album the Gadsden MC could put out today.
The sound of tracks like “Change” and “Love Story” harken back to his Creekwater days. The former proclaims the model for success (“Build, work, build, work, build, work, fall down/Fall down, fail, learn, learn, earn, earn and conquer”) while in “Love Story” Yelawolf continues to carve his place in history as an artist that is here to stay, no matter what the detractors have thought of him up to this point: “But above all the guts glory it’s more than just blood for me/My heart is half open for the ones that never gave a fuck for me.”
With a melody that screams radioactive; “American You” is the anthem with the mainstream potential “Made In The USA” failed to realize. Other powerful singles include “Till It’s Gone,” which is second in the murderer’s row of the outlaw country portion of the album (excluding the “Ball and Chain” tease) and “Best Friend,” in which Yelawolf and Eminem (the album’s only feature other than the McCrary Sisters) complement each others’ sound and prove to be a formidable duo after some misses in the recent past. The track hits a high point towards the final third of Eminem’s verse when the legendary lyricist boasts: “I’m the Iggy Pop of hip-hop when I walk in the boot, dawg/I’m the truth like Biggie rockin’ with 2Pac in the suit/Talking to Proof dropping a deuce/Fill up a syllable clip like a refillable script, cock it and shoot.” The third of that trio is the excellent “Devil In My Veins,” a future country single reminiscent of Johnny Cash.
Odes to his Great Grandmother and Jesus Christ himself add another layer to Yelawolf’s Love Story. In “Disappear,” a prepubescent Yelawolf details horrifying stories of physical abuse that lead to finding solace in a higher power (paralleling a mature Yelawolf finding that safe zone in “Best Friend”). And in “Have A Great Flight,” Yelawolf pours his heart out for the person who helped raised him past those struggles.
In a year in which we have witnessed rap albums step into other genres unapologetically (To Pimp a Butterfly), Love Story isn’t left behind. Yelawolf seamlessly fuses outlaw country, funk, blues, and rap to create a sound that would be best classified as Arena Rap because no other name could do it justice. Some may not have wanted to open up the door to an artist like Yelawolf; unfortunately for them, he has already renovated the living space and to many, it is for the best.
Standout Tracks: “Devil In My Veins” – “Johnny Cash” – “Best Friend” – “Till It’s Gone”