When: Fri., Dec. 19, 9 p.m. 2014
YELAWOLF | FRIDAY, DEC. 19
LINCOLN THEATRE, RALEIGH—"Fire Squad," a mid-record cut from the new album by Fayetteville native and Roc Nation emcee J. Cole, includes earnest bars lambasting the popularity of white rappers such as Eminem, Iggy Azalea and Macklemore. They've been "snatching the sound," he insists. That's a particularly jejune take in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner non-indictments, which prompted a minor Twitter phenomenon where select white rappers were condemned for not being vocal enough about these cop-sanctioned killings. So, should those rappers be exiled, or should they be made allies?
But Yelawolf, a white-and-tattooed rapper from the wilds of Alabama, did not remain silent on the matter. Instead, he took to his Instagram bully pulpit to denounce the police as "pigs," encourage righteous protests and offer sympathy for Brown's family. Even there, he equivocated, warning what he called the "white trash" segment of his Slumerican fanbase (yes, that's what they call themselves) that they might be targets, too. Such logic politely, naively undermines the collective outrage of African-Americans over the repeat murders of their own by people sworn to protect them. That well-meaning but wrongheaded message only perpetuates a racial divide, reminding us of the burden of otherness.
Of course, Yelawolf has to consider the feelings of his Slumerican Shitizens. One doesn't build a community of enthusiastic misfits with only political stump speeches. Yelawolf is a party rocker at heart, evidence by his biggest hit, "Let's Roll," a sincere salute to tailgating and NASCAR, complete with a Kid Rock cameo.
Love Story, his forthcoming second studio album for Eminem's Shady Records, promises songs for both rock and country fans, even if he's quick to distance himself from the pejorative of "hick-hop."
Like an Everlast relic, its latest single, "Till It's Gone," climbed to the top of Billboard's Trending 140 chart. Co-produced by DJ Paul, "Honey Brown" balances his hardscrabble bona fides with a cool hook about riding around with his girl. It's a quick DMV check-in to renew his hood learner's permit and assure anyone listening that he's been through the shit, or at least in its proximity. While that might not be sufficient to appease J. Cole, it might be enough to keep Yelawolf supporters who don't self-identify as Slumericans from suspecting Cole might have a point. With Rittz, Big Henry and DJ Klever. 9 p.m., $22–$75, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh, 919-821-4111, lincolntheatre.com. —Gary Suarez