He’s snide, he’s scrappy, he’s on the Shady imprint, and he’s white, but by exploiting the differences between the two, Yelawolf's debut album, Radioactive, does an excellent job of separating the artist from his label boss, Eminem. Expect an Alabama-bred version of Detroit’s finest and you’ll be without the sharp wit and over the top sickness that Marshall can provide, although Yela’s still pointed and generally in the vicinity of unforgiving, offering up signature punch lines (“I already got two cars in the yard that don’t run/So why would I want to break it down for you?”) that reinforce his “Slumerican Shitizen” stance. He’s the right combination of proud and pissed too, as the radio-friendly “Made in the U.S.A.” gets serious about the “manufactured” American dream, while “Write Your Name” brings that rainy-day feeling with some hometown sentimentality and hope floating over a serene J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production. While these deeper moments anchor the album, you really want the rapper to go hard at this point as key track “Growin Up in the Gutter” offers a whole new kind of grind, hulking ever so slowly toward the speakers with a WillPower beat that imagines bass master DJ Magic Mike flirting with industrial music. With Kid Rock on the chorus, the freedom-minded “Let’s Roll” is the drop-top car ride across America that it should be, and if you crave true Southern gutter music, just skip right to Gangsta Boo’s verse on the piano vs. profanity highlight “Throw It Up,” which also features Eminem playing it for laughs, and there are plenty. There’s an argument to made that Yelawolf’s entry into the world of official releases is a bit too cluttered with distractions -- stars, prime beats, and big-time hooks -- to be considered a proper showcase, but when given room, he shines through. Besides, he had already built a loyal following through underground mixtapes, so please excuse this popular host if he disappears for a moment, because Radioactive is a busy, well-funded, Southern-fried, and all the way live Shadyville party.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries