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Yelawolf Channels Bob Dylan and Reveals His SXSW Regimen

Rising hip-hop star Yelawolf is playing eight shows over the next four days. “It’s my first trip out here and my first trip to SXSW,” the Alabama native tells The BoomBox following his afternoon set at Austin’s Beauty Bar. “I’m definitely trying to conserve my voice. I’ve never done this many shows this quickly, back to back.”

Yelawolf’s buzz has media as far as from Norway already lining up for an interview, this before the skateboard fanatic has inked any major label deal or put out an official full-length LP. For a guy who grew up hunting and fishing in the redneck backwoods of the South, Wolf’s popularity rides as much on his unusual place in hip-hop culture, as well as the release of three successful mixtapes: ‘Slick Rick and Bobby,’ ‘Stereo’ and the newer ‘Trunk Muzik,’ where rap namesakes Bun B and Juelz Santana are featured guests and fans include Kanye West and N.E.R.D. But by far the most attention grabbing factor is Wolf’s Micro Machine Man speech delivery and nasally flow that hails comparison’s to Eminem.

For most of his Beauty Bar set — onlookers included Kid Sister and her older brother Josh Young, one part of Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus — Yelawolf entertained with nods to Chevrolets, moonshine and the middle finger found on ‘Trunk Muzik.’ Classic piano chords juxtaposed the don’t-mess-with-me lyrics on ‘Pop the Trunk’ and if his ‘Mixin Up the Medicine’ sounded familiar it’s his interpretation of Bob Dylan‘s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues,’ where he raps “I’m on the pavement/Thinking about the government/[Juelz] Santana’s in the basement mixin’ up the medicine,” a short departure of Dylan’s original verses.

“Sample wise we try to keep it as original as possible but still enjoy the culture of hip-hop of being able to sample,” Yelawolf says. “That’s what hip-hop is about to me — just bending sounds from all over the world and making it hip-hop. Country can’t be hip-hop, but you can take country and make it hip-hop.”

For the rest of SXSW Yelawolf is keeping a mellow regimen. “I’m just gonna run in random spots and check out random people … there are so many, like two-three acts an hour at each venue, so who knows what we’ll run into. I wanna see Ninjasonik. I’ve got some homies who skateboard in Brooklyn, they’ve been trying to get me to see him. I’m gonna hit up some of that BBQ later though, for sure.”

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