Yelawolf’s ‘Trial By Fire’ is Game Changing

Southern Rapper, Yelawolf, Bends Genres Throughout New Album

John Fiorino, Entertainment Editor

Southern rapper Yelawolf released his fourth full-length studio album “Trial By Fire” to the world on Oct. 27.

“Trial By Fire” had anticipation since the release of his previous project “Love Story” in 2015. Soon after the release of “Love Story,” the Shady Records rapper started teasing new music via Instagram. Yelawolf would post pictures of him and his crew, Slumerican, in the studio while on the road.

While the most popular rap music recently has been about making money, clubbing and having sex with women, Yelawolf keeps it real. Throughout the last year, the rapper released four singles that feature the album’s various themes. “Trial By Fire” consists of four main themes that explore Yelawolf’s personal life deeper than ever before. He raps about individualism in the rap industry, alcoholism, the struggles of being a father on the road and how he grew up in Alabama.

“Trial By Fire” opens up with the title track as a gang of bikers drive up and enter a bar. Yelawolf enters and is invited up on stage. As he goes up, Yelawolf starts to perform the album introducing the main people he works with. “Bones Owens to my right, right here. To my left, DJ Klever. My name is Yelawolf, and this is Trial By Fire.” The opening track, which discusses the night of Yelawolf’s birth in 1979, and most of the album is produced entirely by Yelawolf. He quietly has blended rap, country and rock near flawlessly in the last six years since his major-label debut album “Radioactive.”

Of the singles, “Daylight” is by far the most like Yelawolf’s style from his previous albums with its country guitar, rap vocals and grit in his lyrics. While it is hard to envision this ever getting play on the radio, it is one of the best tracks on the album because this song is who Yelawolf is. It starts with an acoustic guitar and him singing and when the beat drops, he starts his signature style of rapping on a country infused with a hip-hop beat.

“Trial by Fire” has a guest list that is a steady mix of rap and country. There are guests from previous endeavors like Kid Rock and Travis Barker. Other guests like Joshua Hedley and Wynonna Judd, who are accomplished folk and country singers respectively add a new element altogether. Judd is featured on the album’s final cut, “Keeps Me Alive.” The duo of Yelawolf and Judd add a very real and chilling vibe on a song where the rapper talks about leaving his daughter in exchange for a nation-wide tour; the last verse that can bring a tear to the listener’s eye.

While he is not a household name just yet, Yelawolf’s production skills are some that set “The Wolf” apart from the rest of the rappers out right now. If the blending of three genres doesn’t interest people, then they can take about 10 minutes or so to preview them. Within the 11 tracks on “Trial By Fire” people are bound to find a song and style that interests them the most. Whether it be from “Row Your Boat” a gritty individualist based song, or a “Ride or Die” a song about Yelawolf’s former, unnamed love interest, “Trial By Fire” is an album that deserves to be heard from all audiences.