Close your eyes and picture a rap artist. Now picture a rap artist who is white, his skin covered with tattoos. Now open your eyes and think of somebody other than Eminem. That somebody is Yelawolf and he will perform at The Valarium on Sunday.
Born in Gadsden, Ala., Michael Wayne Atha — better known by his stage name Yelawolf — has lived an interesting life, and even the word interesting might not do it justice.
After attending 15 different high schools before dropping out, he moved to California in hopes of becoming a professional skateboarder. His goal, however, was cut short by countless circumstances of broken bones and homelessness. He then moved to Alaska where he worked as a deckhand on a fishing boat. Throughout his cross-country experiences, Yelawolf held on to what he has known and loved since his start in the South: music.
He left Alaska and started making music. Touring across the country in Greyhound buses, he gathered a small fan base in each town he visited.
Finally returning to Gadsden, Yelawolf teamed up with Ghet-O-Vision Records to sign with Columbia Records in 2007. His hard work had seemed to pay off, but soon after he signed, a new owner, Rick Rubin, took over Columbia Records. Not even a year had passed when Rubin dropped Yelawolf from the label.
Raised in the South, you can bet Yelawolf grew up listening to classic rock from bands like The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Throughout his youthful days wandering from school to school, you can bet again that the South is where he discovered rap. He combined the two genres of music in his first official mixtape, "Trunk Muzik", which consists of him rapping over the beats and rhythms of various classic rock songs.
"He's a lot different than everybody else. I think that's what adds so much to his appeal," says Geordy Douglas, sophomore in accounting. "He sounds like Eminem."
And if you've ever heard Yelawolf, he does in fact sound like Eminem. From their rhyme schemes to their deliveries, many claim the two are almost identical. Eminem signed Yelawolf to Shady Records and collaborated with him for his debut studio album, "Radioactive".
William Fitts, freshman in mechanical engineering, plans to attend the event.
"I've seem him (Yelawolf) live before at the Hangout festival this past summer," he said. "If he's coming to Knoxville I'll definitely go see him."
Yelawolf will perform at 9 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance and $19 at the door.