Hoods To The Woods

Lanvin sunglasses; Yelawolf’s own necklaces (throughout). Yelawolf’s peripatetic upbringing in the Deep South found him living with his young single mother in housing projects and trailers, or, as he puts it, “from the hoods to the woods.” (The “A” on his arm is a shout-out to his home state of Alabama, while the deer head on his right hand and catfish on his left arm further proclaim his sub-Mason-Dixon roots.) Although it’s safe to say the classic-rock-reared rapper, born Michael Wayne Atha, wasn’t raised with the finer things in life, he’s learning to appreciate them. “I put on clothes I never would’ve imagined,” marvels Yelawolf of his INKED photo shoot. “I got an eye for Gucci, I found out.”

Success hasn’t come overnight to the 30-year-old, whose Cherokee moniker means life-fire-survival and was cooked up by a shaman he met in the woods. (“I don’t wanna go all Jim Morrison on people,” Yelawolf says, laughing. “But I’ve broke on through to the other side a couple of times.”) After fizzling out in UPN’s 2005 reality show The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott, he eventually landed a deal with Columbia Records in 2007. “When Rick Rubin came to Columbia [as co-head] I thought, Oh man, it’s on now!” he says. Unfortunately, the famed hip-hop producer gave him the heave-ho. Says Yelawolf diplomatically: “I never had the chance to meet him. That was the biggest disappointment.”

Now freshly signed to Interscope, the former skateboarder is holding his own, thanks to crossover appeal. Boasting comparisons to Eminem, he’s been touted by The Fader, XXL, and the New York Times alike, based on the strength of mix tapes such as Trunk Muzik as well as collaborations with Juelz Santana (“Mixin’ Up the Medicine”) and Slim Thug (“I Run”). These days, his biggest concerns are recording a new album, set for a November release, and figuring out his next tattoo. And there’s also the arduous task of defending his decidedly un-hip-hop haircut to the press. “People love my hair! When I cut it, I looked in the mirror and was like, ‘Damn! That’s a mullet-hawk.’” This is his style, he insists. “And I own it.”

Diesel hat; Dior Homme jacket; Kr3w tank top; John Varvatos shirt; Rock & Republic jeans; John Varvatos bandanna.

Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses; Notify denim shirt; Kr3w hoodie; Orisue T-shirt; Evisu jeans; Lakai sneakers.

Ray-Ban sunglasses; Gucci coat; H&M shirt; Converse thermal shirt; Dickies pants.

Gucci sweater; Kr3w tank top; In4mation pants.

Dickies flannel shirt; Kr3w hoodie; Duxbak pants; Nike sneakers; Timex watch.

Lanvin sunglasses; Kr3w tank top; Timex watch.

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