Yelawolf’s New Song Details How His Substance Abuse Started (Audio)

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Yelawolf has been releasing freestyles and singles for the last couple months, in advance of his Trunk Muzik III album. This highly anticipated project has been in the works for more than a year and arrived at the stroke of midnight Friday.

Out of the 14 tracks on TM3, “Drugs” is clearly a standout. Fans of Catfish Billy know that he has struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse for periods of his life, including recent years. MWA (which is how the artist born Michael Wayne Atha often refers to himself) got treatment in 2016, after abruptly ending his tour. This came during a period when he lost his manager, Shawty Fatt, and later admitted to drinking himself into a “manic depressive state of mind.” So, a song that takes a look at where his substance use started is not only a peek behind the curtains, it is likely therapeutic for the Alabama veteran and Slumerican founder.

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The photograph Yela chose to accompany this song on YouTube (there is a different portrait for each of the 14) is of him paying homage to Gonzo-writer Hunter S. Thompson and his character in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Thompson, who admitted to using a plethora of substances during his 67 years, took his life in 2005. Over sparse guitar and a heavy bass line he tells personal his story for four and a half minutes.

Billy’s opening stanza is a powerful observation about drug use in poor communities. “I never was the one in the classroom sitting with my hand up, when the teacher told us that we needed to report / Anything that was happening at home, like if I saw pipes or things of that sort / Cocaine dime bags laying on my front porch / Never made me feel sick ’til I found out what it was / No telling how many adults running through my home, had a convo’ with me on available drugs / And maybe I’ve caught the vibe, and maybe they’re right, and maybe I’ll follow them footsteps of my folks / But that’s only a theory ’cause of the people near me, love me enough to never let me do that dope / But the crew I roll with knew that road / We took a left turn and pursued that dope / I remember being scared of the goons in the room, passing needles around, spoonin’ smoke / At the time my young mind was curious, gullible and naive still / I run around the apartments, hid in darkness, and sparked it with Chris, Robby, and Will / And I didn’t like the feeling at first, the taste in my mouth or the smell on my clothes / But I kept showing up after school to be cool, I would do anything with the bros / And I told my mama lies over and over, what I was doing and where did I go? / Didn’t hurt my feelings anymore, I didn’t care about being an assh*le / Unless my girlfriend found out, that my backpack had a fat packed-out roll / But out the blue, she pulled a joint out her purse / That she stole from her folks / And that’s all that she wrote / I quote.” Here the track transitions into the catchy hook.

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The song is produced by WLPWR, who has been working with Yela’ since his 2010 DJ Burn One-hosted mixtape of the same name. Trunk Muzik III features DJ Paul, Rittz, former foe Machine Gun Kelly (aka MGK), and onetime DMC champion turntablist DJ Klever. Three 6 Mafia’s Paul takes on three of the beats.

#BonusBeat: The related song, “Addiction”: