Country rap doesn’t necessarily have a place where it started. Most people agree that it probably started back in the 1980s with Blowfly, influenced by artists like Charlie Daniels. However, it didn’t really become more of a thing until the early 2000s, when Kid Rock released “Cowboy.” After that, Cowboy Troy was unleashed by Big and Rich and became a staple at their concerts and his own one-offs. Following Troy was Colt Ford, who became a massive success, and to today might be the most well-known country rapper. Other rappers that have followed and are considered country rappers include Lil Tracy, DaBaby, and Ryan Upchurch, who is arguably the king of the genre. However, what if I said that an artist that grew up in Detroit was a huge reason for the country rap boom, we are starting to see?
Eminem has been arguably one of the biggest names in rap since he started way back in the early 2000s, selling millions of records throughout the years, and has had lots of diamond and platinum singles. He also started his own label, Shady Records, in 1999. In 2011 Eminem signed a rapper named Yelawolf, who already had a following as an independent artist. Yelawolf relies on his southern upbringing in his music, as he was born and raised in Gadsden, Alabama. His first music promoted by Shady Records was “Trunk Muzik,” which was actually released before the signing. One of the best songs on the EP is “Box Chevy,” featuring Rittz. He also released “Pop the Trunk” and “Daddy’s Lambo” on the album, which is rap songs but shies away from a lot of other music in the genre stylistically.
His next release was “Radioactive,” an album where he doubled down on his country upbringing with hip hop beats. “Let’s Roll” is a prime example of this, as Kid Rock is featured on the song and sings the chorus. Over the following few albums, Yelawolf had even more country features, like Lee Brice and Wynonna Judd are featured on various songs. Yelawolf might not have been the first to do it, but he was the first that made music designed to attract a rap crowd and put country ideals to it.
Yelawolf’s music isn’t the only reason that he is becoming a country rap force, however. In 2012 he started his own label called Slumerican, a hip-hop label based in Nashville. After he was let go by Shady Records, he became the headliner of the label. Other notable names on the label include Bubba Sparxxx and Struggle Jennings, both artists who have considerable presence in the country rap world. Yelawolf has been a force for the past ten years, and he got his start from Eminem. That’s why, although it seems crazy, he provided a boost that might have made country rap what it has turned into today.