There are a lot of perfectly valid reasons to get a tattoo on your face. It’s a solid life decision if you’re looking to make your parents proud, improve your chances of obtaining gainful employment, or show Drake how much you love him. While totally unfun normals think getting your face inked is a big deal and a bad idea, Yelawolf is not one of them.
“Tattoos are never really big decisions for me. If I see something that’s funky, I’m like ‘that’s funky, I like that.’ And I just go for it,” the 34-year-old rapper born Michael Atha explains via Skype before a show in La Jolla, California. “I’m just ’bout that life. Tattoo culture? It’s part of who I am.”
Among his many facial accoutrements is one across his hairline that reads Slumerican, which conveniently advertises his label, his current tour, and more.
“It’s culture brand,” the Shady Records signee tells the Straight. “It’s a culture that I kind of grew up with—the musical broadness where I’m listening to Hank Williams or Mobb Deep or Metallica. It’s a juxtapose of the gutter. The Slumerican lifestyle.”
It’s one he’s been living for a while now. When he was a Yelacub growing up in small-town Gadsden, Alabama, he also got Slumerican tattooed on the back of his leg as a joke. It allowed him to taunt cops as he was running away from them, which is another outstanding reason to get a tattoo.
However, if you don’t have your own culture brand name to etch on your forehead yet, perhaps the one on the right side of his head might inspire you. It’s a portrait of Johnny and June Carter Cash, where the Man in Black has Fefe tatted along his sleeve. (You know you have a lot of ink when your tattoos have tattoos.) The piece is a tribute to two of his loves: country music and his fiancé, Canadian pop singer Fefe Dobson.
“I’ve always admired and liked the idea of strong couples. It’s being from the South and seeing my grandparents and idolizing that and what my mom didn’t have. I never had a dad,” he says. “Then seeing couples like Johnny and June? I think that’s cool. For me, it was just a testament that I ride for my lady.”
Ride for her he does. Just don’t assume Yelawolf is a big softy and his forthcoming sophomore LP, Love Story, is a sappy billet-doux to the singer of “Bye Bye Boyfriend”.
“The album isn’t about my fiancé. The album is about my passion for what I do. I went through a lot hard changes after my last album. It was only my passion that wrote this album. It’s a love story in itself, just the music. My life is a love story,” he asserts, then adds “I didn’t tell anyone that for a long time, just to kind of fuck with people. You know, let them assume it’s some emotional album about my relationship.”
While we wait for Love Story to drop in mid-February and enjoy singles off it like “Box Chevy V” and “’Till It’s Gone” in the meantime, Yelawolf is busy touring and learning about the perks of being an honorary Canadian.
“Honorary?” he asks, a little surprised. “Maybe they’ll give me less trouble at the border, then?”
Absolutely. Having that and face tattoos is better than a NEXUS card.
Yelawolf plays Venue on Saturday (November 15).