Yelawolf Addresses Cherokee Heritage

Yelawolf Addresses Cherokee Heritage

Rapper Yelawolf, a darling of the hip hop world since Eminem signed him to his Shady Records label over a year ago, grew up Michael Wayne Atha in Gadsden, Alabama. But his stage name was inspired by his father, who is reportedly Cherokee. “Yela represents light, the sun, power, fire, hunger and Wolf represents my ability to survive… my fierceness,” the young rapper has said. Obviously, Yela feels a tie to that part of his background, but how substantial a tie hasn’t always been clear. In a recent interview (see video below), Yelawolf addressed his feelings about his Native background. Here’s the relevant passage:

“It’s not like I grew up in a culture of Native Americans that took on urban cultures. I was just—the Native American, that was personal to me. I didn’t make that so much a part of my music, as you can tell. I mean, I really have yet to even record a record that is Native American musically influenced. Only because I don’t feel like I fully have the right to exploit it, because I don’t know enough about it. I just know that it’s in me, and my father is [Cherokee], and I’m just learning as I get older more about myself in relation to Cherokee people. But I’ve always been … just white. That’s it, you know? That’s just really how it is—most people are not full-blooded anything anymore.”

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