The music of Kreayshawn and Yelawolf is worlds apart, but both artists share a reverence for tattoos. For "Marked Up," Billboard's new video series about the musicians and their ink, the pair sat down to discuss the personal reasons that led to getting their tats and the meaning they've found in having them.
Getting a tattoo has long been a rite of passage for young musicians who want to make a statement about their intention to live a life less ordinary. San Francisco native Kreayshawn says her first ink -- an ice cream cone on her neck that she got at age 16 from "a legit tattoo shop that was doing underage $20 tattoos" on the side - was a conscious step towards that. "I was so young," she says. "It meant so much to me getting a neck tattoo. I felt like I was setting the pace for the rest of my life… They always say that only artists can get hella tattoos and get away with it, so I think at that moment I was deciding my fate."
In the few years since that ice cream tattoo and three others got her in hot water with her mom, Kreayshawn has not only racked up numerous other tats, she's made a name for herself in music. The literally colorful 23-year-old's 2011 single "Gucci Gucci" was a viral hit that was certified gold and her 2012 debut album, "Somethin' 'Bout Kreay" climbed into the top 20 of the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Alabama-born rapper Yelawolf waited until age 18 for his first ink, a design he drew himself. "I got it on my arm, the most redneck spot you could get a tattoo," he says. "My next tattoo was 'Yelawolf' [in] old English on my forearms. It was really corny, looking back on my first steps into getting tattoos and then my appreciation for it grew into a whole other level."
The profusely-tattooed 33-year-old, who is signed to Eminem's Shady Records and whose album "Radioactive debuted at No. 27 on the Billboard 200, doesn't think getting a tattoo alone is important unless it has individual significance. "There's nothing special to have it, but what is special is what you got: where it's at, what it is, what it represents."
Visit Billboard.com next week for a new episode of 'Marked Up' featuring Eve.