I knew it was coming.
In one shape or the other this new genre was an inevitability. The influence of hip hop and country on popular music cannot be understated. While they individually inhabit opposing ends of the music spectrum, they have been mingling with listeners for decades.
I remember a friend telling me about a country night he went to South of the border more than half a decade ago. He was struck by the fact that while the band played country music, the DJ that played in between sets threw down a whole lot of hip hop. He thought it was kind of weird, but also noticed that it seemed to be what the crowd wanted.
I guess we could thank (or blame) Kid Rock for his fusion a rap and Southern rock decades past, with his hit ‘Cowboy’ making its way onto the charts and into country DJs playlists ever since. I’d prefer the twang of Sadat X (‘Hang ‘Em High’), The Fugees (‘Cowboys’), or even Kool Moe Dee (Wild Wild West), myself, but those are more thematic than genre-fusing, and these days, the Kid isn’t much of a kid anymore and would be better suited to the name Uncle Rock or Dad Rock, as it pertains to young listeners.
Then one of EDM’s first superstar acts, Avicii, took a chance and really went against the grain with his 2013 hit “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother” with its country and bluegrass vibes. That brought listeners one step closer.
Then came what has turned into this year’s song of the summer, ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. This unlikely mashup of styles has taken the world by storm this year and there is no doubt a slew of tracks in this line that will be bubbling to the surface in the coming months.
This next track may be the one to push it over the edge.
A little more country than hip hop this song is catchy AF. The mass market is no doubt going to eat this thing up the brisket down at Franklin’s Barbecue. Between ‘Old Town Road’ and this little diddy popular music and country music may never be the same.
You can never go wrong with a fun song that sounds like nothing else out there.
Country twang with massive trap drums are the formula adopted by Blanco Brown on his latest offering, ‘The Git Up’, and I gotta be honest with you.
I don’t hate it.
If you like where this guy is going, I’ve got a couple other artists that you might enjoy that could easily find their way on to a playlist with the previously mentioned tracks. First that comes to mind is Gangstagrass. You may heard these cats if you ever watched the TV show ‘Justified’. They provided the theme song.
Another artist who travels through this neighbourhood is Erik Shrody. Erik has transformed himself throughout his career and deserves more attention than what I can give you in this piece. That will no doubt come in time. Most people know him as Everlast and he has gone from a clean cut party rapper to the lead vocalist in House of Pain to his recent various recent pursuits. While his solo act leans heavy on southern rock and deep introspection his collaborations with Ill Bill, Slaine and DJ Lethal on La Coka Nostra is a big fat hip hop punch to the face with its hard hitting bars and beats on songs like ‘The Coke’ and ‘Bloody Sunday’. While the original has a beat that knocks pretty nicely. this stripped-down version of ‘Smoking and Drinking’ is pretty cool, too.
JT James is a DJ, producer and writer based out of Vancouver, Canada. A veteran of the DJ and recording worlds. he has produced several projects in the genres of hip hop and electronic music under various aliases such as James Divine, Track Nicholson and Sandy Villanova.
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