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Country rap

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Country rap is a fusion genre of popular music blending country music with hip hop-style rapping.[3][4]

History

1998–2015: Origins

AXS has cited Kid Rock's song "Cowboy", from his 1998 album Devil Without a Cause, as the first country rap song.[5]

Additionally, Mo Thugs Family released the single "Ghetto Cowboy" in 1998. Rapper Krayzie Bone described the motivation behind the track to MTV, saying "I was in there just doing the beat one day, and I was just sitting back [and thinking], 'Man, that sounds like one of those western movie songs where somebody's just talking, just narrating the story,' you know what I'm saying."[6]

Country rap began to expand as a genre when Bubba Sparxxx and producer Shannon "Fat Shan" Houchins created Sparxxx's 2001 debut album Dark Days, Bright Nights as an independent release which was later re-released on Interscope Records;[7][8][9][10] the trend continued in 2005 when country artists Big & Rich introduced Cowboy Troy to the country world via 2005's Loco Motive released on Warner Brothers, which reached #2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.[11] Country rap also influenced bro country.

Coming off the success of Bubba Sparxxx's platinum album debut, Houchins soon after created Average Joes Entertainment with Colt Ford;[12] this was the beginning of country rap taking its place as a separate genre while at the same time influencing mainstream country.[9] Colt Ford has sold over 1.5 million albums including 4 that have landed in the top 10 of Billboard's Country Music chart. Ford's 2012 Declaration of Independence debuted at #1 on Billboard's Country Chart and his 2014 album Thanks For Listening debuted at #1 on the Billboard Rap Chart making him the only artist in history to have #1 albums on both Billboard Country and Rap Charts,[13] proving that country rap is a true genre and spawning a slew of new artists. The Lacs and Lenny Cooper have both sold well;[8] the Lacs' third and fourth albums Keep It Redneck and Outlaw In Me both debuted #3 on Billboard's Country Chart in August 2013.[14]

Other artists of this genre include Upchurch, Bottleneck, The Lacs, Lenny Cooper, Moonshine Bandits, Big Smo, Jawga Boyz, Gangstagrass and Redneck Souljers.

Music journalist Chuck Eddy, in The Accidental Evolution of Rock 'n' Roll, traces the genre's roots back to Woody Guthrie.[15]

2016–present: Resurgence

In 2016, country rap, and its subgenre country trap, made a return with American rapper Young Thug's experimental mixtape Beautiful Thugger Girls.[citation needed]

In 2019, 20-year-old rapper Lil Nas X's country rap single "Old Town Road" achieved mainstream international success.[16] Assisted by several subsequent versions, including a remix featuring country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, the song broke multiple U.S. streaming records and charted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record seventeen weeks.[17] In June 2019, Blanco Brown's "The Git Up", described by USA Today as a "trap-country" song, also achieved viral success.[18]

Popularity

Physical sales of country rap albums are higher in more rural areas where country rap fans do not have the Internet services required to stream or download music.[19]

There are numerous country rap festivals where artists gather to play their music for upwards of 7,000 fans.[19]

Heterogeneity

Bubba Sparxxx, considered one of the greats of the genre, produces music largely rooted in urban hip-hop.[19] In contrast, artists such as Ryan Upchurch make music that is more rooted in country because that's where he was raised.[19]

The term "hick-hop" is often criticized by some southern artists, with Struggle Jennings saying, "I love the country, I love the South, I've been fishing and hunting, but I'm not a hick. I'm not hick-hop”.[19]

The political ideology of country rap artists is perceived as being right-wing and conservative, due to some right-leaning politics expressed by artists like Upchurch;[19] however the political ideology of country rap artists ranges from liberal to moderate.[19]

Mainstream country artists who have rapped or collaborated with rappers

Country music in the way of talking blues style has been an influence of rap since the 1970s, by example "Talkin Blues" performed by Woody Guthrie (1947) and the famous 1961 hit "Big Bad John" performed by Jimmy Dean. Certain individual country music songs show a hip hop influence, such as Toby Keith's singles "Getcha Some", "I Wanna Talk About Me" and "Red Solo Cup" which feature spoken-word verses recited over an insistent rhythm;[20] the same style applies to The Bellamy Brothers' 1987 single "Country Rap".[3] Neal McCoy has also recorded a hip hop version of the theme song of The Beverly Hillbillies called "Hillbilly Rap", which includes samples from other hip hop songs.[3] American musician Everlast is often known to fuse the two genres.

In 1991, hip-hop house duo The KLF released a re-done version of their 1987 song "Justified & Ancient (Stand By the JAMs)", originally featured on the 1987 album 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?), recorded under The KLF's previous incarnation as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. The 1991 version featured vocals from American country music singer Tammy Wynette, and was featured on The KLF's album The White Room.

In September 2004, American hip hop recording artist Nelly released "Over and Over", a collaboration with American country singer-songwriter Tim McGraw; the song peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. Colt Ford and country-rock singer Brantley Gilbert got together and made "Dirt Road Anthem"; the song was featured on country singer Jason Aldean's album My Kinda Party. A remixed "Dirt Road Anthem" featuring Aldean and rapper Ludacris was played at both the 2011 CMT Music Awards and the 2011 Grammy Nominations Concert.

In 2010, Kid Rock collaborated with T.I and Martina McBride for the song "Care" on his album Born Free, and in 2017 he did a song for his album Sweet Southern Sugar, "Po-Dunk" which peaked at number 27 on the Hot Country Songs Chart in November.

American rapper B.o.B and country singer Taylor Swift also collaborated for a country rap song titled "Both of Us", in 2012. Swift did some vocals, mainly the chorus in a country rhythm and B.o.B performed it as a hip-hop song with some banjo guitars in the background, it became a top 10 hit in Australia and New Zealand and a top 20 hit in the US.

Country duo Florida Georgia Line collaborated with Nelly on a remix of their single "Cruise".

Country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J recorded the controversial song "Accidental Racist" for Paisley's 2013 album Wheelhouse.[21]

In 2018, Carrie Underwood released "The Champion" featuring Ludacris.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ Sheldon Pearce (April 1, 2019). "How Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" Became a Lightning Rod for Race, the Charts, and Country Music". Pitchfork.
  2. ^ Horner, Al (April 9, 2019). "Lil Nas X ‘Old Town Road’: A new dawn in music". Gq-magazine.co.uk.
  3. ^ a b c Lawrence, Keith (May 28, 2008). "Bluegrass meets hip-hop at Kentucky school", Chicago Tribune, p. 7. Convenience link.
  4. ^ "Podcast: Country In HipHop". New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  5. ^ "The 10 best Kid Rock songs". axs.com.
  6. ^ "Krayzie Bone Saddles Up For "Ghetto Cowboy," Preps Solo Release". MTV.
  7. ^ "Hick-Hop Gets Down and Dirty". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "The Unlikely Rise Of Hick-Hop". The Wall Street Journal. July 5, 2013. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Country Music Opens Its Ears". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  10. ^ "Bubba Sparxxx Bio". 8/4/2012. BackRoad Records.
  11. ^ Stark, Phyllis. "Cowboy Troy's Wild Ride". Billboard.
  12. ^ David Jeffries. "Colt Ford biography". Allmusic. Retrieved July 1, 2009.
  13. ^ "Colt Ford Album, 'Declaration of Independence,' Debuts at No. 1". AOL. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  14. ^ "The Lacs' Score Career-Best Rank On Top Country Albums". Billboard. August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  15. ^ Eddy, Chuck (1997). The Accidental Evolution of Rock 'n' Roll. Da Capo Press. pp. 126–27. ISBN 0-306-80741-6
  16. ^ Fink, Jenni. "Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' Breaks Record Set by 'One Sweet Day,' 'Despacito'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on July 29, 2019. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  17. ^ Unterberger, Andrew. "17 Weeks of 'Old Town Road': A Week-by-Week Look Back at Lil Nas X's Historic Run at No. 1 on the Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on July 29, 2019. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  18. ^ McDermott, Maeve. "The next 'Old Town Road?' Trap-country goes viral again with Blanco Brown's 'The Git Up'". USA Today. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g "Country Rap: Inside a Genre Full of Big Dreams and Contradictions". rollingstone.com.
  20. ^ Farhi, Paul (January 2002). ""Talk": Singing In the Key of Me". WashingtonPost.com. Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2007.
  21. ^ Tim Nudd (April 9, 2013). "Brad Paisley Defends Controversial 'Accidental Racist' Duet with LL Cool J". People. Retrieved April 9, 2013.