Country Rap Is Here: A Survival Guide

June 26, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  65 Comments

Last week, as I predicted, off of the strength of Jason Aldean’s country rap song “Dirt Road Anthem”, his album My Kinda Party took the #1 spot in the country music album charts, and “Dirt Road Anthem” rose to #6 on the song charts. For once, the collusion of country radio rotation managers actually works in favor of country purists, as this is the only thing keeping “Dirt Road Anthem” from being a #1, but the video for the song has been CMT’s #1 video for weeks.

Country rap is here ladies and gentlemen. It has been milling around for a while, but now it is a full-blown chart-topping mainstream-acceptable sub-genre of country, like it or not. So what is a country purist to do? Well I have assembled a survivor’s guide to help you through the inevitable ramp up of country rap parody that Music Row is no doubt manufacturing right now to take advantage of this most ill-conceived of music trends. Here’s your guide to help rebuke some of the ridiculous claims being made by country rap apologists.

Not All Dissension Against Pop Country Is About Race

Without question, many people, if not a majority of the people that have a problem with country rap do so from a very basic reactionary stance based on race. However there are many fundamental reasons to be opposed to country rap that have nothing to do with race at all, and anybody who is willing to speak out against country rap would be wise not to bring up race as the foundation of their argument.

Proponents of country rap are playing the race card as the only reason people are opposed to it. Legendary country music writer Chet Flippo’s article on the subject seems to imply that if you embrace the traditions of country music, you must embrace ALL of them, including the racist ones like blackface comedy and David Allan Coe’s foul-mouthed period. This just simply isn’t true. You can rebuke the racist elements of country, and still rebuke country rap as well.

They also insult the intelligence of country-rap opponents by preaching to them about how the roots of country (as white music) and blues (as black music) are very similar, when many of the elements opposing country rap are the only ones truly embracing the intertwined roots of country and blues. This very site has a blues show on SCM LIVE whose motto is “saving country music with the blues.” The Muddy Roots Festival, the country’s largest independent/underground country music festival, has just as many blues bands in the lineup as country ones, with the fundamental approach of supporting all roots music, regardless of the color of those roots. Hillgrass Bluebilly’s award-winning album Hiram & Huddie put the songs of Hank Williams and Leadbelly side by side. Mainstream country has completely forgotten it’s roots, country and blues, but now brings them up as a convenient truth.

There’s A Difference Between Rapping And Spoken Word

This is the dumbest, and most insulting of the arguments for country rap, that, “Hey, Charlie Daniel’s ‘Devil Went Down To Georgia’ was the first rap song ever because he spoke instead of sang”. Please. Charlie Daniels, Red Sovine, the old cowboy country poets were speaking, and Jason Aldean is rapping, and we all know the difference, and we all know Aldean is rapping because that is the gimmick he’s employed to get people to pay attention to him. Yes, there may be some very minor aesthetic similarities between rap and spoken word, but in no way is “Dirt Road Anthem” an extension of the spoken word tradition of country music, or spoken word in country an originator of rap.

Country Rap is Not Evolution, It’s Devolution

DO NOT fall prey to the idea that country rap is part of the natural evolution of the genre, and that “purists” have always been against “change”. Yes, there were some that fought the electrification of country or the introduction of drums, but rap is not a newly-introduced take on instrumentation, it is a 35-year-old artform being introduced as a last ditch effort to save a dying industry. Country rap is not evolution, it’s devolution by definition. Country music has been trying to evolve for years, but these elements have been pushed into alt-country and Americana, independent and underground channels, as mainstream country favors the quick fix that has done nothing but stultified the music and created an environment of economic uncertainty for the industry.

Country Rap IS Pop Country

Country rap is not an evolution, or an extension of spoken word, it is a version of pop country, and it is important to understand this from a fundamental level. Maybe not ALL country rap is pop country, but the country rap they would play on the radio or you’d see in the charts most definitely is. Music Row knows “pop country” is a bad word to a growing demographic, so they are disguising it, re-branding it as country rap and “new Outlaw” music. But it is still a pop country derivative, and should be approached as such.

Country Rap Is Not Diversity, It Is The Death of Diversity

With the corporate consolidation of radio, we have already bled most of the local and regional flavor off the airwaves to the point where no matter what city you go to, you hear the same songs on the same formatted stations. Now it is getting to the point where you hear the same music no matter what station you’re on. How this can be sold as diversity? Diversity is keeping the differences between genres strong, and celebrating our differences instead of attempting to resolve them.

I’m sure many people think that concern for the infiltration of country rap is tilting at windmills, but the diversity issue is where this becomes about more than just music. America’s “melting pot” ideal is often cited as a primary reason for the strength of the United States. Compromising that diversity could cause social problems and economic problems beyond the world of music.

Not All Country Rap Is The Same

Do not diminish the arguments against country rap by lumping all country rap together. I am sure there has been in the past, and will be in the future, some blends of country and rap that are respectful to the roots of the music, and enjoyable to listen to while not insulting the intelligence of the listener. These projects will likely be ignored by the radio and the industry, but it is not fair to the honesty and heartfelt approach of these artists who are breeding originality through bridging artforms to lump them in with the Jason Aldean’s of the world.

Understand How History Will Judge Country Rap

In the end, the joke will be on them. Look at what happened with the mainstream blending of rock and rap. “Limp Bizkit” is now a punch line, and rock is no longer a viable mainstream genre of American music. The wise will understand that in the future, mainstream country rap will be looked back on and mocked like the pet rock or parachute pants of country. But it is still important, however symbolic, to make a stance against it, especially because of the threat that just like rock music, the infusion of rap could be the last hoary gasp of a dying genre.

65 Comments to “Country Rap Is Here: A Survival Guide”

  • “The wise will understand that in the future, mainstream country rap will be looked back on and mocked like the pet rock or parachute pants of country.”

    In other words, Jason Aldean = Billy Ray Cyrus.

  • UGH i was having a conversation with some guys yesterday and the brought up Colt Ford, i just about cringed. Pretty sad if this is what people think what country is now a days…. you know what, maybe we just ought to write a couple black metal country songs to be completely anti-music row, lol. Or we could just stick to being purists.

    • country rap is here to stay classic country is gone just like the old people that listened to it,,,,, our generation took what we liked of it mixed it with todays lifestyle and country rap is what you get ……….i like willie all 3 hanks coe kid rock bestie boys old emenem dr. dre whiskey woman guns trucks and cold beer …..sffs 132

  • Stupid people listen to stupid music. Screw them.

    • That’s not necessarily true. Sometimes people have not been exposed to something better. Everyone has the right to change their minds.

    • stupid people call something stupid because they dont understand it

  • Brandon, I know you were kidding about Black Metal/Country, but it’s been done. Sort of.
    Appalachian Hunger does country covers of Black Metal songs.
    Link is MySpace and I hate that, but it will let you hear some.

    Country covers of black metal songs.

    Everything under heaven and earth . . .
    Oddly, it kinda works better than country/rap.
    Holy Fuck, the apocalypse . . .

    • The day Burzum saved Mayhem? Oh god, haha. Still it’s way better than country rap. Besides, Hank III and Those Poor Bastards do a sorta Black country type thing.

      • Meant to say the day burzum killed mayhem. Pretty sure Varg didn’t save Euronymous, lol.

        • Sorry that I keep commenting but, this just gets funnier. Just got the Appalachian hunger name too. Nice Darkthrone reference. I’m sure Fenriz would approve, lol.

  • I love hip-hop as much as I love country and I’m not talking about the hip-hop they play on the radio and I’m not talking about the country they play on the radio. This radio fad makes me queasy and I’ll be glad when it’s over.

    Nerd note: People also say the first time rap got into a song was Blondie’s “Rapture” from when she was hanging out with Fab 5 Freddie. I think that’s as much rap as “Devil went down to Georgia” is. “Rapper’s Delight” will always hold the first candle for me. (I think all three were released in ’79)

    • I believe Blondie’s Rapture is tauted as the first mainstream artist doing a rap song.

  • Chet Flippo is clueless as the day is long; not that long ago he actually tried to equate the spoken word with rapping when he said George Strait rapped in “Give It Away.”

    • I hate Chet Flippo, and love him at the same time. Can’t have anything but respect for the man for all the time he’s spent covering country music, but at the same time, his flip flopping views are absolutely maddening. As mad as I was reading that article, next week he will put one out that will have me pumping my fists and yelling, “Tell en Chet!”

  • Remembering that “dirt road” is a euphemism for anal sex puts an entirely new and funny slant on “dirt road anthem”…

    Sorry for the non-sequiter but it sort of fits this discussion of crappy music.

    • is that the kinda dirt roads you roll down ??????
      funny where i come from it is a road made out of dirt but to each there own

  • coolzey w/ will e whitmore and sadat x- ‘tour song too’….money.

  • That Dirt Road song reminds me of when I was in high school, and I would overhear the mentally retarded kids trying to communicate with each other. I used to think that they’d make good rappers. I guess the head of Aldean’s record label must have had the same idea.

    • pretty east to overhear them when you were in the same class with them ….

      still wearing that helmet i see

  • Chet Flippo’s article seems to be an example of the classic strawman argument. Come up with a list of points that that you say “some people” are making and then find ways to refute them. Maddening indeed.

  • Ugh… this all stems back to Colt Ford. Why is this man being so widely accepted into country music? I can understand why the suits like the guy…but why the artists? It’s aggravating.

    I agree with everything you said in this article. I just hope this is a fad and it will pass. The thing that scares me is, Cowboy Troy was a gimmick, you knew he wasn’t going to have any kind of impact on the genre. But Jason Aldean… he’s a big player. With him backing someone like Colt and recording his music and having success with it… it could lead to other artists doing the same thing. I could see Toby Keith, Rascall Flatts, Trace Adkins, or any of these other top artists of today who have no integrity following the same suit to have a successful record. If this happens it could mean big trouble for country radio.

    • Tim McGraw is on colt fords new album, that’s a pretty big name

    • no integedy ?????
      they are artists and they play what they like not what you like
      times are changing and so is county music
      a few haters are not going to stop us

      • Who is “they”? Jason Aldean? Were the Moonshine Bandits mentioned in this article? Did you read this part?

        “Do not diminish the arguments against country rap by lumping all country rap together. I am sure there has been in the past, and will be in the future, some blends of country and rap that are respectful to the roots of the music, and enjoyable to listen to while not insulting the intelligence of the listener. These projects will likely be ignored by the radio and the industry, but it is not fair to the honesty and heartfelt approach of these artists who are breeding originality through bridging artforms to lump them in with the Jason Aldean’s of the world.

        Before you just follow some link on a message board or Facebook/Twitter on marching orders to kick me in the nuts, do yourself a favor and do a little research on who you’re talking to, or at least the discussion at hand.

        • country rap is here to kick you in the nutz thats why you wrote the survival guide

          • Deep.

          • “country rap is here to kick you in the nutz thats why you wrote the survival guide”

            Is that you Shakespeare! I thought you died in 1616

      • What’s “integedy”?

        • It’s integrity with its hat on backwards to keep it realz!

          • Hahahahahahaha!!!!!

      • Wait! This has got to be Ricky from Sunny Vale! How are Julian and Bubbles?? I thought you were in to bands like Rush and Helix!

        • Yeah, Ricky has better taste in music than this guy!

  • People, you’re confusing things and giving way to much credit to the people (record execs, lack luster/dancing chicken artists, and reality show watching fans that eat up this music), this movement from “pop-country” to “rap-country” is exactly what is needed. This is the signal that this horrid music is on the way out. It might take another year or so to filter through, but it is filtering through, don’t doubt that.

    It is all a circle. Rap country will have a lot shorter life than pop country because as much as a few songs might attract folks, true rappers and true country people (albiet similar in what they sing about… real life from their perspective) they can smell and call out a marketing/produced bullshitter in a hurry. Some current “pop country” act, label exec. will rap the wrong rap and say the wrong thing and you can bet that true rap artists will put them back in their place and all of a sudden mainstream country will be like “shit, we gotta get back to traditional stuff.”

    This is about money, and it will run its course, this isn’t about changing what we know as country music forever. If you think that, you are giving guys like Aldean more credit and power than Hank Williams.
    Just like every other era in country music. We went from Hank to Rockabilly to Nashville Sound to Outlaws to 80′s to Garth driven 90′s to Pop Country to Rap Country to…well, HankIII is coming out free. Jamey Johnson is here. And many feeling like them waiting to break through.

  • “this all stems back to Colt Ford.”

    or Bubba Sparxxx….
    or Buck 65…

  • I actually liked Colt Ford. He used to be just a little underground artist doing what he wanted to do, whether it was popular or not, which I respect. I liked him, but I prayed to God that his “country rap” thing would never catch on — pop country all over the radio was worse enough. But now that he is actually catching on, this is very, very bad. Colt used to be his own little unique blend of two different genres — now this is gonna produce little Nashville factory line country rappers.

    God help us all.

    • As long as Colt Ford is seen as a gimmick, it’s fine. I’ve always seen him as a gimmick, that’s why I’ve never gotten too worked up over him, and more importantly, he sees himself as a gimmick. But now that “Dirt Road Anthem” is being taken seriously, he might start to sense he needs to look more into commercial viability than keeping his happy-go-lucky, clownish persona in tact.

      • That’s why they call it the bandwagon. Problem is, if ev’rybody jumps on, who’s pullin’ the cart? There’s plenty of people who want to forge a new path into music, instead of riding coattails and such. Colt Ford has his fifteen minutes. If he wants to try to extend it, then he can either do something worthwhile or try to polish up the old washin’ machine and sell it as “LIKE NEW”.

      • Wow your dense brother!

  • Check out a group called GangstaGrass Its a hip hop group that uses bluegrass musicians and samples old country music. I honestly don’t like the tunes themselves. But I feel its a much better feel of what “country rap” could be than jason aldeans horse shit.

    • Yeah man, I just discovered this group recently and was just about to mention them when I saw your comment. I happen to like it myself (I think). But even though it’s not everyone’s taste, it shows that genres that are so far apart can be combined without bad taste and cheap pandering.

    • I like it – thanks for the mention

  • The Nappy Roots is a good example of “country rap” done right: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbN6VkleO48&feature=related

    • they’re actually on colt fords new album

  • I’m with Christine – country rap is a guilty pleasure of mine (in pretty much all forms – Bubba Sparxxx, Haystak, Cowboy Troy, Moonshine Bandits, Colt Ford, The Lacs, etc. Heck, even folks you’ve never heard of like Jawja Boyz or Dubblewide), but becoming “mainstream” on country radio is not going to be sustainable and will ultimately undermine both genres.

    To his credit, Colt at least went out on his own and started his own label to get around the Nashville establishment. And I don’t blame he or Brantley Gilbert for having a big name artist (gag) like Aldean cover the song (although JA’s version is pretty much the worst butchering of a song I’ve heard in a loooong time).

    Colt and his ilk could be the start of a revolution – or quickly become part of the problem. I think the Big & Rich/Music Mafia movement did the same thing a few years ago (including Cowboy Troy). It grew in popularity, became part of the mainstream establishment, then fizzled.

    I’m for anything that shakes the system, because it desperately needs shaken (I think we can all at least agree on that). I think most of us on this site have a rebellious streak, and if we were around in the “glory days” of country music we probably would have found something to bitch about then too. I can hear us now “DAC’s time in prison (especially spending time on death row) can’t be fully substantiated and Johnny Cash didn’t actually shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die…”.

    I am a little encouraged that some of Colt’s collaborations (“Nickel Sized Hail” with Sunny Ledfurd, “For The Outlawz” with Moonshine Bandits) have kept an edge.

    What do you think of the “For The Outlawz” video, Triggerman? http://tasteofcountry.com/moonshine-bandits-colt-ford-for-the-outlawz-video/

    • Love the video sffs

  • hell yea ^^^^^^ that song is sick ……………times change music changes better get on the train or get ran the f@ck over ………..SFFS132 moonshine bandits

    • I’ll just let it wizz on by.

      • to each there own but this stuff is here to stay

        • I think that was the exact point I was making in this article. Here it is:

          “Country rap is here ladies and gentlemen. It has been milling around for a while, but now it is a full-blown chart-topping mainstream-acceptable sub-genre of country.”

  • You don’t need to save country from country rap! Country is an ever changing thin\g that goes what people want to listen to! Trying to “save us” from something we like is completely un American. If you ask me that’s whats wrong with the stale as country seen. Listen for ten minutes and they all start sounding the same! We need more bands like Moonshine Bandits, Colt Ford and the like, just to keep it interesting.

    tell me this song isn’t country!!

    • “If you ask me that’s whats wrong with the stale as country seen. Listen for ten minutes and they all start sounding the same!”

      First off, it’s “scene”. Second off, if you had a clue who you were talking to, you’d know that is what I’ve been preaching for going on 4 years. It doesn’t mean country rap is the best answer, or the only answer. And if you read the WHOLE article, you’d find I agree it can be part of the answer.

  • So, I love Merle Haggard. I love Hank Williams Sr. I love Country Music. However, I do LOVE this new “sub-genre” called counrty rap as well. I happen to think it’s refreshing. I don’t expect everyone to like it, but obviously by the fact that it’s everywhere and gaining steam faster than a train………….. It’s not going anywhere.

  • Acts like Colt Ford and Moonshine Bandits make music that comes natural to them. They didnt wake up one day, and say “hello, i want to be a country musician today”.

    Dig a little deeper into the music, dig up where they are from-

    The Bandits are from the agricultural capital of the United States (Central Valley California) where farmers and blue collar workers provide over 75% of the vegetables you eat. Their music reflects the hard working common man. Call it country, call it hiphop, call it whatever you want. But its music that is real.
    They have been around the music industry forever doing shows with David Allan Coe, Rev Hornton Heat, Uncle Kracker and more…Cowboys, Bikers, Skaters all the above go to their shows…..Just like Charlies Daniels said, “Call it American Music”…….

    there isn’t a specific platform for this type of music, but there will be soon.

    People grew up on listening to run dmc, beastie boys, ccr, coe, cash so naturally the music they make may be inspired by those artists.


    • Who said anything about the Moonshine Bandits? I know they sent you over here to kick me in the nuts, but where have I mentioned them, in this or any other article? I’ve heard of them, but I will admit, have not heard one note of their music. I went out of my way in this article to say to not lump all country rap together, that there is good stuff not being covered by the mainstream. Ironically, that’s what YALL are doing, lumping it together. Why instead of coming here to refute me, why don’t you offer to send me some of their music? If you believe in it, spread the word. My ear is open sister. But I’ll warn you, I’m tough on all music.

  • Country rap/outlaw rap is a revolt against mainstream country that is force fed through nashville by some douchbag that is not in touch with the real blue collar america.. this outlaw rap movement is here to stay because the writers in nashville ( with exception for a few) that get their “hits” out are completely lost. im tired of hearing the same 20 effin country songs every hour on the hour all damn day long that has absolutely nothinf to say about the real america. i love country music, but the real country music and in my opinion, i am only finding what i really want on XM or satelite radio or in this outlaw rap music movement.. hell, i bet the writer of this “survival” guide is some “cant sell a friggin song he wrote in nashville” guy and is extremely bitter.. i want to see more from the Colt Fords, Moonshine bandits, the Mikel Knights, etc.. at least they are making real music!!

    • I think you are fighting for the same things this site is fighting for, just from a different point of view. Check out some of the other articles.

  • I just want to point out that the Triggerman didn’t mention the Moonshine Bandits once in this article, so chill out. In my opinion, injecting rap into country music is a gimmick, nothing more. It may be here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

  • thanks for the tips. but to survive i’ll just rely on my old school ways & new found hate for this dumb shit and any pretty boy that spues it forth. soon it will be #1 cause the only people buying music from nashville are child rapists or 13 year old girls. and tweens always try the new flavor of the month, they can’t resist. “Dirt Road Anthem” will be triple platnum before ya can spit on a tick. the whole thing creeps me out.

  • Decent article. I don’t fear rap country will last too long or cause too much trouble. However, you compared country to blues. Yes true. Hillbillys singing about losing women and living poor, and blues singers singing about the same thing. However, it is as simple to compare country to rap. And how they are very similar. Country artists sing about the suffering of the poor white folk, and rap artists rap about the suffering of the poor black folk. Nothing bad about that. I hate to use the race arguement, as you mentioned. But, outlaw country is about getting drunk and causing trouble, and gangsta rap is about getting high and causing trouble. And aren’t there still plenty of white country boys out there still slouching their pants, with an afro-pic in their mullet? Heck, I think it’s great when I see black guys at country shows.

    Or maybe country music is for the rural areas and rap is for the city folk? Heck, blend it all. These young folks will eat it right up. Especially these young folks nowadays who disrespect their elders and don’t actually understand traditions, history, and what popular country music really needs.

  • [...] first pointed this out this tactic in my Survival Guide to Country Rap, how some would attempt to explain how really, country and rap are the same thing, so what’s [...]

  • [...] to find the few instances where the bridging of the two genres actually works. As I said in my Survival Guide to Country Rap: Do not diminish the arguments against country rap by lumping all country rap together. I am sure [...]

  • As is the curse of reading older articles out of order, I’m not EXACTLY sure how Rap is different than spoken words. Do you have an article on the subject? Also, isn’t Rap merely spoken words that rhyme (or am I branding it too simply)?

  • I for one kinda like Big Smo and that’s it for country rap, but what that one guy said, even though he was joking, we need metal in country. Not black metal, just metal. I think it would be a cool experiment for the time being. In the year 2014 pop has taken over the world. I told a guy at school today he wasn’t a real man for liking Ariana Grande. It’s my opinion. But I still think we should give country metal a try for a while. If it works, maybe music will start following country instead of country folling music.

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