Jun
19

How Hip-Hop Stole Country Music: The Arrival of the Mono-Genre

June 19, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  68 Comments
kid-rock-lil-wayne-cma-awards-2008

Kid Rock & Lil’ Wayne at 2008 CMA Awards

It was November of 2008 at the annual Country Music Association Awards, and Kid Rock came out on stage to perform “All Summer Long,” a remixed rap rock song that borrows from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Warren Zevon. Never before had such a non-country genre-bending song been performed on the CMA stage, but considering Kid Rock’s strong ties to the country music industry, the performance seemed par for country’s course of slowly contemporizing away from its traditions….except for one curious thing.

Trailing Kid Rock out on the stage was hip-hop icon Lil’ Wayne. It was curious that Lil’ Wayne was there, but not completely surprising. Lil’ Wayne had performed “All Summer Long” with Kid Rock only 2 months before at MTV’s VMA Awards. But instead of rapping like he did at the VMA’s, Lil’ Wayne just sort of stood there, pretending to strum a guitar that clearly was not in the mix.

Why was Lil’ Wayne there? Nobody was quite sure, but at the time Saving Country Music surmised that this was an act of desensitization from Music Row in Nashville. Facing nearly a decade of declining sales and needing something to shake up the landscape, allowing rap to infiltrate country’s inner sanctum could be a way to grow country’s fan base, entice younger listeners, and maintain the commercial viability of the industry. The country music industry would have to warm the country fan base up to the idea first. So bring Kid Rock out, and Lil’ Wayne with him, but don’t allow anyone to rap just yet. There would be time for that down the road.

Just 2 weeks after the 2008 CMA’s, country rap king Colt Ford released his first major album Ride Through The Country, and soon small but well-supported independent country rap outfits like the LoCash Cowboys and Moonshine Bandits began to emerge, creating a substantial country rap underground that saw significant success in the YouTube realm, garnering 5 and 6 million hits on some videos despite having no initial label support, and no radio play. Country rap had already been around way before 2008, with Cowboy Troy releasing his debut album Loco Motive back in 2005, and many other independent artists dabbling with the genre blending concept years before. But Colt Ford began to open the door of acceptance for country rap in the mainstream by collaborating with country artists like Jamey Johnson, John Michael Montgomery, and Brantley Gilbert. Country rap songs were still not receiving radio play or award show accolades though. The country rap commodity was just too risque for mainstream labels and radio programmers to get behind, and it remained a very small sliver of the greater country music pie.

jason-aldean-ludacris

Jason Aldean & Ludacris at the 2011 CMT Awards

Then came Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem,” a song that initially appeared on Colt Ford’s first album and co-written with Brantley Gilbert, and everything changed. A mild-mannered song compared to most country rap, and coming from a polished Caucasian performer that the mainstream country community was already comfortable with, country rap was able to finally find it’s acceptance on the popular country radio format. In early June of 2011 at the CMT Awards hosted by Kid Rock, Jason Aldean came out to perform the quickly-rising single, and hip-hop artist Ludacris joined Aldean on stage, this time to actually rap. “History has been made baby!” Ludacris declared from the stage, and it had been. Mainstream country now had its country rap cherry officially popped, and rap was now a viable, accepted art form in country music.

And it would become a commercially successful one too when “Dirt Road Anthem” eventually hit #1 on the Billboard charts in late July of 2011. The effects of “Dirt Road Anthem” hitting #1 were significant. Radio programmers who had been reluctant to bring country rap to the airwaves for years had officially waved the white flag. At the time Saving Country Music also predicted:

Just like how you can blame a blizzard on a rash of births nine moths later, the Music Row machine undoubtedly is being retooled to meet the burgeoning country rap demand, and we will be seeing the results in the upcoming months. The only question is, in what form will it be? Will we see established artists adopting the new style? Or will it be the popularization of the Colt Fords and Moonshine Bandits of the world?

The prediction of Music Row retooling to become a assembly line for country rap was correct. What was not correct was the timeline. Apparently 9 months lead time was a little too optimistic, and after “Dirt Road Anthem” dominated the charts, country rap went somewhat dormant in mainstream country for nearly 1 1/2 years. “Dirt Road Anthem” was the best selling single in all of country in 2011. But in 2012, country rap was virtually absent from the mainstream country scene. As Saving Country Music explained looking at 2012 end-of-year sales numbers:

Rap sales were significantly down in 2012, bucking the trend of being one of the few areas of strength during music’s decade-long decline. Similarly, unlike 2011 when Jason Aldean’s country-rap “Dirt Road Anthem” was the best-selling single in all of country, 2012 did not see a dominant country-rap single, album, or artist. Rap is still asserting itself as an influence in country, but may not be finding the commercial strength it needs to stick. 2012 mono-genre songs like Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah” underperformed to expectations, never cracking Billboard’s Top 10 on the country chart.

Then came 2013, and “1994,” Jason Aldean’s follow-up country rap to “Dirt Road Anthem.” Though the song was a little too fey for mainstream country ears and topped out at #10 on the Billboard charts, it was the spearhead to what would become a massive and historic influx of country rap songs and influences flooding the country music format heading into the summer of 2013.

Florida Georgia Line w/ Nelly at the 2012 ACM Awards (photoEthan Miller/Getty Images)

Florida Georgia Line w/ Nelly at the 2012 ACM Awards (photo Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Blake Shelton, the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year and influential personality from his work on the popular reality TV show The Voice, released his own country rap song “Boys ‘Round Here” that quickly became a #1. Country duo Florida Georgia Line who regularly incorporates Ebonic verbiage in their songs achieved a #1 single with “Cruise” that is currently poised to become the best selling song of 2013. When the duo remixed the smash hit with hip-hop star Nelly, it created yet another chart-topping country rap collaboration.

All of a sudden, hip-hop influences were, and currently are dominating the top of the country music charts, asserting just as much influence, if not more than indigenous country influences, with a bevy of new country rap tunes from numerous artists ready to be released, and mainstream artists lining up to try and be a part of the trend. Brad Paisley and LL Cool J made waves by collaborating on the country rap song “Accidental Racist.” 90′s country star Joe Diffie, the muse for Jason Aldean’s country rap “1994,” has released an “answer” song called “Girl Ridin’ Shotgun” with the Jawga Boyz to attempt to exploit the renewed attention for his career. And Luke Bryan has recorded a country rap song with Auto-Tune maestro T Pain to be released soon.

But the infiltration of country rap is not just confined to underground circles and mainstream collaborations, it has touched the very foundations of country’s traditions and history. In May of 2013, the rapping grandson-in-law of Waylon Jennings named “Struggle” released an album with 7 of the 9 songs being Waylon tunes with Struggle rapping over them. The country rapping LoCash Cowboys have a song called “Best Seat in the House” from their new self-titled album that includes a collaboration with the recently-deceased George Jones—an icon of traditional country fans who traditionally do not favor the influx of rap influences in country music. The country rap collaboration is possibly the final track George Jones ever recorded.

The Pistol Annies, Miranda Lambert, & Ashley Monroe are considered favorites of mainstream traditional country fans. They collaborated on Blake Shelton's country rap "Boys 'Round Here"

The Pistol Annies, Miranda Lambert, & Ashley Monroe–considered favorites of mainstream traditional country fans–collaborating on Blake Shelton’s country rap “Boys ‘Round Here.”

Other artists that are traditionally seen as respites from the commercial trends in Nashville like Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and their mutual band The Pistol Annies have participated in the country rap craze, leaving mainstream country fans that are looking to avoid the trend few options. The Pistol Annies appeared in Blake Shelton’s country rap song and video “Boys ‘Round Here,” and Miranda Lambert participated in the “celebrity remix” of the song, even though at one point she took to Twitter to proclaim that remixes “pissed her off.”

Ashley Monroe appears in a just released acoustic version of the Macklemore rap song “Thrift Shop.” June of 2013 has been jam packed with new country rap song and video releases, with new collaborations rumored seemingly every day as artists and labels scramble to figure out how to capitalize on the country rap phenomenon.

Which begs the next question, is this a craze that will show a predictable lightning-fast life span and quickly fizzle, or are we seeing the long-forecasted dramatic, wholesale, long-term change in the traditional genre formats of American music, where all genres coalesce into one big mono-genre where contrast and diversity between disparate art forms will be resolved, leaving no true regionalism and no cultural separation, just one homogeneous corporate American music culture?

That remains to be seen. But wherever country rap goes, we can say with confidence that the way country music sounds in the summer of 2013 is very similar to the way the mono-genre would sound like if it is realized in the long-term.

Potential Ramifications of Rap’s Infiltration of Country

The benefits of the emerging mono-genre can be the breakdown of musical prejudices across genre lines, but the main impetus is the broadening of markets of music consumers for record labels to take advantage of. Though traditional genres can be helpful to consumers by classifying the style of the music so they can choose if it is worth their time, genres limit the scale of potential consumers for a given music franchise.

The problem with the mono-genre, especially for country music is the potential loss of autonomy and control over the music by the genre, both sonically and through the genre’s infrastructure and institutions. During music’s lost decade of the 2000′s when the industry bobbled the move to digitization, country music weathered the storm much better than other genres because it had its own built-in institutions like the CMA and ACM Awards shows, and the Country Music Association itself which unites US radio broadcasters around the country format. And unlike hip-hop or rock and roll, country music is heavily steeped in tradition, with legacy institutions like The Grand Ole Opry acting as pillars for the music. But if the term “country” can’t define a well-recognized sound, it risks diminishing the effectiveness and viability of these country music institutions in the long term.

Since the beginning, country has taken a submissive role to hip-hop in the formation of the mono-genre. Though you may find some small exceptions, country influences have not encroached on the mainstream hip-hop format virtually at all, and certainly haven’t risen to the point of dominating the hip-hop charts, like hip-hop influences are now dominating the country charts. Helping this trend along is Billboard’s new chart rules that take into consideration sales and plays of music from other genres in rating country artists. So country artists whose songs cross over to the pop or hip-hop formats gain extra points compared to their pure country counterparts.

Taylor Swift and B.O.B. have collaborated in the hip hop world. And so have Tim McGraw & Chris Brown.

Taylor Swift and B.O.B. have collaborated in the hip hop world. And so have Tim McGraw & Chris Brown.

Hip-hop is in the cat bird’s seat in the mixing of the two genres. Artists like Ludacris, Nelly, and Lil’ Wayne can benefit from the exposure the country format gives them, but hip-hop doesn’t have to return the favor. The reason there are no country-influenced songs at the top of the hip-hop chart is because the hip-hop community would not allow it.

Hip-hop as a genre is secure and confident in its standing with young demographics, and in its future, while country seems to be constantly wanting to apologize for itself and find new ways to attract younger listeners. Hip-hop artists are just sitting back, waiting for the managers of mainstream country artist to call looking for collaborations, and all of a sudden the hip-hop artists’ name and music are exposed to an entirely new crowd.

Some mainstream country artists like Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift have participated in hip-hop collaborations not featured in the country format, but the collaborations are almost always done on hip-hop’s terms, with the purpose of exposing hip-hop artists to a wider audience primarily, instead of vice versa.

The debate about the encroachment of rap and other hip-hop influences into country is much broader than disagreements based on taste. To maintain the autonomy and integrity of country music’s institutions, the genre music keep in check influences from other mediums. The argument regularly made for allowing hip-hop influences to infiltrate the format is that country music needs something new to continue to grow and appeal to new audiences and younger people. What this argument fails to recognize is that rap in itself is an over 30-year-old art form, and that it has a dubious history when mixing with other genres at the mainstream level.

limp-bizkit

The rap rock movement with bands like Limp Bizkit happened right before rock began to lose its place as the dominant American music genre.

When rap mixed with mainstream rock in the mid 90′s with acts like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, it was seen as the beginning of the mainstream rock format losing its identity, and the diminishing of rock music’s control over its radio format and institutions. This gave rise to “indie” rock, and punk and metal undergrounds that purposely avoided mainstream rock avenues and robbed talent from the mainstream ranks. Soon rock ceased to be the catch-all term for guitar-based American music, and country and hip-hop emerged as the more dominant and influential genres. Eventually rock artists like Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow, Aaron Lewis of Staind, Kid Rock, and many more had to solicit country for support in the aftermath of mainstream rock’s implosion.

It is unfair to completely hypothesize what will happen with the mixing of country and hip-hop by what happened in the past because of the tremendous flux the music industry is experiencing due to the ever-evolving technology quotient. Everything an educated guess at best these days in music. But what we do know is that we will discover what the effects of the mono-genre will be because it is unquestionably upon us. The next question is, will it stick around, or will the mono-genre break back down into its traditional genres in the future? How country music as an institution will endure the changes remains to be seen, but country would be wise to keep open a debate on influence, tradition, and autonomy, with a very long-term perspective always in mind. Because if not, country artists could be finding themselves searching for another genre for support, just as rock artists did in the aftermath of hip-hop infiltrating its genre.

68 Comments to “How Hip-Hop Stole Country Music: The Arrival of the Mono-Genre”

  • The first person to 1) Complain this is too long 2) Ask me if I’ve ever heard Gangstagrass, I will reach through your computer screen and poke you in the eyeballs Three Stooges style. I have that capability.

       39 likes

    • Larry: I can’t see, I can’t see.

      Moe: Whats the matter???

      Larry: I got my eyes closed.

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      • Nyuk nyuk, nyuk!

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  • I don’t want rap in my country music in any way shape or from. With the new crop of artists like Taylor and company who don’t respect the roots of the genre this will happen.

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    • LOL COUTRY SUCKS and hip hop is way too good to have your gargabge music mixed with it.

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  • Good article, I’ve been thinking about a lot of these things too.

    A few thoughts:

    1) There was a time when the only “rap” in country was to mock it. Remember Confederate Railroad’s I hate Rap http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3IxEsjRWM8

    Not that insightful or good; but worth considering how much times have changed. You also have songs like the Lost Trailers Holler Back which kind of mocked the idea of country boys acting Hip Hop.

    2) Another example of how this didn’t fly not too long ago is Snoop Dogg’s attempt at rap-country My Medicine in 2007.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWCa3GvbNUE

    He had Willie Nelson and Brad Paisley on the song, and I remember CMT was really promoting it at the time, but it completely flopped. I hated it at the time (especially his intro “I like to dedicate this record right here to my main man Johnny Cash, a real American gangster”) but in retrospect, it is better than almost all other rap-country songs out there.

    3) I don’t know how responsible Kid Rock making his forways into Country is for this. I don’t see All Summer Long as hip hop in any sense. As you note there is no rapping; but I don’t think they even sampled Sweet Home Alabama and Werewolves of London; they simply took their riffs (I may be wrong–but certainly when he plays it live, they aren’t using a DJ or anything like that). Anyway, not my favorite song; but I have to say I feel like Kid Rock seems to have genuine respect for real country and even though I don’t like a lot of his stuff. It seems like when he sings country, it sounds relatively more country than most of the other stuff on CMT.

    However, I do have to say that I feel like the Kid Rock persona he created at his peak in the late 90s is sort of responsible for creating the image of a Redneck Rapper; which certainly affected the culture of a lot of rural and country kids who then became prime for Rap-Country.

    I remember in 2008, when Bristol Palin’s babydaddy’s myspace page was making the rounds; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/01/levi-johnston-bristol-pal_n_123089.html that he must have modeled himself off of Kid Rock.

    4) The Ashley Monroe song seems kind of more of an ironic cover (akin to the Gourds Gin and Juice or Nina Gordon’s Staight out of Compton) than really Rap-Country. Anyway, I don’t really have a problem with it. (Boys Round here is another story)

    5) Pop and Rock Stars “going country” has been occurring for decades. Sometime for good and sometime for Ill, and I don’t think you can attribute any of the people you listed Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow, Aaron Lewis , or Kid Rock going country to the implosion of the scene. Rucker and Crow were in a different scene (they were always “adult contemporary”) from all the Limp Bizkit type stuff that I can’t imagine it having much of an effect. Kid Rock and Lewis were in a genre which aimed at angst filled teenagers and as they got old, they couldn’t see the same persona.

    Anyway, I’m not too fond of any of their efforts; but I think all of their country efforts are better than the average crap on CMT.

       6 likes

    • I do think that Kid Rock has always had a true love for country music, however trashy the persona he chooses to present may turn off folks, including my self. And that is why regardless of how much he might use country influences in his music, he has the respect to not call himself country. He is also willing to call out the fakeness of country music, and in all of music for that matter, and support smaller artists. He was a presenter on the recent Billboard Music Awards, and directly called out performers for lip syncing.

      Then there is this quote from KID Rock from a 2009 CMT interview:

      “I think what country can do to better its image is to be more themselves — to try not to be part of the pop world and not try to be part of the mainstream. … If you really want to get down to country music, just be more of that, exactly what it is. So, go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated. You can have a much more enjoyable experience in life with everything.”

      I think that Colt Ford has had much more influence on the infiltration of rap in country because he did it from the inside out, working through country’s deeply-rooted and well-established songwriting channels. This is where Music Row goes first for new ideas. Kid Rock certainly played a role, but always from the outside looking in.

      As for the whole rock stars migrating into country, I won’t argue the specifics, but I will say, tell me the name of one country star that started in country and then migrated to rock? I guess there must be some. Elvis maybe, but he was more rackabilly. I understand this is more of a long-term trend of rock artists going country (Jerry Lee Lewis comes to mind), but the difference now is that rock music no longer has a defined nucleus. It exists all around the edges, with nothing in the middle. Even bands like Coldplay are more animals of pop than rock these days.

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      • I think we’re both on the same page with Kid Rock.

        As for country stars who rent rock, Not a clear cut case; but Linda Ronstadt gained fame as a country singer, but peaked as a rock/pop star in the late 70s. Two caveats are that she started off playing folk music, and that she was always considered country rock–but as far as I know she was always accepted as a country singer unlike say Gram Parson.

        The same can be said for the Eagles and Grateful Dead; though they were never really considered country.

        Maybe Taylor Swift. I don’t think anyone pretends that Red sounds remotely country; but I don’t know if there is a difference between “crossover” and “Going rock””

        Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines, but that was just a theme album; and you’re best friend Shooter Jennings had that weird industrial rock album; but again not really permanent things–though how permanent are a lot of the “gone country” artists.

        Anyway, I think part of it is that–for a long time Rock was considered a youth sound; while Country never really was. Now that we have all these overage rock stars, that’s less the case but there are still genres like Punk, nu-Metal etc. where it just seems really really wrong for someone in their 40s, much less their sixties to be jumping around and screaming on stage; so country may be more mellow.

        The other reason is that Since Rock n roll, country has never been as big commercially as Rock; and frankly most Rock Stars are bigger than country stars so I think some country fans think its cool when someone from Rock (or for that matter, rap) decides to play country; while fans of the other genre haven’t heard of the country singer.

        A key case in point is Accidental Racist. Brad Paisley is one of the most popular country singers in the nation; but it was clear reading the reaction that a good number of the journalists had never heard of him–or had just the faintest idea of who he was. In contrast, LL Cool J peaked in 1990 and hasn’t had a solo hit in nearly a decade; but most country fans under 40 know who he is.

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        • But LL Cool J benefits from being a public figure through his acting gigs. So does Blake Shelton from The Voice. The reason some folks are saying Blake Shelton keeps winning The Voice is because he’s a much bigger star than the other judges and so he can turn out a better vote. I agree Brad Paisley was a pretty fey star outside of country…before he cut “Accidental Racist.” Now he’s a household name, and that’s probably the reason he did it. And that’s the reason many of these franchise country stars feel they must cut a country rap track to keep up with their peers.

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  • The real litmus test will be the emergence (or lack thereof) of solely country-rap acts in the mainstream. Yes, mainstream acts are releasing individual songs and collaborations, but until country music gets its Limp Bizkit this can only be labeled as a trend. We haven’t entered that circle of hell yet.

    The signs aren’t positive, but if we ride out the rash of summer songs (written and consumed as throwaways anyway), some of this might die down by the end of the year. Right? Maybe?

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    • If country rap continues to be commercially successful, I can definitely see a LoCash Cowboys or Moonshine Bandits be picked up by a major label and attempt to infiltrate country radio, or some yet-unforseen smaller, more marketable country rap band. I’m sure Music Row is already scouring the country looking for them, especially with the success of Florida-Georgia Line. Cound this be a summer phenomenon? I thought country rap might have met it’s end in 2012, so I’m tired of underestimating the trend. At this point, all bets are off.

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  • Gangstagrass?! What the hell is that? Tupac rapping over Del McCoury songs?

       7 likes

  • Damn. I’ve never been more disheartened and confused after reading one of your articles, but you hit the bullet on the head, the heart, and the balls for good measure. Great work, even if it’s just preaching to the choir. At least Isbell, Simpson, and Moreland basically saved the year last week.

       3 likes

  • I have to ask only because I was thinking about this a few months ago. Could C.W. McCall be considered country rap? “Convoy” gets pretty chatty.

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  • I think this is part of a cultural shift, with our music only as evidence. As long as country folks continue to be encouraged to become caricatures of ourselves and our culture, then our real, authentic, historic culture (both the good & the bad) is no more.

    At that point, it’s a short drive to country-rap and songs that only seem to celebrate the most mindless aspects of “country” living.

       4 likes

    • Country rap is just the natural devolution of the laundry list country song. They keep simplifying the music more and more to appeal to the lowest common denominator to the point where it is just a catchy beat and rhythmic lyrics that don’t need to make sense.

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      • Trig your comment reminds me of an old Houston Marchman song Viet Nashville “He said it’s about money boy money in the bank country ain’t in to know exsitential angst. You gotta write for the cash not for the soul, right then and there I knew I was bound to roll out of Nashville, Viet Nashville.” That song is at least 15 years old. Prophetic in a way.

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  • I think you have now have had at least 20 years of white kids from the burbs, cities and even the rural areas being into rap. Just like us late 40′s and up folks grew up with rock and roll being one of the primary musical influences of our youth. As a result, just like Rock influencing country in older generations Rap and Hip Hop incluenced country music in the last couple of generations. Hence, the success of a Colt Ford etc. It was inevitable. I despise it, hate it and loathe it. However, it is what it is. I think the mono genere is here in a lot of ways already and is here to stay. The answer in my mind is supporting independent music scenes like my beloved Texas/ Red dirt Scene and others. Texas/Red dirt is not without it’s blame heck Colt Ford is a Texas based act. Thankfully, so is Dale Watson. It sickens me seriously, I personally hate rap and hip hop to my core. Thank God in spite of it all I have lots of good choices.

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  • I do believe the more of this crap that is produced that it will push many people to rediscover more traditional sounding country artists. This is a fad that will hopefully have a backlash effect on pop country and in turn revitalize genuine country music.

       8 likes

  • Hank Jr’s in the celebrity version of Boys ‘Round Here….What… the…. Fuck?

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    • Still love Hank Jr. and always will, but he could have been one of those artists with the weight and the propensity to all out stuff like this. Instead he’s participating, hoping to hold on to his relevancy as a mainstream artist instead of embracing his legacy status and growing old gracefully.

      If country rap is ever going to be put in check, it MUST come from the artists. Fans and bloggers can wring their hands and wave their fists all they want, but that artists are the ones that hold the real power. And unfortunately, more of them seem to want to participate instead of stand up.

         10 likes

    • To me Hank Jr. sold out years ago. The man hasn’t made anything great since the early 90′s hell maybe 80′s. He has always tried to live off 2 things his ‘Country Boy Can Survive” song and “Are You Ready for Some Football”. You see him collaborate with Kid Rock, and Uncle Cracker.

         7 likes

      • I agree his out put has been subpar for awhile.However, everytime I listed to an old record like New South, Hank Jr and friends i’ve got to cut him a lifetime of slack because dang those and several others are just that good.

           4 likes

  • If you want to get down to the basics, it’s just a big melted down shitpot for money hungry music biz bigwigs to get their hands in every fucking pie they can. They don’t give a shit about the music, as don’t any of these so called artists. I’ve said it once, I’ll keep saying it, music is not a commodity, it’s a resource. Therein lies the problem. I can’t wait until this shitwave has ran it’s course and someone gets us back to what matters…………..music.

       4 likes

  • “Because if not, country artists could be finding themselves searching for another genre for support, just as rock artists did in the aftermath of hip-hop infiltrating its genre.”

    Aren’t we already seeing the beginning of this with Mumford and Sons and bands like it that are featured on MTV when now they are considered rock music instead of folk, bluegrass, or country?

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    • Mumford & Sons was never rock, and why they showed up on the rock charts is a whole other discussion. I just got an email saying Steve Martin is replacing them at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival because of the bass player’s brain surgery. Mumford isn’t being pushed through country channels (mostly) because they’re too good, and aren’t being pushed through bluegrass channels because they’re too big. They’re an anomaly all to their own and not sure if you can use them to determine anything.

         6 likes

  • Could Lil Wayne and a cowboy hat be around the corner?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtrDj1xcuug

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  • When the Top 40 mainstream country music realm started becoming part of the overall American pop culture scene, this sort of homogenization became inevitable. The process got well under way after the mid 1990′s radio consolidation moves by large conglomerates and the massive commercial appeal of Garth Brooks and Shania Twain helped moved this train on down the tracks. I think what cemented Top 40 country radio as part of mainstream pop culture was Carrie Underwood’s win on American Idol and the subsequent great success in the format Carrie has experienced. Carrie brought a huge new pop-culture obsessed fan base to country radio and they haven’t gone away. Taylor Swift has done the same thing but in a completely different manner and currently Taylor stands as a bona-fide pop culture icon. It’s these pop culture savvy souls that not only accept rap’s infiltration of mainstream country music but welcome it!

    I lost interest in mainstream country music years ago due to its overall level of mediocrity and sameness (with a few notable exceptions like Zach Brown and the now defunct Eden’s Edge) and this embrace of rap is only driving me further away! I still keep an ear out for the Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves types but they are few and far between these days. And this from a guy who likes the Gangstagrass song “Long Hard Times To Come” from the FX series “Justified”.

       4 likes

  • I love good hip-hop and I love country music. I HATE country rap more than anybody. It takes unbelievable talent to be even above average in either genre, yet somehow, you combine the two and I want to poke my eyeballs out. Like you’ve said many times, hip-hop will not accept country, which is why we see washed up and desperate hip-hop acts doing the collaborating.

    Solid quote by Kid Rock you brought up there too.

       3 likes

  • I’ve been thinking the same thing. It’s gotta get to the point eventually where people realize how ridiculous the shit is that’s being shoved down their throats and stop buying it. Then Borchetta and the other big whig label douche (can’t think of his name right now) will start to promote authentic, genuine artistry in an attempt to find the market and it will all come full circle. That’d be a fairly disappointing way to win the battle as I’d much rather see Nashville be infiltrated from the outside rather than with their help but this is just random ramblings that cross my mind anyhow.

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    • Mike Curb = other label douche

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    • Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.

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  • Two thoughts surface in my mind in the meantime.

    *

    Firstly, an analogy I have chosen to adopt in reflecting on rap’s infiltration of the country music establishment is that of Monsanto and genetically-modified organisms infiltrating vast corn and soybean fields.

    From the onset, most casual country radio listeners wanted absolutely nothing to do with rap in country music just as the vast majority of Americans wanted at the very least for all food products containing GMOs to be labeled. But much like Monsanto has circumvented public opinion and has aggressively continued to seize the market on their terms, label executives have eschewed the interest of longtime country listeners by manipulating the establishment from the inside out: firstly by the cross-breeding of urban slang/Ebonix among Music Row’s cadre of songwriters.

    The way I see it, as long as the ubiquity of urban slang/Ebonix remains the mode in which younger demographics (who will eventually age and influence the subsequent generation) converse……………I fear this will indeed prove to be a “long-forecasted dramatic, wholesale, long-term change.” Because the fact of the matter is, while country music has traditionally been the go-to format for cream-of-the-crop storytelling and balladeering, it used to have its place across other formats as well. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a single that authentically goes out of its way to tell a story on most any format where, in their place, you have incessant three to four-minute ditties that fire umpteen rounds of non-sequiturs.

    Much like many genetically-modified organisms have already contaminated many non-treated crops, the roots of urban slang/Ebonix have already seized much of the country listening establishment. In programming this wave of listeners, I am quite confident we’re in for a larger long-term change of the format.

    *

    Secondly, there is one other important facet of this to consider, and that is the fact that “Cruise” has come a Top Ten Mainstream Top 40 Airplay hit. Toby Keith’s “I Wanna Talk About Me” never achieved crossover airplay success. Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” never achieved crossover airplay success. In fact, no artist that can legitimately be defined as “country” in the sense it is their unmistakable primary format abode has impacted Mainstream Top 40 radio to this extent since Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” became a Top Ten hit mid-way through the previous decade.

    Florida-Georgia Line has changed all that. There are many pop listeners who remain so adamant in wanting nothing to do with country music on the basis of hearing “twangy vocals” alone. But now, Tyler Hubbard’s ridiculously exaggerated “twangy vocals” are being heard everywhere on Mainstream Top 40 radio……….and the saddest part in all of this is that when younger listeners hear this song that happens to have a twangy vocal, regardless of whether the listener enjoys or hates what they’re hearing……….they’re going to think THIS is what country music sounds like! -__-

    And that will only embolden label executives to push Blackjack Billy to super-stardom next and clone several dozen more Florida-Georgia Lines that will egregiously one-up Florida-Georgia Line on the Ebonix and rap battle shenanigans! We’ll probably also see Jake Owen wade into country dubstep to further muddy the waters. -__-

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    • On one remaining side-note: I just heard Sheryl Crow’s new supposedly “country” single for the first time today, and I noticed listening to it that she name-drops acoustic singer-songwriter Jack Johnson.

      Honestly, if the next major trend on country radio happens to be reverting back to a Jack Johnson-esque stripped-down sound with just acoustic guitars and light percussion, it would probably be all for the best in my view. The songwriting will likely still be lunkheaded (just like a lot of Chesney’s brand of “island country” lacks the air of intelligence and philosophizing frequently intact in Jimmy Buffett’s music) frat-country fare, but at least it will be a welcome respite from all the chicken-fried metal and rap battling (as sad as that kind of sounds) -__-

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    • I can’t tell the difference between GM and organic fruits or vegetables when I eat them. And yes, I’m aware of the concern about cross-fertilization in some cases; but it is not pervasive enough to mean that every tomato in the country is somehow the same. This is not to say that there are not any health concerns etc (I honestly don’t know the facts) but if there are, then it’s something that I can’t perceive until its too late.

      In contrast, the difference between Waylon Jennings and Colt Ford is quite obviously to me regardless if they are both labeled “country.”

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    • It’s interesting to see that Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” is still #1 on the Billboard Hot Country and Digital chart, but doesn’t even show up at all on the country airplay. That means the song’s continued success is being completely supported by either other genres or by social network/videos, etc. This by definition is country music losing control of its product.

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      • or it’s bowels

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  • I think I agree with this for the most part. Country + rap equals crap most of the time, although I wouldn’t write out the potential for there to be a good country rap song eventually.

    I wouldn’t call “All Summer Long” ‘rap’ or even ‘hip-hop’ – it basically rips off two famous rock songs (“Sweet Home Alabama” and “Werewolves of London”), but there isn’t any hip-hop. It did get significant airplay at country radio, but that is most likely due to it having SHA in it, and seeing as that Kid Rock was actively promoting it to the format, it makes sense for him to have played it. I don’t have much respect for Kid Rock’s music as a whole (way too profane for my taste), but I do respect the fact that he doesn’t seem concerned about how his albums and singles chart – he refused to sell “All Summer Long” digitally, which essentially prevented it from going number-one on the overall chart. To put it this way – the Kid Rock version peaked at #23 based on airplay alone. Two seperate karaoke versions charted at #19 and #29, based entirely on iTunes sales. Not many singers, let alone labels, will allow that, and not many singers will actively deny themselves of a number-one smash, and I have a great deal of respect for not bowing to pressure on allowing digital downloads.

    As for Miranda Lambert featuring on the ‘guest version’ – she was already on the main version, as part of the Pistol Annies. Their labels and the fact that she is Blake’s wife both probably had factors in getting ‘main credit’. Further, the ‘guest version’ itself only differs from the main version in that singers sing the ‘redneck’ bit instead of a loop. Is that really a proper remix? I think what she was referring to is remixes that fundamentally alter a song (ie. the “Cruise” remix or other pop-remixes of ‘country songs’).

    I’m very disappointed in Tim McGraw for being part of the ‘crap’ movement. In spite of his new material, much of his 90s and early 2000s stuff is very good neotraditional country. Songs like “Just to See You Smile” (one of my favorite mainstream country songs) and “Where the Green Grass Grows” are outright led by riffs from country instruments (steel guitar/fiddle in the former, fiddle in the latter), and neither would be hits today because they are ‘too country’. Say what you will about pop country or country pop, but I think that 90s and early 2000s isn’t bad. The difference between the music now and then is obvious – today, distorted guitars and loud drums dominate. Back then, it was typically a fair mix of electric guitar, steel guitar, and fiddle, along with more country-sounding drum arrangements. That is what I dislike – you can listen to country radio for hours without hearing a noticeable, prominent steel guitar riff. Country is being overpowered not just by rap, but also by rock (particularly southern rock and the lighter end of mainstream rock) and pop. The main difference is, they are already considered ‘normal’, while country rap is not considered that yet.

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    • I understand the infractions (for lack of a better word) with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe are slight and may have been done for humor. But when fit in the broader puzzle, they show a bigger picture. Just appreciate all of these new songs and collaborations have surfaced in a manner of weeks. Country rap’s rise in 2013 has been meteoric.

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  • The beginning of all this Country rap crap started with Nelly and Tim McGraw with “All in My Head.” From time to time I’m curious and ask friends of mine who have nothing to do with music and are consumers only why they enjoy listening to this when the lyrics are horrible, beat is sub-par, etc. etc. They honestly can’t tell me.
    They either say well I don’t listen to lyrics or the lead singer is hot or it’s just a fun tune….:|. I’m just glad that someone like Trigger finally has the exact same opinion on all of this crap that they are calling “country”

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  • When Scott Borschetta and I have turned the legacy of country music to ashes, then country music finally has my permission to die!

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  • was hip-hop icon Lil’ Wayne. i’m Sorry Trig this just isn’t true.

    i’m Happy my 2 All time Favorites Strait/Jones Never will/did be apart of this sh**.

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  • This is too long.

    Really though, great fuckin’ read. There are some points in there that I hadn’t thought of ( I guess I let my searing hatred for the current state of music blind me to reason, haha).

    Well written, and thoughtful.

    Another great article, Trig.

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  • ” Country rap’s rise in 2013 has been meteoric.”

    I accidentally tuned in a “country” radio station last night, for a few minutes and heard a succession of two or three tunes that featured some rapping.

    I suppose they can also figure out ways to use someone like Pauly “D” or Deadmau5 as well. Maybe that’s next.

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  • Even Ronnie Dunn’s new song fesatures him rapping! It is awful!

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  • Dude, why do you spend your time writing articles like this instead of reviewing the new vinyl limited release “Pills, Marijuana, and Cocaine of Sorrow” from the Skull Crushing Devils from Hell out of Elk River, Idaho? SCDH totally kick ass – powerful sloppy bluegrass with passionate loud off-key singing. Music for the soul.

    By the way, have you ever heard of Gangstagrass?

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  • Oh. A wise guy. Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk.

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  • country + rap = crap.

    George Jones, especially in his later years, almost always accepted requests to join newer artists on their album. Whether he necessarily supported that style of music or not, he would go to the studio and lay down a line or two if someone asked him. He hated the influx of pop/rock/rap into country more than anyone and stated that on numerous occassions. In the last few years, after his voice was gone, he definitely lost a lot of his edge and stopped being so outspoken about the state of country music and pretty much joined in on anything asked. He caught some flack for the comments he made about newer country (taylor swift and carrie underwood in particular) stealing country music’s identity, and afterwards was much more careful not to be so outspoken.
    Which brings up another point…when will any of the artists speak up and voice their displeasure? Even Merle Haggard on numerous occassions has praised Hunter Hayes and stated he was the “greatest thing thats happened.” Hank Jr. is now joining in on the rap crap. And lets face it, Alan Jackson or George Strait although still traditional, probably won’t say too much because they cant risk the limited airplay they get now. Jamey Johnson, the most recent mainstream traditional artist, has a song with colt ford.

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  • “Which brings up another point…when will any of the artists speak up and voice their displeasure?”

    Why bother when radio doesn’t even play you?

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  • If you want to trace it all the way back, no thanks to Bob Wills, the Grand Ole Opry allowing drums, was the true beginning. As much as I love Bob Wills, he was a tireless self-promoter, and would record or mimic anything if it put money in his pocket. If he were alive today, he would have a fake gold grill-piece and would be trading lines with Skee-Lo.

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  • The article’s too long to read so I just looked at the pictures… kidding, kidding. Seriously though, in the photos, along with most of the names mentioned in the article, there were rap stars… and pop country stars… but little to no real country musicians (George Jones being the one real country artist mentioned that I remember, and Waylon but his involvement isn’t his fault).

    Point is, country music was already stolen, co-opted, infiltrated, crapped on – however you want to put it – by pop music. It was only a matter of time before it evolved further away from its roots.

    Used to be that one of the arguments against country by kids, when I was young, one time, long ago, was that country was just 10/15 year old rock, which was sorta true, but not the entire story. The rock n roll thing evolved from country/soul/blues and then overtook the world, gobbling up the genres it evolved from. But now rock is dead, or at least on life support, so the collaboration between the two cousins is now pretty much extinct, leaving country to entice listeners by copying/collaborating with pop music, which in turn has been influenced by hip-hop/rap. It was only a matter of time before it made its way to Music Row.

    Fortunately, for real country fans, there is real country out there. We can bitch about the situation, and rightfully so, but let’s not give into it, when we, the fans, can support the local and regional bands, along with the ‘bigger’ names that refuse to play nice with Music Row. It won’t change Nashville, or the pop country music machine, but it helps keep the purists going, trying to keep the real genre alive.

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  • “The reason there are no country-influenced songs at the top of the hip-hop chart is because the hip-hop community would not allow it.”

    DAMN. RIGHT. So why the heck is hip hop allowed in country? Sure, I support Big & Rich, but I’ve never considered their music to be country and in my opinion they’ve never attempted to justify it as pure honky tonk music. Their whole mantra is a combination of elements from different genres to have fun and for me they succeed. Everyone else, on the other hand, should whip out the freaking steel guitar and can the processed rap and pop synthesizers. Trigger, I may not always agree with your opinion, but the majority of the time you preach cold hard facts. I’m getting to where my heart can’t take it; I get too angry and sad at the same time.

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  • I think Roger from Agnostic Front says it best…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mn1WN5yeag

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  • LoCash Cowboys record is way less ‘rap’ than anyone thinks, particularly “Best Seat In The House,” a song about a deceased father looking over his son from heaven. The duo’s album is actually less ‘rocking’ than Florida Georgia Line and I think only one song (the closer “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” could even be considered ‘rap.’

    One other comment about the rap ‘infiltration’ so to speak, the songs coming or remixed are from many artists who grew up liking multiple genres of music so it’s just a natural blend of their influences. Not that I think there should be a ton of ‘rap’ on modern country airwaves (as it really hasn’t been).

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  • I remember watching CMT around the time of the Nelly/Tim McGraw duet and the Snoop Dogg country song. One of the airheads asked George Strait “Can we expect you to do a duet with Snoop Dogg or Nelly in the future”

    Strait just said “No.”

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  • While the invasion of rap is bad, pop is much worse and already took over. It’s a case of the bigger shark (pop) swallowing the smaller fish (country).

    http://musicandcopyright.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/pop-is-still-king-of-the-world%E2%80%99s-music-genres/

    Years ago Taylor Swift’s label formed a partnership with the biggest label in the world (Universal) to take her remixed and pop music global (where country is less popular and this may also be why she went so pop, to go for pop radio and huge global sales). They also formed joint label Republic Nashville. After Taylor took off, other artists and radio started going more and more pop.

    The few huge global labels controlling most of the music business think globally and don’t care about country.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_label

    http://www.musicindustrymetrics.com/music-industry-analysis/2013/04/spring-2013-record-label-share-breakdown.html

    They are out to make as much money as they can regardless of what happens to country music. Kelly Clarkson and Cassadee Pope aren’t country? No problem, we’ll fix that! Label waves magic wand. Presto! Now you’re “country” and here country radio play these pop “country” songs (instead of better country songs)! Got a pop song? Throw 10 seconds of fiddle or banjo in there and now it’s “country.” Here’s a few “country” songs going to country radio.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mCInKuTtgw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccX4rYCxwuU

    https://soundcloud.com/rollie-gaalswyk/wasting-all-these-tears

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpJz06Jzoh8

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBkJ9QFWGBw

    The big labels control country music and are turning it pop. They push pop and country rap songs past better country songs on country radio. They got Billboard to change the Hot Country chart to include pop airplay to help them turn country pop. They ruined CMA Fest by lining up pop and rock acts country fans don’t want to see.

    “Until 2001, the evening concerts were organized by record labels, with each label choosing which of their artists would be able to perform, and for how long. Beginning with Fan Fair 2001, these main concerts were grouped instead by record distribution group. This allowed for four main concerts, for Sony, WEA/EMI, UNI, and BMG.[6] Artists are held to very strict timeframes for their performances, with Martina McBride noting in 2007 that she was expected to be on stage for exactly 34 minutes, “[n]ot 30, not 35, but 34.” The artists are not paid to attend the festival or for their performances during the festival.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CMA_Music_Festival

    Rock has also heavily invaded country but at least (classic) rock is much better than pop and rap and closer to country because both are real music played with real instruments and the lyrics mean something. And classic rock is the 2nd favorite genre of many country fans. Even so maybe country has gone too rock (and certainly too pop) for many fans. Hardly ever any fiddle, steel, or banjo on the radio anymore sucks. Bill Werde said country radio is where he goes to hear guitar songs because rock and pop radio doesn’t play them anymore.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBNDV4em0nw

    So where are country fans who want to hear country on FM radio supposed to go to hear fiddle, banjo and steel songs country radio isn’t playing anymore?

    Without checking, it’s a safe bet that the artists adding or switching to pop and rap are with or somehow tied to 1 of the big 3 labels, and those labels asked or encouraged them to do it. How did Nelly get hooked up with FGL? They are on the same huge label (Universal).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GaByQ0usfE

    Every collaboration with a pop or rap artist is one less with another talented, deserving country artist.

    Labels lie and call clearly pop songs “country” to sell them to country radio and fans. Morons pushing and defending country going pop and rap argue that “country must evolve.” No kidding but country fans don’t want it to evolve into pop or rap. Try getting rap and pop to evolve into country. They incorrectly label country fans who don’t like pop or rap or don’t want it in country music and radio “traditionalists” and say we only like old timey or traditional country. Are these morons for real and believe their own BS or are they just interns in training at Big Machine?

    Labels say they’ve lost sales, true but they are still selling billions of dollars per year. Hardly struggling small businesses. Indie labels are the ones struggling just to stay in business, and the bigger labels drive many out of business because they spend so much in promotion to get singles to do well at radio. That’s a crazy system. They shouldn’t have to sell great songs to radio and labels sell many weak songs instead of better ones.

    I hope remixes continue to piss off Miranda since that’s a very good thing for country. And I hope her next album won’t have the pop I’m hearing it will. Taylor’s most pop Red album is one of the few she’s tweeted about to compliment.

    The big losers from country going pop are country artists (those making country music) and fans who love that music. There’s just 40 slots on the country radio chart and really just 10-20 getting many spins. So every pop and rap song taking up a slot = another country song and artist robbed, lost record deal and many concerts, after all it takes a lot of spins to fill seats. It must be nice for a few artists to be able to put pop songs to country radio just to keep them on there and promote their latest album, displacing country artists.

    Which is worse, pop and rap invading country or the glut of mediocre male country songs going to country radio?

    Now the question is what can we do about this mess? We signed a Billboard petition.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/billboard-stop-the-use-of-multi-format-airplay-in-determining-hit-country-r-b-rock-songs

    What next?

    I agree that artists need to stand up for country and refuse to sell out to other genres.

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    • Good thoughts.

      My theory is that country rap IS pop country disguised because pop country has become a stigma to some demographics.

      This article is a little old, but here was one of the main points:

      http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/country-rap-is-here-a-survivors-guide

      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.”

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  • Good article, I look at it like this: the recording industry as we know it came to prominence at the same time Jazz did. People outside of New Orleans and a few other places probably wouldn’t know too much about Jazz if it weren’t for this new technology to disseminate the music to a large audience around the country and the world. Jazz becomes, for all intents and purposes, the dominant musical idiom in American Pop Music (and country, folks, like rock, is part of Pop music). Listen to some old singing cowboy records or western swing. It’s country or country-ish music but it’s unmistakably jazzy. Pre-war pop music is very jazzy in both instrumentation and arrangement. Jazz was the idiom that people used in varying degrees to express musical ideas. Later on, Honky-Tonk and R&B start to bubble up at around the same time which lead to rock and roll. Rock eventually becomes the dominant musical idiom in pop music. Rock instruments and arrangements become the norm where Jazz instruments and arrangements were earlier. Country music evolves along with the rest of pop music, incorporating more of the rock elements. (Buck Owens was the genius at this, Waylon Jennings mastered it.) What we’re seeing now is another paradigm shift. Hip hop is now the dominant idiom in pop music. Pop music relies more on programming and beats than electric guitars now. Country is going to follow along like it did the other times. Do I like it? Not really. But let’s not get into that right now, here’s the kicker: All this stuff I just described, Jazz, Rock, Hip-hop? All related to America’s place in the world as a major player and later a superpower on the world stage. America could project it’s culture around the world just like it could project its economic and military might. That power is declining, and with it, the prominent voice that American culture had in the world probably will also. Hip hop may be the last American cultural phenomenon to take the world by storm. Hollywood and the record industry rely more than ever before on selling product overseas, and on acquiring talent from overseas. Like it or not, its an increasingly global market, a market that goes both ways. Country-Rap is probably the soundtrack of the end of the American empire.

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  • Here is what my thoughts are. The fact that ebonic is creeping in is a sad thing. I hate hearing people like George Strait say J-uly, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and Florida-Georgia Line doing it too. However, and I hate to say this they are much better than Taylor Swift and other pop singers. I just hate seeing country music heading down this road. and not being able to stop it.

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  • Florida George Line have said they want to collaborate with other rappers. :(

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  • damn even Canada has crap
    https://twitter.com/BrettKingswell/status/352547795795845120

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  • This is why I do not like country rap. Country rap is a bad idea. Get rid of country rap. Country rap do not belong to music. Not only that, many country singers like Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks are suppose to be country singers only. Keep country singers like Keith Urban away from mainstream music. Only a few exceptions like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift since Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift are both country pop crossover singers. Taylor Swift’s country songs are very unique since her country songs are different than other country songs as well as releasing her country music worldwide while Carrie Underwood prefers her music to stay country and released her country music worldwide. Which is why Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift can make great country and pop fusion singers. Taylor Swift not only makes country songs but also make pop songs too while Carrier Underwood prefers to her music to stay country. But rock music or gospel music works well for Carrie Underwood when she does pop music too. When Taylor Swift retires country music this fall or next year, Taylor Swift will focus on music without any country music since Scott Borchetta hates Taylor Swift’s pop music. When Taylor Swift makes pop music, Scott Borchetta forced her to remove her immediately since he only wants pop music writers to make country music big in the US not forcing Big Machine Records to make pop music since Scott Borchetta has no faith on pop music. So removing Taylor Swift from Big Machine Records is a good idea that way Taylor Swift will collaborate her country music with her pp music and remover her country music from country music stations. Ditto Carrie Underwood. Since Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift will be shifting over to pop, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift can remove their country songs from country music and put them on music stations outside of country music that way they can make their own albums without any country music whatsoever. So if country music can remove Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift along with horrible country rap music and put them on mainstream pop music, then country music should clean up this mess. It’s best to do that this fall-next year so not only people can save country music but to force Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift shifted towards pop music which is ideal for playing country music in general by either Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift on pop music stations in general like MTV. That’s my opinion.

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  • I really hate to say it but that George Jones song is okay. I’m sure part of that is the fact I’m a really fucking devoted George Jones fan and he doesn’t have a song I don’t think is good but I don’t know. Shoot.

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  • I read this article a while ago and keep coming back to it as I think about the changing face of country music. It is great! One thought I had that you might appreciate was just an observation of culture.

    I think the growing dominance of rap over country might be being pushed in part by the fact that Country is largely made by “white” people while rap is primarily made by “black” people.

    In the mainstream “white” culture it has always been popular to browbeat country music as being the “hillbilly,” “white-trash,” and poor people music. Meanwhile, the same “white” culture (at least in big cities) has been bending over backwards to “make-up” for past wrongs by lavishing praises on “black” culture and appearing accepting of “black” music in the form of Rap.

    What do you think?

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    • That’s an interesting take, though I think it has a little bit more to do with hip hop trying to lead where popular culture is going, and country always feeling it like it needs to apologize for itself. Though part of that apology by country is always having to explain that country is not a bunch of racist hayseeds, which would somewhat lend to your point. Country needs more confidence in itself. It needs leaders. Say what you want about Garth, but he lead. Today it’s just a bunch of artists at the top chasing trends, both inside and outside the genre. Nobody is being bold in country music. They think being bold is doing what was cool in hip hop 18 months ago.

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      • After reading your response and rethinking my earlier position, I have to admit, I was making the wrong connection. I think the differences between country and rap/hip-hop are too great to make a fair comparison. The better one would be between Blues and Country. Rap and Hip-Hop are more akin to Pop and Rock music.

        Think about it, Rap and Rock are both more or less the restless youth sound. Both lean toward producing high energy and experimenting with sounds. Both shuffle through the mainstream.

        Country, like Blues, just remains largely contained to dealing within its own sphere of influence. From that perspective, I’m not sure that either needs to lead popular culture, though both have impacted and can continue to impact pop-culture, but they shouldn’t be chasing the “popular” trends, either.

        I think you’re spot on in saying that country music has the problem of constantly apologizing for itself, but that is where I have to wonder which comes first: Remove the stigma so people respect country or make country respectable and hope that people get over the stigma of being a country artist.

        I think you’ve inspired me to make a much more in-depth look at what is plaguing country music externally, but I’ll need to do more research before I can say anything for sure. Thanks for the thoughts and keep up this wonderful sight!

           1 likes

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