Album Review – Adeem The Artist’s “White Trash Revelry”
There was most certainly a time in country music—and even in it’s more open-minded and less commercially-concerned cousin of Americana—where not fitting neatly within the gender binary would be a significant burden on the attention you would receive for your music. 2022 is not that time though. Conversely, when it comes to endearing yourself to the media and certain segments of the roots music community, there is nothing more enticing than shirking the norms of the cisgender, and nothing more burdening than being a white straight male.
In 2022, you can build a career in country music almost solely off of leveraging identity vectors for attention for favorable press coverage and placements on corporate streaming playlists. Two or three times a week, Saving Country Music headquarters will receive pitches for artists whose titles lead with the term “Queer,” despite the word historically being considered flagrantly euphemistic, and it being the very term that sent Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on a bloody rampage in the halls of Columbine High School.
In an era when it’s not just how appealing your art may be, but how much you can couch yourself as a victim of something or lean into identity to receive sympathetic attention from a polarized public, a set of perverse incentives are presented to emphasize these things as opposed to the art itself. The performer may appreciate, or even covet this attention, but it can also ultimately be patronizing to an artist’s work when the “what” is cast as secondary to the “who.”
But lucky for Adeem The Artist, there is an exceeding level of talent and giftedness here to pay attention to the music regardless of the extraneous noise, which is certainly present. Savvy and persuasive with words, and unlike their previous album—the valiant but under-developed Cast Iron Pansexual—the new effort called White Trash Revelry is well-produced and fleshed out, utilizing the services of skilled musicians such as guitarists Ellen Angelico and Joy Clark, banjoist Jake Blount, and former Turnpike Troubadours drummer Giovanni “Nooch” Carnuccio III, allowing the music to come alive.
It was all produced by Kyle Crownover, who is also known as the tour manager for Tyler Childers. Crownover also happens to be Adeem The Artist’s manager. All stops were pulled out to make White Trash Revelry the perfect showcase for Adeem’s songs, where the music complimented the songs and presented an excuse to listen intently even if an audience member wasn’t amenable to the ultimate aim of the album: the message.
From the 90s alt-country power anthem “Heritage of Arrogance,” the swinging country rock of “Run This Town,” the spirited fiddle of “Baptized in Well Spirits,” to the more intimate moments of the Saving Country Music Song of the Year-nominated “Middle of a Heart,” White Trash Revelry touches on a wide variety of moods and attitudes, offering a diverse and robust listening experience to satiate most sectors of the listening palate.
But this is not why some have this album on their short list as a candidate for one of the best releases in country music in 2022. It’s because the writing of Adeem The Artist showcases a propulsive, provocative, and at times, polarizing aspect that pricks all the important zeitgeist social issues that get the press and progressive audience members swooning and pumping their fists in active appreciation.
This is not all of White Trash Revelry though. “Middle of a Heart” leaves the moral of the song up for interpretation. Adeem tells the story, sketches the lines, and lets the personal lineage and upbringing of the individual audience member color them in. Adeem draws a perfect circle—or bullseye if you will—and then takes their best shot at not stopping a heart, but changing one through the work of music.
Songs like “Painkillers & Magic,” “Baptized in Well Spirits,” and “Carolina” speak candidly about an upbringing in the rural South where virtue and sin sit on separate sides of an impossibly thin line, and the messages are mixed for young souls that often have a better sense for truth and hypocrisy than the adults handing down the morals. Born in the small town of Locust, North Carolina (pop. 3,000), the stories of White Trash Revelry are very much born from Adeem’s own personal American experiences, and you feel this in the details that are expressed within those stories.
A song like “For Judas” about a same sex dalliance in the arts district of Minneapolis is where you start to delve into material that might cross a line with certain country audiences, but it’s also written in a way that simply expresses a very human experience, and may open some audiences up to perspectives different than their own. Sure, some country fans will immediately punch out on this album’s second track and never look back. But “For Judas” is also a bit more of a conventional and pragmatic tact to opening up audiences to new ideas.
Much more problematic is most of the assertions of a song like “Heritage of Arrogance,” which shirks the nuance and specificity of storytelling to wield a broad brush via an angry hand, idealistically painting platitudes that don’t instruct or inform, but indict huge swaths of stereotyped populations, from white people, to Christians, to Southern fathers in an irreconcilable manner, damning their entire heritage with the aim of utter destruction as opposed to reformation, seethingly declaring these populations as solely the domain of white supremacy and hate with no regard for the spectrum of ideas and lived experiences within these populations, riddled with language pandering to the Twitter set as opposed to making persuasive arguments.
Like Jason Isbell and others who let terse, incensed, and emotional moments blind them with rage to the point where they become the ones sharing bigoted perspectives, Adeem The Artist does their music a grave disservice by giving into these angry and judgemental moments, while at the same time attempting to cloak them in, “Oh, I’m really not trying to judge you…’ qualifiers that are transparent and too little too late.
In the song “Going To Hell,” Adeem seems to fall for another stereotype that country music is a untouched and purified bastion of conservative and religious ideals that among other things, refuses to give Black people credit for their contributions. Every single history book on country music would disagree, so would the Sources of Country Music painting hanging as the centerpiece of the Country Music Hall of Fame, as would Hank Williams Jr., who has written and recorded numerous songs in tribute to Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne, and paid for a memorial for Payne in Montgomery, Alabama, despite Hank Jr. selling Confederate flags with his own face in the center of them up to the 00s.
Those actively working to erase the Black legacy in country music today are not white supremacists, but elite intellectuals who love to use country music as a refraction point for their virtual signaling, actively engaging in wholesale Black erasure to make country music appear to be more racist and less inclusive than it ever was. In “Going To Hell,” Adeem cites The Louvin Brothers, whose song “Satan Is Real” is used as the opening salvo on Hank Williams III’s magum opus Straight To Hell, which along with many other titles, eradicates any notions that country music is solely the domain of conservative Christians fearful of Satanic imagery symbolically conjoined with Black people than needs to be integrated by performative activism.
A common refrain from Adeem The Artist is that “country music” wants people like them to disappear or to be eradicated. First, and once again, country music is not a monolith. A gay songwriter named Shane McAnally has been the most successful songwriter/producer in country music in the last 15 years. It has never been more easier or inviting for artists of color or outside the gender binary to gain acceptance. Adeem The Artist is part of that country community, and as evidenced by the acceptance of White Trash Revelry, is dispelling their own myths.
Of course country music has a troubled past with race, gender, and sex. This goes without saying. But if the greatest example of something you can cite as being belligerent against trans people in country music today is the Instagram account of some artist’s wife, that shows just how compartmentalized the concern is.
Not dissimilar to Staind frontman turned country songwriter Aaron Lewis who is similarly spectacular with words, but let’s the unmitigated anger of misunderstanding allow him to succumb to political propaganda, Adeem The Artist sullies what otherwise might be a work able to compel shifts in perspective by engaging in poorly constructed political opinion sharing. One of the reasons White Trash Revelry is being so revered is under the false notion that racist rednecks might get a hold of this album and somehow see the error of their ways. On the contrary, it will reinforce the notion that their culture is under grave assault under false pretenses, making them dig their boot heels even deeper into their stances.
With certainty, specific elements of Southern culture should be eradicated, and most of these elements have been, despite Adeem’s characterizations that rows upon rows of Confederate flags are around every corner, and white supremacists measure the sizable majority. Throwing the Southern baby out with the racist bathwater is one of the reasons the region is so riddled with dilemma. What is a man left with when you’ve robbed him of his cultural heritage? What fills that void? Fentanyl and methamphetamine, suicide, and violent extremism and retribution.
Country and Americana artists such as Bandy Clark, Brandi Carlile, Willi Carlisle, Melissa Carper, Bobby Dove, and so many more do more to normalize the presence of LGBT people in country music by simply being themselves as opposed to counter-productively trying to shock people into some form of submission.
Despite the exceptionally creative efforts here, Adeem The Artist falls so heavily for the categorically clichéd American experience of growing up in a religious setting, then being exposed to secular ideals later in life, and drastically overcorrecting one’s perspective due to an anger born off of being made to feel guilt for unpure thoughts or actions. Moving to Knoxville at one point to become a preacher theirself, Adeem most certainly has internalized this conflict in a way that shouldn’t be scoffed at, but is probably more pronounced than it is for the rest of us.
It is Adeem’s perspectives that make many of the songs of White Trash Revelry so potent, even if some of them cross over into being problematic in message. But it is also worth taking a deep breath, zooming out, ridding oneself of your own biased perspective, and regarding this work as a whole.
It’s not every song on White Trash Revelry that doesn’t practice what it preaches by passing judgement on individuals. Most of the songs simply share Adeem’s experiences as a nonbinary individual born and raised in the South, who is now married with a wife, and who wants to leave a more perfect world behind them. No different than Aaron Lewis or Jason Isbell, the balance of their contributions deserves to be ultimately concluded upon as a sum positive, even if the outcome for actually reshaping perspectives is not so favorable.
Adeeem The Artist is a uniquely brilliant with words in a way that separates them from the crowd, and when teemed up with the right music, which it is in White Trash Revelry, undoubtedly results in an experience that is fiercely compelling and resonant. Unfortunately though, that action is only effective on one side of the culture divide, which is so commonly the underlying failing of activism set to music.
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Purchase from Adeem The Artist
Purchase From Amazon
December 13, 2022 @ 11:31 am
This should be fun.
December 13, 2022 @ 11:36 am
I’m very libertarian but I’m not fully sure what “may open some audiences up to perspectives different than their own” means to me. No country album will change how I feel when I get a whiff of some unwashed a$$hole in the gym in of my home city, or Minneapolis. And I 100% guarantee this person would feel significnalty more revulsion towards me for being “Right wing” than I do to….him/zir/her/they/??
December 14, 2022 @ 5:21 pm
This comment pretty much proves your close mindedness.
December 15, 2022 @ 11:29 am
I’m much less likely to join a protest or riot and commit crimes because someone else disagrees with my beliefs. Should I email your L or send it in the mail?
December 13, 2022 @ 11:37 am
Country music duo of the year!
December 14, 2022 @ 7:14 am
I can’t believe I missed this comment. Simply hysterical.
Commie Watch (serving Honky and CountryKnight since 2022)
December 13, 2022 @ 11:41 am
12.13.2022 12:34 PM CST
Once again the powers that be have brought out another poster boy for the destruction of western civilization. It’s well known that the CCP is genetically engineering non-binary humanoids and implanting them in American women when they visit their gynecologist. These hermaphroditic flesh bombs are destroying the landscape of decency in this beautiful country. Their genes are spliced with genes from those gay frogs Alex Jones is always on about, and they’re trained from birth to seek out conservative spaces in order to destroy any semblance of decency, thereby annihilating the very fabric of our great nation. This GMO should not be allowed to touch a guitar until he puts down the purse. Stay Strong And Fuck The Pinkos!
December 13, 2022 @ 11:49 am
obliviously you went to a public school…
One of those gay frogs.
December 13, 2022 @ 12:05 pm
obviously you don’t understand satire…
December 13, 2022 @ 3:42 pm
Obviously you have never read their posts before, but please tell me more about satire. “Hermaphroditic flesh bombs” , subtle satire like that is hard to get sometimes.
As for the Album its a good Americana album. Telling a story about one persons experience in life. That’s what music has always been and not everybody has to agree or listen.
With nearly 8 billion people on this poor planet the chances of everybody agreeing are pretty slim.
Jerry Clower's Ghost (sorry for all the gay frogs)
December 13, 2022 @ 4:05 pm
I pulled that one out of my ass. How can you read that and not understand that it’s satirical? Do you really think it’s subtle to use a term like “hermaphroditic flesh bombs”?
Jerry Clower's Ghost (aka CountryKnight's Squire)
December 13, 2022 @ 4:29 pm
“Obviously you have never read their posts before,”
If you’re referring to Honky and CountryKnight, then you are absolutely wrong. This is going way over your head, my friend. I’m an SCM zealot, and I see every comment that they and other commenters like them post, and some of the stuff they say is absolutely ridiculous. But if you think they actually believe in “hermaphroditic flesh bombs”, then you probably just need to chill out a little bit. I’m a boring person who has nothing better to do than give a couple old school jackasses a gentle ribbing.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
December 13, 2022 @ 4:37 pm
And it amuses me that CountryKnight enjoys the “clout”.
December 13, 2022 @ 6:58 pm
Well I will let you sift through the posts where Honky responds by asking if the poster went to public school. Apparently its a insult from whatever era he is from. One were communists are around every corner. If you are truly interested finding those comments i would start with all the articles that have been closed. But since you have seen them all you know where to find them.
And if you believe I was asking for you to explain your “subtle” satire you must hang out with equally boring people.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
December 13, 2022 @ 7:23 pm
Alright dude. Have a good night.
December 13, 2022 @ 11:43 am
Still makes zero sense to call a single person “they” or “them.” But whatever, man. I mean person.
December 13, 2022 @ 11:48 am
Adeeem The Artist is plural, somehow
December 13, 2022 @ 11:54 am
The logic would indicate that “they” should call themself Adeem the Artists. But logic in 2022 has run thin.
December 13, 2022 @ 12:21 pm
It’s 2022, and I have SOOO much to offer that I must force all of you to indulge me in my sex life and sexual identity.
Yet another gay frog.
December 13, 2022 @ 12:46 pm
I’m not an expert on the non-binary stuff, but I’m pretty sure there’s no sex involved when you respect and tolerate another’s journey thru life. You also have the mature option to ignore it.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:08 pm
It’s hard to ignore when it’s crossed over into compelled speech. If you “misgender” someone or fail to acknowledge their identity as valid, it is a hate crime.
I don’t know how anyone can be an expert in something that has no hard parameters or definitions. But I digress, there are Pokemon experts most likely
Yet another gay frog.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:18 pm
You’re saying “hate crime”, but I’m not aware of people being prosecuted for misgendering. Correct me if I’m wrong. And I would totally agree with you that that would not be good for society, if people are actually being prosecuted. Again, if you have examples of that, please let me know.
Yet another gay frog.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:20 pm
Could it be that you’re just annoyed by the whole thing? I can empathize with that.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:25 pm
There are multiple articles online about it being a hate crime in the UK. It’s coming here shortly.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:30 pm
It’s to bad this has to degrade in to this kind of nonsense but this is hilarious. The whole industry is dominated by bros talking about their sex life and sexual identity. I know, I know it doesn’t count when they talking about hot chicks in a truck and all the poser strutting. LMAO
Trigger if you don’t want a fight in your comments section you should clean this up.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:31 pm
The thing is I do not honestly care if someone is making a good faith attempt at being the one gender they identify as. That is not anything new historically speaking of someone in a biological body of one sex having their mental wiring of another sex. And I can honor someone’s way of labeling themself in the more traditional sense.
What IS annoying to me is these hipster bisexuals jumping on the latest trend to grandstand and call everyone bigots. Right after gay marriage was legalized and the national culture shifted and the majority of people stopped caring if people were gay, the pronouns thing reared it’s head. The whole /xir/they/them/au/and whatever variations beyond him/her make no sense.
Yet another gay frog.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:43 pm
“And I can honor someone’s way of labeling themself in the more traditional sense.”
What do you mean by this?
“What IS annoying to me is these hipster bisexuals jumping on the latest trend to grandstand and call everyone bigots.”
It’s still sticks and stone tho, man. I understand no one wants to be called a bigot, but most of those grandstanders are just not intelligent. Ignore it and do you.
December 13, 2022 @ 2:13 pm
It sure quickly went from “we just want marriage” to “arrest everyone who doesn’t agree with my 50 pronouns.”
If you give a mouse a cookie…
December 13, 2022 @ 3:41 pm
“If you give a mouse a cookie…”
countryknight sure is one stupid hateful bastard.
December 13, 2022 @ 8:26 pm
I see my intellectual inferior has restored to personal attacks in lieu of any credible rebuttal.
My usage of a beloved children’s book (which perfectly describes human nature) is apt. The movement has gone from wanting every other group had (an understandable stance) to demanding everyone agree and every organization acknowledge. And since society carves on every turn, the demands have gotten bigger and bigger.
“Agree with me or you are a bigot” is definitely openminded. /s
December 14, 2022 @ 3:21 am
Nope, that is not logical from a linguistic standpoint. They and them, as well as all associated versions have been used as singular pronouns since at least the 14th century, but done so regularly since Shakespeare’s time. You can read a nicely written and insightful overview about it here: https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/people-have-used-they-them-as-singular-pronouns-for-hundreds-of-years
December 14, 2022 @ 8:22 am
Interesting article. Were people accused of being racist bigoted homophobic terrorists and forced out of their jobs hundreds of years ago for not referring to someone as “they” or “them?” The people who go out of their way to make sure others refer to them with such words just seems a little bit batshit crazy.
December 14, 2022 @ 9:59 am
ryanpd – let’s be clear that people are not being forced out of their jobs for not calling someone by their preferred pronouns specifically (if this is even happening at all). for argument, let’s say it is – they are definitely being fired for ignoring a request of a coworker to treat them the way they would like to be treated, thus creating a hostile workplace by abstaining from doing the bare minimum (human decency), and are being removed for this reason.
i’m sure you would be fine if everyone called you ma’am? this would be an ideal work environment for you?
December 14, 2022 @ 10:46 pm
I can even quote you a classic country lyric in which Faron Young (or Mel Tillis, not sure who did the song first) uses the singular they to address their woman and her no-good ways.
“Guess you think that I’m a fool but you’re the one that’s blew their cool” .
of all the things to be upset about, getting suddenly uppity about the grammar violation of they pronouns is the dumbest. We’ve all called a single person ‘they’ at some point or another. Back when everyone referred to humankind as ‘man’ no one was confused that they only meant males. Language is kind of like that.
December 14, 2022 @ 5:25 am
December 14, 2022 @ 2:33 pm
RyanPD…. As a practical mater, using “they/them” reads weird when you see it used in a sentence…. There’s a NYT piece about Adeem and this is the headline….
“Adeem Bingham has wrestled for decades with their identity as a Southern, Christian, queer songwriter. Can modern country music make space for them and their experiences?”
(huh….? their identity? them who…???)
Then we have this sentence….
“Adeem and Hannah decamped to an Episcopal mission in New Jersey, where queer folks, trans friends and people of color prompted Adeem to face the ingrained racism, sexism and shame of their childhood.”
(Who’s childhood are we talking about….Adeem’s or his friends…????)
If you don’t want to use “he/him/she/her….ect. Why not use the word “it” ?
“It” is a non-gendered word….makes more sense that using “they/them” when referring to a single person…
AND….in a story song, does Adeem use “they/them” to describe the characters ?
“By the time I get to Phoenix…..they’ll be rising….” ?????
December 14, 2022 @ 4:37 pm
Well goddammit, I think you’ve made some sense where there was none.
December 14, 2022 @ 5:27 pm
Non-binary doesn’t not necessarily mean you have no gender. It means you don’t identify exclusively as a man or woman.
December 15, 2022 @ 5:59 am
“Non-binary” is made up mumbo jumbo.
December 29, 2022 @ 10:01 pm
Since all words are made up, you are correct.
December 13, 2022 @ 11:47 am
Have to be honest, I have a hard time getting past the cover. Just screams hispter bullshit.
December 16, 2022 @ 10:25 pm
Middle of the heart is very good.
December 13, 2022 @ 11:53 am
Sounds like another “tolerant” and “enlightened” Southern who hates his own heritage preaching to us.
An acolyte of CountryKnight. I'm a poet and didn't even know it.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:05 pm
Lead us out of the fray, sire! We shall smite these pinkos with our long girthy blades. We will penetrate them until they stop begging for it!
December 13, 2022 @ 2:11 pm
December 13, 2022 @ 2:36 pm
Hahaha. Got it, sire!
December 13, 2022 @ 8:26 pm
Don’t forget to water the horses!
December 13, 2022 @ 12:02 pm
It’s often funny how trigger tries to downplay that the fandom and culture of country “isn’t that toxic anymore” and these types of idiotic comments prove him wrong every time
December 13, 2022 @ 12:13 pm
What comments have been idiotic?
Disagreeing with his takes is not toxic.
December 13, 2022 @ 12:18 pm
I never said the culture of country, “isn’t that toxic anymore,” despite you putting it in quotes.
What I did say is,
“One of the reasons White Trash Revelry is being so revered is under the false notion that racist rednecks might get a hold of this album and somehow see the error of their ways. On the contrary, it will reinforce the notion that their culture is under grave assault under false pretenses, making them dig their boot heels even deeper into their stances.”
That is some of what you’re seeing in the comments. When you lean into performative, provocative rhetoric and actions, you’re going to elicit a counter-reaction that is going to be counter-productive to what you’re looking to accomplish. Things like this attract and embolden individuals on the other side of the cultural divide. The comments you speak of don’t undermine my hypothesis, they verify it.
December 13, 2022 @ 12:59 pm
Did you ever consider calling another musician’s personal experience and perspective “performative, provocative rhetoric” is actually divisive language? Especially when it’s art from a person who actually knows what it’s like to be marginalized and hated because of their identity – in the same ignorant way shown in the majority of these comments?
December 13, 2022 @ 1:25 pm
I never called Adeem’s personal experience and perspective “performative, provocative.” I said he was engaging in “performative, provocative rhetoric” in some of the songs in this album. Words (rhetoric) and experiences are two completely separate things. You took one phrase and interjected it into another to render an opinion I did not share.
On the contrary, I went out of my way to not only explain Adeem’s personal experiences, but to validate them and how they relate to this music, saying, “It is Adeem’s perspectives that make many of the songs of White Trash Revelry so potent…” and said they also “shouldn’t be scoffed at.”
Look, writing a review for an album like this is a lose/lose situation for me. The folks on the one side of the culture war will wonder why I’m even talking about it, let alone giving it a positive review, while the other side will only focus on the constructive criticism I offer, and not take it to heart, but attempt to twist the meaning and engage in opportunistic pull quotes to make my opinions appear to be something they are not.
My take on this album is very simple: I think Adeem The Artist is an excellent songwriter with an engaging and well-produced album that like so often happens with activist music, gives into anger and judgement in a way that impinges its ability to do anything more than pander to an established constituency. I share that second opinion with respect and constructively, and if folks want to blow it off as the ramblings of a transphobe, so be it.
The last gay frog.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:59 pm
Rational people understand this.
December 13, 2022 @ 5:08 pm
Hi Trigger! Welcome the suggestions of yours and other regular commenters:
>>>”I think Adeem The Artist is an excellent songwriter with an engaging >>>and well-produced album that like so often happens with activist >>>music, gives into anger and judgement in a way that impinges
>>> its ability to do anything more than pander to an established >>>constituency.”
Welcome all suggestions: What songwriters do you feel inch -close- to that line but don’t cross over to self-righteous propaganda? It’s one of the most challenging questions, maybe, in creating any lasting art?
December 13, 2022 @ 6:36 pm
I mentioned American Aquarium and early Drive-By Truckers in another comment, and that’s a good place to start. American Aquarium’s “A Better South” is a perfect example of what I’m talking about, or what many consider Drive-By’s magnum opus, “Southern Rock Opera” which is a concept album basically about this very thing. There are many more.
Again, I think it’s important that I don’t allow this review to be characterized as an attack on Adeem The Artist. I think it is very fair, and raises salient, constructive criticisms that if some disagree with, I completely understand, and I encourage them to leave their opinions here.
John R Baker
December 13, 2022 @ 1:22 pm
Said rednecks take everything as a rationale to dig their boots heels in or ,let’s be honest, go on the attack again. It’s just what they do. We see it in this forum enough.
Part of what’s nice about somebody like Adeem is that he’s a counterpoint hitting back where they live because he lives there as well. And sometimes you do have to fight it out with sharply differing perspectives. It’s not like country hasn’t had more than it’s share of faux patriots blowhards ranting about everything they don’t like in song.
This thing where you get the vapors and pretend that opinionated performers somehow cause the problems they are writing about is just silly.
Lil DL’s righteous truth
December 13, 2022 @ 1:34 pm
You’d be amazed at how many of the rednecks that terrify suburban households and media officials would shut up if they’d just be left the fuck alone.
John R Baker
December 13, 2022 @ 1:47 pm
lol, I am not and never have been “suburban” or “media” and that is not how it is and never has been. Unless by “left alone” you mean make the wrong people STFU and clear out of town.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:41 pm
On the contrary, what emboldens reactionaries to crawl out of the woodwork is your constant futile attempts to keep everything “apolitical” and responding to naked hatred and bigotry with handwringing and pleading to everyone to “just stop talking politics please and thank you” as if taking a stand of any kind is a crime of equal proportion. Do you not realize by now that that approach does not work on these types of disingenuous people? Trying to force “tolerance” towards folks who have none just lets the worst kinds of people free to dictate the environment. And no, unlike you I have no problem calling bigots what they are. Anyway, don’t know if you noticed by reading Adeem’s lyrics and the accompanying essay he wrote for this album, but this “heritage” you fault them for calling out is their own and they have every right to hold the environment of their upbringing accountable without it being assumed to be “pandering” for critical approval.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:54 pm
This exactly. while there is part of the review I agree with right from the start there was the implication that this album was written as an attempt to somehow capitalize on gender, racism, etc. rather than an honest telling of someones experience. And if part of it is written in anger or in an incendiary fashion why is that not valid? Anger exists just as every other emotion and expressing it is important. I personally do not find it to be an overwhelming sentiment on the record. Just a part of the whole experience.
December 13, 2022 @ 2:05 pm
” Anger exists just as every other emotion and expressing it is important. I personally do not find it to be an overwhelming sentiment on the record. Just a part of the whole experience.”
I don’t think it’s a overwhelming sentiment either, and this was something I made sure to underscore again and again in this review, and why it ultimately received a positive score. I understand that it’s natural to gravitate to the negative feedback in a review, because that’s what gets people stirred, and it’s basically non-existent these days in music criticism. It’s also natural to try and pick that negative feedback apart. But overall I think this is a quality album, and it’s really only a few songs where in my opinion, Adeem crosses a line and lets his emotions get the better of him in a way that impinges on his goal of broadening perspectives.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:58 pm
First off, I am not trying to keep everything apolitical here. This is a political album that broaches political subjects, and so it’s completely relevant to the conversation. This is different than when I review a non-political album, and folks veer into strident political subjects that have nothing to do with the topic at hand.
“Trying to force “tolerance” towards folks who have none just lets the worst kinds of people free to dictate the environment. And no, unlike you I have no problem calling bigots what they are.”
I’m not trying to force anything on anybody, I’m just sharing my opinions. I don’t like bigotry in any form, and when I see it, I call it out, and I take no issue with others who do the same. The issue is that when you make words like “white,” “Christian,” “Southern,” and “country music,” and you make them synonymous with bigotry without any nuance, that is bigotry in itself. All I’m trying to say is that perhaps that’s an ineffective way in engaging with people who think different from you, opening their mind to different thoughts or perspectives, and either finding common ground or coaxing them to your side. Music has a unique ability to do that through storytelling and the universal language of melody. But when you start by indicting people based off of identity factors, your message will fail to reach their ears. Then you’re just venting anger.
Adeem The Artist gets it right on this album most of the time. But then he gives into that anger and judgement. If it was punk music and point was to spew venom, that would be one thing. But since Adeem’s efforts here are ones of persuasion, I have to asses and ask how effective I think it will be.
December 13, 2022 @ 2:52 pm
Fair enough. I certainly did not want to cherry pick parts of your review to make a point and I do believe overall you tried to be fair. As you can certainly tell though from many of the comments plenty of people picked up on a thread of Adeem being some hipster appealing to the a hostile Twitter crowd to sell records. I think what they are is a musician who grew up in the south different then almost everyone around them including relatives, friends, etc and are still processing feelings in ways which someone can come across pretty negatively. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion. As you said that certainly is not the was to persuade people effectively. I don’t think those couple of songs are trying to do that. The fact the rest of the album seems to be trying to can feel a little disjointed and if I have a criticism of the album that would be it. Fair me the sheer quality of the songwriting though it’s tremendous.
December 13, 2022 @ 4:15 pm
The problem is that you gratuitously misunderstand the work and run it through your own lens instead. You have this same gripe everytime you think an artists has a real opinion and you frequently get it wrong when you do.
December 13, 2022 @ 12:18 pm
Middle of a heart is incredible. Books and Records is incredible. Baptized in well spirits is a banger. Carolina, For Judas, and Painkillers and Magic are really good. A few of the songs (like redneck unread hicks and heritage of arrogance) are more of a laundry list of political views that don’t really seem to have much nuance or appeal to those of different persuasions, so that’s kind of lame. But they all sound pretty good. Also trigger how are we not gonna talk about the closing track My America? It’s maybe the only song on the record where it seems adeem is empathizing with opposing views. Would have loved to hear your thoughts
This record was incredibly written, country as hell, and should have something for everyone. It rips. But what the hell do I know!!! I’m just here so I don’t get fined!!
Another album I think rips is jeremy pinnell’s last album “Goodbye LA”, which is also country as H-E double hockey sticks
December 13, 2022 @ 1:58 pm
This album does not hold a candle to the rip-age that is Goodbye L.A.
Definitely in need of what is by now a classic masterpiece review. Jeremy Pinnell is 10/10 and 2 guns up.
Jer in Idaho
December 13, 2022 @ 7:59 pm
I was also reading this article looking for where My America was mentioned. And it isn’t. I was also surprised not to see it discussed. It’s not surprising it’s not mentioned in the comments, though. The song is too complex to use as a cudgel against the other side. It’s the most important track of the album, showing the other side of “Heritage of Arrogance”.
December 13, 2022 @ 8:11 pm
This review already stretched to 24 paragraphs, and if I had broached “My America,” it might be 24 more. But I agree that in many ways it is the counterbalance to “Heritage of Arrogance,” and like I gave Adeem credit for in the review, it works much more in subtlety and story.
December 14, 2022 @ 1:49 am
I’m a pretty conservative guy and I’m with you Jim, includingg on yourr top 3 songs.
Another one of those gay frogs.
December 13, 2022 @ 12:44 pm
Fear of rejection is powerful. Perhaps it would help you to know that The Liberal is most likely afraid of the same thing.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:05 pm
Obviously my comments can ONLY be construed as Qanon aligned. Any not willing to fellate their nearest hipster must listen to Alex Jones (sarcasm)
Another one of those gay frogs.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:27 pm
Apologies. I was being hyperbolic, and I didn’t think Trig would post that. I assume he did, because I wasn’t communicating by email, and that’s the only way he could relay the message. However, I do think the Left views comments like that as Qanon-affiliated, and that’s all I meant by that.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:12 pm
Couldn’t care less what Adeem’s pronouns are. An incredible album and I absolutely hope that it finds a wider audience.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:17 pm
It’s THEY, not IT.
D Ray White
December 14, 2022 @ 7:18 am
I thing they were speaking about the album finding a wider audience compadre. To quote the modern day philosopher Shoresy, Americans need to…“give your balls a tug.” Americans in general are turning into overly sensitive, reactionary, intellectual weaklings with limited capacity for empathy and tolerance. Just because someone has different word views and opinions than you doesn’t make them the enemy.
December 14, 2022 @ 8:11 am
It was a joke, big man. Quit taking everything so seriously.
December 13, 2022 @ 1:16 pm
The comparison of Aaron Lewis and Jason Isbell is just perfect. I’ve been mostly quiet lately but have been checking out most of what you review. I have zero intention of giving something a shot that is “pandering to the Twitter set,“ or can be compared to those two. 🤢
December 13, 2022 @ 1:21 pm
It’s hard to take artists seriously anymore when they put out this shit.
Are they really like this?
Are they just pandering?
Do they not realize they are what they’re preaching against?
December 13, 2022 @ 2:19 pm
Trig I commend you for reviewing this album knowing it would draw a divide in the comments section.
I believe your review on the album itself was spot on. The music is excellent. Definite hints of Justin Townes Earle in there. The lyrical subject, on the other hand, is tired and boring. I mean, didn’t Isbell run this shit into the ground? I just get tired of the same old same old with these left wing Americana artists or whatever they call themselves.
December 13, 2022 @ 4:25 pm
Tired and boring? I would be curious to hear some albums you feel like are fresh and interesting lyrically? Always willing to listen.
December 13, 2022 @ 2:22 pm
All the twitter hype on this album kind of made me not want to hear it. Reminded me of the over the top hype for Mickey Guyton’s album lol.
December 13, 2022 @ 2:32 pm
I get that Heritage of Arrogance is perhaps too topical to be a great song, but I have a hard time hearing what you describe is a this extreme succumbing to anger/hatred. Is it bad to be angry about the KKK, or frustrated about being presented (what he sees as) a false parity between racism and civil rights activism?
December 13, 2022 @ 4:28 pm
I wouldn’t say that “Heritage of Arrogance” is an example of an extreme succumbing to hatred as much as an extreme stereotyping born from a place of anger and resentment. I think about some of the great songs from early Drive By Truckers or American Aquarium which do a great job explaining the complexity of the Southern experience, how you can be proud of where you’re from, but not proud of some of the history. The way Adeem indicts large segments of people of being from a “heritage of arrogance” and basically characterizing things like the KKK as being rampant isn’t just incorrect, it’s unhelpful to the case he’s trying to make.
I also think of a song like “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” by the Dead Kennedys. It’s a song that’s hard to argue with because Jello Biafra isn’t say all punks are Nazi’s. He’s calling out the bad elements within the punk culture. Here, it feels like everything south of the Mason Dixon is under irreconcilable indictment, which is not going to make those people receptive to your message. It’s going to piss them off, and make them feel like their part of a negative stereotype.
December 13, 2022 @ 4:46 pm
Seems like an overreaction. It’s maybe different than songs by the Truckers or others, but it’s his own upbringing/heritage he’s indicting, not a stereotype. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to be angry about being raised as a racist.
December 13, 2022 @ 5:04 pm
You really got “Heritage of Arrogance” wrong. Honestly dude you are so far off you are embarrassing yourself if you don’t make a correction. I didn’t even realize just how far off until you said Jello Biarfra and the Truckers had more nuance.
Really I wondered why you piss people off so much and often defended you but kind of seeing now.
December 13, 2022 @ 5:27 pm
You’ve left two comments under two separate names basically saying, “You’re wrong,” but leaving no further explanation. I am more than willing to entertain perspectives different than my own. But “you’re wrong” isn’t helpful to that.
Yes, I piss people off all the time because I refuse to fit in the political binary. You want to know why all news and opinion comes from either the right or the left? It’s because if you try to break through that, you get hung out in no man’s land and both sides attack you. What interesting to me though is people from the right came here, left their meaningless quips about pronouns, and called it good. It’s people on the left who are so incensed, they’re hoping this 7.5/10 review for Adeem The Artist gets stricken from the internet, or at least, a correct or retraction is issued, while folks on Twitter are telling me to “get fucked” and this review is nothing but a naked attack on Adeem for being “queer.”
December 13, 2022 @ 6:56 pm
Sorry about the two names, different computer use different name field autofill defaults. I’m talking about this specific song, you really need to reread the lyrics. It sounds like you are reacting and inserting things that are not there.
Whether you agree with the perspective or not he’s not disparaging people en masse. It’s intended to be in character and is somewhat vague on exactly what’s wrong today. But the Rodney King beating and Trayvon Martin shooting followed by the excuses his parents still make seem to be the point. With the 1991 reference the narrator must be 40 or so. So I don’t get where you pull the thing about the KKK running rampat from when the narrator talks about seeing them once as a child. The main point about it was how his dad drew a false equivalence between them and the people fighting them. But the song is mostly about the hangover of denial from the past and the need to clear that and move on. He’s specifically sympathetic to older generations who didn’t have the opportunity to learn that he feels he did.
I’m not a manic fanboy and honestly though I like the record and it has moments of brilliance I thought some of it was musically weaker than you did. But, I think you are misrepresenting the meaning of the work and not judging it on it’s artistic terms but how you think other people may react to it. No, they have to own their own shit.
Redneck, Unread Hick
December 15, 2022 @ 2:46 pm
I dont liked this album cause it makes me brain feel funny. Theyre words and things in their that I don’t understand. So i hated it. How can a man with a pecker be a woman. I shooldnt have to accept blackz and gayz. I liked songz about dirt roads and pretty womans. This albums is for baby eaterz and pedofilz. And lizard persons. Don’t tread on me snowflake. Gayz shouldn’t have cake at theirs weddings. If Iz don’t like it or understand its with my human brian it must be prograsive brian washing. Woke shit. Adeam needs Jesus in his life. Lets Go Brandon! Trump 20225! Blue Lives Matter!! Choochoo trump train. I do like that Kanye fella!
Hank Henry V
December 15, 2022 @ 5:31 pm
I’m sorry man, but you’re eventually going to have to pick a side. You seem like a genuinely good, thoughtful person and I have long appreciated what you do… but the left ain’t gonna leave you alone. They will eventually railroad you out of existence for not agreeing with all their ideas 100%. I believe you already know this.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
December 16, 2022 @ 7:06 am
@Hank Henry V. I have to strongly disagree that anyone has to conform to anything, and I would not be surprised if Trig’s stances actually attract more traffic to his site (which I assume is a priortity), as the vitriol comes from both sides. One of the main reasons this site is successful, in my opinion, is that it hasn’t chosen a side. I hope it stays that way, because it means the operation is run more honestly all around. In this day and age, that’s a rare quality.
December 20, 2022 @ 11:37 am
I like what you said about refusing to fit into the political binary! I’m the same way in my life. People are always trying to figure out what side I’m on, and to be honest, I think the liberals have a harder time not accepting that someone doesn’t want to fit into a box. For people who claim to be pro diversity, I sometimes feel like liberals are the least accepting of other people’s perspectives.
And I’m saying this as someone who grew up in San Francisco and has been exposed to a wide variety of cultural ways of life and think that’s the way it should be! I love my queer friends and have no problem with any of that. The gender thing is something that’s tricky because of biological intuition. I’m all for addressing someone how they want to be addressed, but sometimes I think if you’re a woman, how come I know you’re a man?
Don’t tell anyone I said that!
December 15, 2022 @ 11:34 am
No me jodas con esta mierda hombre.
I’ve lived in numerous red states. How many times have I heard the N-word, hard R, spoken by a white person who wasn’t singing along to rap lyrics. Una vez.
How many times have I heard it from Mexican-Americans y paisas.. no tengo manos suficientes para contar.
El KKK casi no existe.
Cual es la población negra del RGV? Cual es la población centroamericana? Dime, cabrón. Todos los migrantes ir pa Carolina del Sur o Alabama o Georgia porque el racismo de los blancos no es tan fuerte.
Las pandillas de Boyle heights han usado bombas del fuego contra familias afroamericanas. Investiga eso.
Limpia tu propia casa antes de venir aquí y hablar basura.
December 15, 2022 @ 12:12 pm
How many cultural/racial slurs have you uttered while traveling through the red or blue states, or the United States of America?
Just curious, mi amigo
December 15, 2022 @ 12:55 pm
Cero. Tengo una lengua sucia pero no uso esas palabras.
Yo se que sabes lo que estoy hablando, mi güera.
December 15, 2022 @ 1:54 pm
: D Estas mintiendo
Gabacho Mario Moreno
December 15, 2022 @ 4:41 pm
No estoy mintiendo y no estoy usando google translate.. it’s too much for a liberal white lady to handle though, I grant that.
December 15, 2022 @ 5:34 pm
Gabacho Beto O’Rourke
December 15, 2022 @ 8:02 pm
Sí, a veces estoy chistoso..
December 13, 2022 @ 2:36 pm
While everybody is fussing & discussing, i am hoping that Trigger will let me drop this Beautiful song, sung by Mr. Dickey Lee, and recorded, i believe, last week.
Would be nice for people to hear it while Dickey is still with us.
Peace & Love to Everyone
Burrito Sabanero (versión Gabacho)
December 16, 2022 @ 11:59 am
A pesar de todo que te dije arriba, gracias por la hermosa canción. Dios te bendiga y Merry Christmas.
December 13, 2022 @ 4:47 pm
December 13, 2022 @ 5:08 pm
This is a great album, will definitely be buying this one, another great album from 2022, I like all the songs and will be listening to this one alot, been finding alot of great music here for 2022, and I hope 2023 will be just as good.
King Honky Of Crackershire (Merry Christmas!)
December 13, 2022 @ 6:29 pm
The fear so many people have, of being called a bigot, is astoundingly strange, considering the alternative to being a bigot is being a corpse.
Make no mistake though, the communist knows bigotry is beautiful, and wears his bigotry on his sleeve. And while you silly conservatives call him a hypocrite, and cry about pronouns, the communist laughs and marches forward toward his goal, because he knows the one thing you won’t do, is defend your own worldview, because he’s got you scared to death of being called what he knows we all are: a bigot.
Of course Adeem is judging me, and I’m judging him. I guess we’ll see who wins.
King Honky Of Crackershire (Merry Christmas!)
December 13, 2022 @ 7:12 pm
If you’re going to edit my comments, I’d just as soon you not even post them.
December 13, 2022 @ 8:04 pm
And for those of you who scream about freedom of speech, then why are you whining and crying about this? I guess freedom of speech is only OK when is represents your point of view? Doesn’t work that way sweethearts.
December 13, 2022 @ 7:40 pm
I honestly think we should call Guinness book of world records or the national science Institute, honkey cracker head is the only person I know that has an anus for a mouth, he has so much flatulence and crap coming out of his mouth. That it has to be an anus. Wow, I don’t care about the messages in this album the music is just great, I don’t like Travis tritts politics, and I think cigarettes should be banned, but I like his song smoke in a bar, it sounds like old Travis Tritt. I think all assault weapons should be banned, and I am totally against abuse toward women, but I love Johnny cash’s Deala’s gone, one of my favorite songs of his. I am an agnostic but I have over 10 gospel albums of the oak ridge boys and the blind boys of Alabama, to me. They are just songs, nothing more, nothing less, I can like great music and not agree with the messages, unlike some stupid people who think normal people are Communists or Marxists or what ever word of the month these people like to use and have no idea what it means. It’s just music people. No need to get so bent out of Shape over it.
Like when kid rock did his propaganda pro Trump American song, notice hockey face and you other conservatives did not get upset over that song did you? I personally did not care, let him put down Biden, and Pelosi, and Hillary all he wants, his music, I choose not to listen to it, because I think kid rock is a terrible singer, Travis tritt and John Mellencamp sang what say you, about the right and the left getting along. So I don’t blow a gasket, when a political song or song that I don’t agree with, it is just music, as long as the song and music is good, I can listen to it.
December 13, 2022 @ 8:19 pm
pretty close there bub. bigot = brain dead. damn, you’re bad at math too?! never saw that coming!
December 13, 2022 @ 8:30 pm
One history professor that I regularly discussed topics with has a beautiful quote: “Everyone is intolerant of something. Even the professed most tolerant.”
A wise man. A rarity in modern academia.
December 14, 2022 @ 7:16 am
“why aren’t you tolerant of my garbage hateful opinions – checkmate libs”
December 14, 2022 @ 10:24 am
Disagreement is not hate.
But, of course, once people are used to special treatment, anything less than that is considered oppression.
The only hate coming from this situation is the album itself. And yourself.
December 14, 2022 @ 8:12 am
An even wiser man said ‘There are only two things in the world I can’t stand: people who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch’.
Btw, your professor’s quote really doesn’t sound that impressive. You didn’t understand that before he said it?
December 14, 2022 @ 10:26 am
Austin Powers quote. Nice.
Of course, I did. I shared it with the group because it is a truth that is often forgotten in our crazy current world.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
December 14, 2022 @ 10:36 am
I wanna know if Honky’s original comment was as sloppy as this edited one. Jesus Christ Honk, you sound like you just got done auto-asphyxiating. Take a break some time dude. You’re gonna wear yourself out.
King Honky Of Crackershire
December 14, 2022 @ 4:35 pm
Please clarify. I haven’t left a serious comment here in over a month.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
December 15, 2022 @ 8:05 am
Which part do I need to clarify for you?
King Honky Of Crackershire
December 15, 2022 @ 4:24 pm
You said my comment was sloppy and that I was engaging in a sex act just prior to typing it.
I was just hoping you could elaborate on all that.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
December 16, 2022 @ 6:11 am
Lol, nah. I don’t think anyone wants me to detail that image for them. How ’bout we save it for the next hot take?
December 14, 2022 @ 5:55 pm
I usually imagine you as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper from the movie “Dr. Strangelove”, ranting about fluorine and bodily fluids, but I’m not sure even he would have a portrait of Franco as an avatar.
King Honky Of Crackershire
December 14, 2022 @ 7:01 pm
How often do you imagine me?
December 13, 2022 @ 7:05 pm
Look, all I’m gonna say, is there any song, or poem, or work out, but wants to talk about a difficult subject, and paint the other side is inherently wrong is problematic.
Real helpful, bridge crossing, divide, spanning art takes a controversial subject, and simply says, this ‘is one way of looking at it.’
It sounds like some of the songs are taking the stance that the songwriter opinion is by default a healthier opinion than anything contrary.
And from my perspective, giving in and lashing out, just makes you the monster the other side already thinks you are
I’m gonna go out on a limb here, then say that what made the great protest songwriters of what I affectionately, call the winery, protest, song era, so popular, and I say this as someone who has done an awful lot of covers of the whiny protest songs, I love so much,
What made those great protest songs, so great, is, they didn’t point fingers or condemn anyone they simply asked a question without providing an answer, and usually it was the oppressors who heard that song, and when they realize there was no answer in the song itself, they had to turn to themselves and find an answer inside them
There’s a reason that the question is how many years must one man have before he can hear people cry?
And the answer is, unsatisfyingly, somewhere blowing off in the wind
Protest songs that claim to have the answers are objectively less uniting than songs that only ask a question
December 13, 2022 @ 7:59 pm
Trying not to get sucked into the CuLtuRe WaRs here; I’m not a huge fan and find the music middling at best.
Majority of songs here rely on a single clever hook to make a point and then wrap it in generic country references. IE: “Middle of the Heart” being rephrased in certain ways, and relying on references to country-isms repeatedly is essentially the same as list-style lyrics from bro country, just hidden behind more conjunctions. “I went to service, I joined the army and got PTSD, I hunted as a kid…. here’s the moral of the story”.
Melodies are catchy but nothing to really write home about in novelty or skill. It’s hard not to categorize this as the Reddit version of Zach Bryan, but without much story behind the verses- kudos to Adeem, but they won’t make any of my playlists.
December 13, 2022 @ 9:02 pm
I usually click on the songs… I don’t think promoting people’s mental illness is compassionate.
December 14, 2022 @ 4:40 am
He needs a stylist.
December 14, 2022 @ 5:35 am
I think it’s easier to get over some politics I don’t agree with then to be able to get over just really bad music… I played this around the house for a week trying to get into it. It’s all just so plodding and awkward and just a poorly written mess of music. Is this dude really talking about the birth canal and checking the weather app and just all sorts of weird nonsense in a country songs? Nothing flows musically or especially lyrically, nothing in these songs makes much of sense when you’re listening to this. It’s just noise with a southern twang. Sounds like a bunch of songs Hayes Carle might’ve rejected. I appreciate what this dude is trying to do but they just don’t pull it off.
January 18, 2023 @ 10:07 pm
Well said. I find this clumsy lyrically and dull musically. For deep, emotional stuff, Arlo has them beat by a mile imo.
December 14, 2022 @ 6:47 am
Before reading this article, or knowing anything at all about this artist, I noticed there was a huge promotional push for this album. I’ve been seeing it everywhere, and it is in the promoted sections all over Apple Music. I’m always looking for new music, so I gave this a listen. Honestly, the music wasn’t anything that great, the singing wasn’t very good, and the lyrics were political and angry. It leads me to believe all this promotion, anger, and the large number of comments here have little to do with the actual music.
December 14, 2022 @ 6:51 am
December 14, 2022 @ 8:45 am
Adeem The Artist’s “White Trash Revelry” is one of those albums where you’re only allowed to have one opinion about it: It is the greatest album released in country music in 2022, and anyone else who offers any sort of differing opinion or counter-opinion will be immediately be admonished as a homophobic, transphobic piece of shit that must immediately be banished from the music community. That is why you’re seeing such universal, uniform consensus line up behind this album.
This is called orthodoxy.
If you’re like myself, and say that his song “Middle of a Heart” is one of the greatest songs released in 2022, perhaps THE greatest, give his album, the lyrics, the music, and everything else raving praise and a 7.5/10 score, that is not enough, especially if you have something, anything critical to say.
If Adeem The Artist wants to change hearts and minds with his music—which he has stated is his goal—he failed to do so with this album. That assessment was not shared as an attack, or a rebuke, but as an element of constructive criticism. Despite being characterized as some piece of shit trying to destroy this guy, in truth, I am his best friend right now, because I’m the only motherfucker out here shooting him straight. I am the only one being honest with him, however brutal it may come across. He can take my criticism, or he can cast it off. It appears the latter is the tact he will take. And perhaps he’ll be fine. But my opinions were offered with nothing but a love of music, and respect. And I wish him the best.
December 14, 2022 @ 10:04 am
December 15, 2022 @ 7:31 am
I would not want to be a journalist or web publisher in these times. You basically have the options of cutting and pasting the the preferred narrative or learning to shrug off the criticism of having an alternate or honest opinion. Or you can choose to avoid subjects of controversy all together.
Everyone is a victim these days, and they are not interested constructive criticism or alternate viewpoints, only validation of their victimization. Anything else makes you another victimizer for your lack of empathy.
December 14, 2022 @ 10:07 am
I actually had to mute some people on twitter because they were being so obnoxious hyping the album. Um it barely came out and now it’s on the top five of the whole year? Oh please. I played it and it didn’t grab me like Ian Noe or 49 Winchester.
December 14, 2022 @ 9:02 am
I agree with everything that you stated here except for your rating. You spent the vast majority of the article rightly criticizing Adeem for his bigotry towards anyone to the right of Chairman Mao. You also correctly complimented his ability to compose and write anthemic and authentically conceived country music. However why end with a rating that tilts the scales so heavily in his favor? Musically this is a fantastic album, just like everything that Adeem has ever done (even before he abandoned his birth name and christened his current persona). Thematically however, at many points it’s bigoted, accusatory, regressive and bitter, and extremely divisive. This is the exact opposite of what we need at such a fragile point in American cultural political history, a space that is already flowing over with hateful language and intense levels of un-reasonability from both ends of the spectrum. The majority of Americans are already feeling like a Stretch Armstrong doll being yanked from both ends by the loudest voices in any given room. “Overcorrect” is one-million percent the correct verb to describe what Adeem has done in recent years. I’m also willing to grant the Aaron Lewis comparison (in fact I think it’s a terrific point), but this works out evenly in both directions. Extremism is extremism. As apt as you can be at recognizing it and calling out unreasonable and divisive rhetoric, your ratings often don’t match the arguments presented in your reviews. You’ve done the exact same thing for Jason Isbell now for many years. Jason is a fantastic musician, but he’s an individual who has become brainwashed, rude, arrogant, empowered, and deeply bigoted towards anyone who fails to match his level of extremism on any given viewpoint. His reckless and aggressive twitter persona now regularly battles his incredible musical prowess for control of his legacy unfortunately. In my opinion you often make the mistake of giving scathing cultural breakdowns that drag on and on, but when rating the album itself you look only at the musical appeal based on your own keen (and honestly fantastic) taste in perfect americana / country production. In doing so you fail to consider the artist’s lyrics, their anecdotally measured cultural messaging, or their aggressive words towards regular people when considering the rating. These things matter. If they don’t then why write a double sided novel about them before issuing a rating? Either you care about these cultural narratives, these modern algorithms, and the propaganda / agenda that is being espoused by the current mainstream media or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. I love Adeem’s talent, and i’ve pulling for a very long time for him to gain notoriety for his ability to write and compose fantastic authentic roots music. This sudden success unfortunately feels fast-tracked and inauthentic. Almost like a system has been hacked using cultural tricks on journalists who are eager to check the boxes when picking their subjects, and who posses predictable and embarrassingly obvious bias’ towards certain people based on their fleeting yet contemporarily-fashionable cultural pedigree.
December 14, 2022 @ 9:21 am
I loved Stretch Armstrong.
December 14, 2022 @ 9:54 am
Thanks for the feedback.
So first off, if you take the balance of this 24-paragraph review, 11 of the paragraphs are what most would consider critical criticism of the album, and 13 are positive. So overall, the review itself was more positive than negative. Nonetheless, reviews like this present a trap, and that’s why generally, I avoid reviewing albums like these, because they’re ripe to be misunderstood by most everybody when you have lots of negative criticism, but you also generally land on a more positive take. As for the rating specifically, though just like you, I have very serious concerns about some of the material, it really is relegated to just a few specific songs. Granted, those songs cloud the judgement on the entire work, especially since it’s all underpinned in some respect with culture war fighting and positioning. But ultimately going on a song by song basis, I determined the 7.5 ratings was fair. Of course, that rating is winning me absolutely no allies when it comes to Adeem The Artist fans, both because anything less than a 10/10 will be seen as a vicious attack, and also because like is so often the case, people solely focus on the negative in an outsized perspective to its role in the review itself.
It’s unfortunate that after the reaction to this review, I’m going to have to re-evaluate reviewing albums like this, which I already do sparingly. If people would take these reviews with good faith as they’re offered with, they could be constructive. If people also knew how publicity works, they would know that I did no disservice to Adeem here. ANY review, especially one with a 7.5 rating, is a sum positive. But with the polarization of the culture war, reviews like this are just going to be opportunistically pull quoted, rabidly mischaracterized, and simply used as an attack vector. I can and do take the incoming criticism in stride. That’s my job, and I don’t run a popularity contest. But it also creates unnecessary distractions from the overall mission.
December 14, 2022 @ 11:10 am
I still think you are one of the most honest journalists working today. The fact that you took the time to respond to some rando’s comment, to do so gracefully while standing your ground, and to maintain intellectual nuance along with emotional stability whilst doing so, shows (in my opinion) that you’re still one of the only people on the internet who is equipped to tackle these complicated and uniquely present-day cultural subjects fairly. I apologize for the run-on sentence, but I greatly appreciate your response and I respect your defense of your rating.
December 15, 2022 @ 6:01 am
Naw bro you just have fully bought into a culture where racism isn’t a thing and a defunct symbol still means something in the South without purpose in today’s society. It basically gives you a free pass to make believe. Your reviews are very one sided. You need a class that explains to you something more exists than a basic middle aged white male in the South.
December 16, 2022 @ 4:39 pm
I’m from New jersey, but cool story.
December 14, 2022 @ 1:36 pm
I guess I’m having a hard time finding what is so divisive about this album. He bags on the KKK and racism, but do we not have consensus that racism is frowned upon?
King Honky Of Crackershire
December 14, 2022 @ 7:27 pm
So, you believe we have a consensus that racism is frowned upon, while simultaneously wondering why singing songs that portray a specific culture and demographic of people as racists, is divisive? Hmm, that’s a tough one…wish I had an answer for you.
December 15, 2022 @ 9:15 am
Well damn if this little exchange doesn’t epitomize the issue then I don’t know what does. You either get what Honkey is saying here or you don’t. Sadly, too many don’t.
December 15, 2022 @ 9:47 am
lol. we have a consensus that biden is president, but that doesn’t mean you don’t believe that it was all rigged. there is a scientific consensus that covid is real and the vaccines are safe, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still railing against them. there is a general consensus about a lot of things. doesn’t mean you are part of that consensus, honk.
King Honky Of Crackershire
December 15, 2022 @ 4:29 pm
Note how the communist will casually attack strawmen, to change the definition of a word on the fly, in this case, ‘consensus’, in order to defend a logical fallacy. This particular communist also tries to subtly bait me into his silly race games. I care more about rodents, than I do communists and their silly games.
Remember, the communist will stop at nothing to control the narrative, because controlling the narrative is winning, and unlike weak conservatives, the communist will do anything to win, anything to advance his religion.
December 16, 2022 @ 6:52 am
definition of consensus – a general agreement.
honky’s definition of communist – anything he doesn’t like or understand.
King Honky Of Crackershire
December 16, 2022 @ 12:02 pm
Me: “Hmm, that logic doesn’t make sense.”
The communist: “Crap, it’s one of those thinking people. I’ll try to create confusion by attributing beliefs to him that he doesn’t actually hold, mixed in with some that a lot of people hold. This confusion will also work to muddy the definition of a key word being used in this discussion.”
Me: “Sorry communist, I’m not a Republican; your games don’t work on me.”
The communist: “Shoot, I’m busted. I know, I’ll just play dumb and innocent, like I don’t know what this guy is talking about.”
December 15, 2022 @ 5:30 pm
Have you listened to the song? There’s no singling out of a specific culture or demographic. He’s literally singing about his own experiences with his family in the town he grew up in. This my problem with the characterization of the song in this review, people are responding to the song as characterized, as opposed to the song itself.
Gabacho Caro Quintero
December 15, 2022 @ 4:47 pm
Coming on a country music website in 2022 to bag on the KKK is like me going to the Intocable Facebook group to complain about cartels trafficking meth. It’s incoherent.
December 14, 2022 @ 12:03 pm
This is exactly what Adeem is referring to. This blind love affair with heritage and tradition in the South when it represents hate and blatant racism through a defunct symbol. Agreed you should never review anything outside of the very narrow tunnel in which you exist.
December 14, 2022 @ 1:20 pm
I listed to some of his music, and it’s cringe. I can’t think of a more hilariously cringe line than the one in Cast Iron Pansexual: “I’ve been reading gender theory and attending demonstrations” in a tone to suggest that what he’s doing is somehow ‘badass.’
This is akin to those cringe 90’s evangelical music videos.
December 15, 2022 @ 1:40 pm
This ain’t country music and doesn’t deserve discussion on a country music site.
December 14, 2022 @ 6:11 pm
HOLY CRAP PEOPLE. If I was him, I would read the review and all of the comments and be devastated. This is a freaking album and not JUST a social, political, or spiritual stance in the form of an album. What about the music? What about the arrangement? The chord progressions? The thousands of nuanced representations of the heart that comprises a musician’s work? Maybe I missed something and he is using his music just as a tool, but the tool should be secondary or tertiary and the music should come first.
I know we all love to be all esoteric and dig super deep into the commentary of what the lyrics stand for, but it is a slap in the face of the music.
What if the entirety of a Hank III album’s reviews and commentary were just focused around evil?
December 14, 2022 @ 10:20 pm
I would agree with you in regards to the comments, but I have to stand behind this review as having gone in-depth into the greater lyrical content of the album, reinforcing numerous times that the positive outweighed any negative (why it received a 7.5/10 score), and I also spoke in-depth about the music, the players, and the production. Of course all of this was overshadowed, but it is definitely there. I will write 120-something album reviews before the end of this year. None will be as long as this one, or more in-depth as this one, and none will I have spent more time on.
December 15, 2022 @ 2:09 pm
Very respectfully, and I emphasize the respect because I very much appreciate everything you do and truly mean that, I read again and did not find it. Specifically, if I read this review and did not listen to the album, I would have absolutely no idea what the album sounds like. In retrospect I probably should not have even brought it up because I recognize the importance of the conversation in general. For me, the message is absolutely secondary and I imagine that others like me gain very little from a review that does not talk about what the ears hear.
December 14, 2022 @ 6:25 pm
Just wanted to say good on you for doing the review and moderation. Great job, thanks.
I’m just glad that I’m lucky enough to have the freedom to keep my opinions to myself.
December 14, 2022 @ 9:54 pm
If the music is good, the music is good. That should be all that matters.
December 15, 2022 @ 6:21 am
Country music continues to have problems with queer people as evidenced by the fact that the comments section on nearly every article on this site mentioning a gay person is shut down after angry people pour in with unhelpful and inaccurate “grooming” accusations. Trigger is on a high horse about how oppressed people should feel about their oppressors. Sure, every white person in the pre civil war south wasn’t a slavery apologist. Was it reasonable for slaves of that era to be furious with all southern white people even if it wasn’t literally every single last one of them? Yeah, in my book that makes sense. It’s fair for us southern queers to be angry with southern culture as a whole for how it has treated us, despite the fact that all of us have had allies in individual southerners. It’s fine to rail against the system in a song without every caveat about how these are generalities and not every single individual.
December 15, 2022 @ 7:43 am
I want to elaborate and I realized some of my criticisms were a but misplaced here. I do now understand that Trigger is not saying that an angry song can’t be written, but if you say you’re trying to change hearts, he wants tact and not anger from the song writer. I withdraw my criticism that Trigger has an expectation for how a marginalizes person should feel or how they should express anger.
However, it’s so obvious that this isn’t written by someone who understands what it’s like being queer in country spaces. The quote “”Oh, I’m really not trying to judge you…’ qualifiers that are transparent and too little too late.” To me overlooks the fact that the claim that I’m not judging is SUPPOSED to be insulting, because it’s the way many christians have treated us queers. Oh, I hate the sin but love the sinner. I just think you’re conduct is taking your soul and the nation to hell but only God judges. That immediately obvious from the inside perspective. Also, the claim that the only transphobic thing to point to in country right now is some Instagram comments from an artists wife. That’s how the famous people are acting who have public platforms and rely on then for income. Typical concert goers are not going to pull their punches the way conservative celebrities do. Again, it’s very obvious how queer people are not welcomed in country spaces when the comments section on this site demonstrates bigotry on a regular basis. It makes ME feel like the commenters expressing these views wish I were either gone or at least not in what they view as “their space.” I think it’s so obnoxious for Trigger to claim to know how welcoming country is to queer people based on how non-country fans are acting about performers like Adeem and Lil Nas X. That doesn’t reflect what being queer in this genre is like.
I also don’t know where Trigger lives, but I lived in rural eastern KY until very recently and there were Confederate flags on a lot of homes and cars. There were handmade bumper stickers saying white lives matter. There were people who said disgustingly hateful things about queer people in front of me because they didn’t realize I was one of them. I also met some of the most loving and least bigotted people while living there. I know that wasn’t all of them, but it was enough to make a person very uncomfortable and cause a lot of pain. I now live in a little blue dot in the south. I know the south is no monolith, but I get where Adeem is coming from about seeing a lot of hatred around in some parts of it. I suppose these criticisms voiced this way isn’t conducive to an album whose goal is to create a big tent, but that anger is valid and deserves a place to be expressed in my opinion.
December 15, 2022 @ 8:16 am
You are wanting attention.
The “Look at me, me, me,” syndrome.
Why do you think people care what your sexual preferences are?
Go easy on yourself.
Don’t project your feelings onto different segments of the population, that you do not care for.
Get out there.
Find ways you can help your fellow man.
Be of service to people.
You will begin to have a lighter heart & feel better.
Wishing you Peace
December 15, 2022 @ 3:26 pm
You made a lot of inaccurate assumptions about me. I think people care about my sexuality because they devote time and energy at pulpits and on podcasts saying we’re burning in hell or hurting our communities by just existing. I think people care because again, I had people say hateful things to me because they didn’t realize I’m not straight. I think people care because Lavender Country can’t even have an open comments section on his obituary here. I heard many of the hateful comments while volunteering at the local food bank. I do serve my community despite the fact that I often see how it doesn’t serve me in return. I don’t spend time looking for oppression. Sadly, it’s unavoidable to notice that people don’t like you for who you’re capable of loving when you live in some places.
December 15, 2022 @ 3:56 pm
I thought the Lavender Country obituary Trigger did, was very good. (i think we are talking about the same thing)
That is awesome that you help out in your community. Thank you for that.
Learn to ignore the hate that people have. Do not take it on.
At UVM, in Burlington, Vermont, i was Physically Shoved by 2 co-eds, who were so all that & more, that they certainly did not want a 45 year old female in their Bio-chemistry lab.
Was fighting for survival, EVERYDAY, & here 2 snot nosed 20 somethings were shoving me around.
Am little. 5’1″. But, tough as forged steel.
Interestingly, as i was being shoved, 2 male students, 1 whom grabbed me by the sleeve, stepped me over into their space. They looked down & said – There, we are a biochemistry lab of 3.
It was a very cool moment, actually.
Trust me, i know what hatred is. On so many levels you can not begin to imagine.
Take the high road, Paige. Put the people who hurt you, in prayer. It is a great way to quietly help someone, & put it behind you, as well.
Was totally sincere when i said, I wish you, Peace.
And, Merry Christmas 🎄
December 15, 2022 @ 11:37 am
It’s well known that many great artists and actors of the past were bisexual: Tennessee Ford, James Dean, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn, Freddie Mercury, Elton John, many more. The main difference here is that their sexuality was not their “art.” The art stood on it’s own merit and didn’t require the listening or viewer to agree their own worldviews to enjoy it.
December 15, 2022 @ 11:58 am
The narrative has shifted so far that if I don’t agree with someone else’s multitude of pronouns or their current identity based on whatever, then I am called a white supremacist slavery supporting bigot. I’m not swayed by the ire.
December 15, 2022 @ 2:09 pm
First off, thanks for bringing your perspective to this conversation.
I was born and raised in Texas, and still reside in Texas, though I travel a lot, specifically to country music festivals. I most certainly saw Confederate flags growing up, heard the ‘N’ word etc., though it in no way permeated my experience whatsoever like it’s portrayed in some of Adeem’s songs, nor does it now. That’s why I was stupefied by the whole “Confederate flags at country festivals” canard when I’ve attend them all the time, and could literally count two instances where I had seen them at festivals in the last 14 years.
That said, I’ve been telling that anecdote for years now, and then this summer, I attended Born & Raised Fest in Oklahoma, and saw half a dozen Confederate flags. This seemed strange because I saw zero of them at this same festival the year before. It made me wonder if attempts to ban them was actually making them more prevalent, which is exactly happened when NASCAR implemented their no Confederate flag policy. I actually think it could have more to do with Lynyrd Skynyrd being on the bill, but it could have been both. There is a lesson there.
Seeing one Confederate flag can characterize an entire festival, or in the case of country music, the entire genre. This is stereotyping. The press isn’t saying all of hip-hop is anti-Semitic because of Kanye West. But they are most certainly saying that about country music due to Morgan Wallen, even though Morgan Wallen’s behavior pales in comparison to Kanye’s (despite still being disappointing).
” it’s very obvious how queer people are not welcomed in country spaces when the comments section on this site demonstrates bigotry on a regular basis.”
I don’t think this is entirely true. I think just like a Confederate flag, you can take one comment, and use it to paint an entire group of people. YOU are part of these comments sections. There are a lot of people in these comments dissenting and sharing opinions differing from myself, and also pushing back against some of the more judgemental opinions about Adeem shared by other commenters. And in this back and forth volley of ideas is where perspectives can change. I think this is healthy. If I wholesale ban any comments that I disagree with, that doesn’t make those opinions go away. It just hides the problem. It’s better to confront it. I think these comments sections are very heterodox, but some people selectively choose what to look for to reinforce their opinions.
Recently I posted reviews for Melissa Carper, Willi Carlisle, and my Song of the Year nominees that included Adeem The Artist and Willi Carlisle specifically. I have posted tons of coverage for LGBT artists over the year. I love to highlight and celebrate diversity in country music whenever I can. And there wasn’t any negative comments about identity from anyone in these articles. Why? Because these artists don’t bark at people about how they’re reprehensible, which is what stimulates the push back, similar to what you’re seeing in these comments.
That is why I am saying Adeem The Artist would have better served his purpose if in a few of the songs, he would have checked his anger and judgement, and let story and allegory convey his perspective like he did so well in “Middle of a Heart.” Nobody took issue with that song. They took issue when Adeem basically said white supremacy and Christianity are synonymous, and certain people are irredeemably responsible for atrocities perpetrated by people from generations ago.
My opinion, offered constructively, is that Adeem would have been better off, and more effective if he had checked his anger. Is it understandable why Adeem The Artist is angry? Of course it is. Is there still homophobia/transphobia in the country music community? Absolutely. And I personally am committed to help abolishing that by highlighting the members of our country music community who are making great country music, including, if not especially, Adeem The Artist. He got the longest album review posted in 2022, and has been nominated for one of this site’s top awards. If I truly wanted to downgrade him, I wouldn’t have talked about him at all. That would have been a much easier path.
But one of the reasons I both let these comments sections go unchecked to a point (anything clearly homophobic has been and will get deleted), and participate in them personally, is because I want to see how the public is reacting to certain issues, so then I can speak on how they are going to handle a certain topic with authority, as opposed to being resigned to an echo chamber on Twitter, and then being shocked and appealed when I go out in the real world and have my perspective challenged. That is why I raised the issues I did with Adeem’s album.
These are difficult topics because everybody’s dander tends to get up when they’re broached. But at the least, I would hope the honesty I brought to Adeem’s music would be respected. Unfortunately—at least on Twitter—that has not happened. Adeem and many of Adeem’s fans and fellow artists have decided my constructive criticism on why it’s not smart to stereotype people has been met with even more stereotyping of myself to the point of being comical.
Good art deserves good criticism. It deserves to be discussed and scrutinized. “White Trash Revelry” is receiving nearly universal acclaim. But if Adeem wants to reach the people they profess they want to, want to grow as an artist, and a person, they should hear me out, even if they ultimately disagree, because there could be a nugget of understanding there to take away, just as I hear out all the commenters here and elsewhere who criticize me. Because that’s the only way you will ever learn and improve.
December 15, 2022 @ 3:16 pm
I really do appreciate the diversity of artists that you highlight, Trigger, and I also understand that you try to allow free speech as much as possible on this site. I have also been relieved to visit Willi’s comment sections and see no hatred (he is my favorite artist and one of the reasons why I’m a devotee of this site). I do also see how we can’t have an obituary for Lavender Country with an open comments section and every dang Tyler Childers comments section devolves instantly into shit ever since he stuck out his neck with Long Violent History. I just want to point out that while to the average conservative, it’s easy to interpret the mainstream acceptance as “the war is won.” And that means fuck all to those of us still longing for that acceptance within our own communities. I don’t interact with the celebrities of this world too often after all.
Thank you for your work here.
December 16, 2022 @ 1:42 pm
A few other thoughts about Willi and how he relates to this conversation. 1) if everyone were as magnanimous and kind hearted and wise as Willi Carlisle we would all be living in a far better world. 2) Even he wrote “A Certain Kind of Fool” in an angry mindset and it’s a beautiful song and an accusation against certain kinds of people who are hateful. Not an indictment of the whole south by most interpretations but it does absolutely call people out. “the only risk in stars and bars is getting flipped the bird” “so here’s to every thought and prayer wasted on the poor and all the women and the children killed in lone drone wars and when God gets in the whirlwind, it’s not to settle any score.” And “it takes a certain kind of God to make a ruin of the world.” That’s a set of provocative statements that I certainly think have artistic merit. I do think there’s a noticable difference that because Willi is still cis gendered he doesn’t face as much backlash for his more provocative work as a trans artist. I do think it’s easier to be bisexual than gay and that’s easier than trans these days, in terms of acceptance both in the mainstream and other communities, so it isn’t an apples to apples comparison.
I certainly do feel like country is becoming a more welcoming space at the same time that I feel it’s fair to point out where it’s still pretty exclusionary.
December 16, 2022 @ 3:35 pm
Willi also talks in “Vanlife” about Elon Musk and says, “Meritocracy’s a lie,” which could definitely be taken as provocative, though hard to not identify as true from a host of perspectives. Carlisle really is a great example of how to weave ideas and perspectives into story to touch on much deeper subjects. That is an art form all unto itself. And even when Carlisle gets prickly, you still don’t feel like he’s ever speaking down to anybody, at least anybody who doesn’t deserve it. He also knows how to use humor to take the edge off. BJ Barham is the same way. You see fans of American Aquarium say all the time that they may not agree with him, but they respect his opinion. It’s because they know he respects them, unless someone’s a total SOB that deserves to be called out.
December 15, 2022 @ 7:35 pm
You are a blind follower of a defunct symbol(confederate flag) who would rather believe in things from back then evolve in a modern world. Your reviews are traditional white male country rhetoric like that defunct flag of the south with zero variety, boring yet predictable.
December 15, 2022 @ 8:09 pm
What say what? Maybe you want to go back and re-read what I said.
December 15, 2022 @ 11:33 am
I didn’t read one comment here that took issue with him being bisexual. The issue is with pronouns. Adeem the Artist is positioning himself as the counter culture and his lyrics reflect that. It’s disingenuous to then claim rejection of his beliefs are hate because his beliefs are not openly embraced by the mainstream of society. One can’t willfully choose to be an outlier and then cry “hate” because they are not embraced by everyone.
December 15, 2022 @ 8:57 am
I must be getting old, I barely know what the hell you all are talking about, and I don’t really
December 15, 2022 @ 10:42 am
Thanks now I know to skip this
December 15, 2022 @ 11:22 am
Wow this thread is something.
“Middle of a Heart” is my top song of the year. The album is top 10, but several I can definitely say I like better.
Some of the criticisms I agree with although I think the Robert Johnson line in “Going to Hell” is genius and if someone like John Prine wrote that line nobody would bat an eye over it.
I only knew about Adeem before this because American Aquarium brought them on tour last year and they put on an awesome show including a cover of “Lake Marie”.
You can quibble with some of content, but I could say the same about another artist who has some bangers and also some truly painful stuff depending on your stance, like say Toby Keith
December 16, 2022 @ 9:45 pm
I do not envy the music critic at all. Really understanding where an artist is coming from is sometimes a herculean task, & I think we’re all cut out to appreciate different albums, depending on our lived experiences & predispositions. So I would never put it on a single critic to be the single lens through which I discovered or appreciated music.
That said, @Trigger, I do find you to be a reliable source for great music, & I oftentimes agree with even your controversial takes. But while I believe this is a positive, good-faith review, I think there’s something you miss about the record, about Heritage of Arrogance in particular, & maybe about songwriting more generally.
I grew up on a dirt road in a rural town in Georgia, population >1,000, & I had one of the dads Adeem is writing about in the song. We didn’t have confederate flags hanging, but I got the state’s rights speech to counter the civil rights “rhetoric” my elementary school was teaching me. His primary concern as a parent seemed to be to correct my public school miseducation. And even that early on it changed the way I thought of him.
However, it didn’t change the way I thought of ALL dads. My best friend’s dad was my primary father figure, who ended up coaching my baseball team & teaching me to drive. And he was a very compassionate & generous man who shaped who I’ve become in many ways, despite being white & baptist & southern. Perhaps FOR being those things.
And when I listen to Heritage of Arrogance, I don’t get the sense that Adeem is painting with a broad brush. I think he’s just referencing a common experience. When Adeem says “That’s the kind of bullshit our daddies said to you and me,” I think the audience is being specified down to people, like me, who shared the experience. To interpret that as a criticism of all white, southern fathers, or to suggest that Adeem describing their childhood street suggests that all southern streets are lined with confederate flags seems disingenuous. Furthermore, Adeem is careful to place the blame for these views on a society that taught them wrong (“their compasses were bad”).
If people are going to willfully misinterpret it that way, it doesn’t take away from the song. And it’s not on the reviewer to front run the bad faith interpretations & hold that against the artist. I don’t think it’s too high a standard to demand of the listener to understand that an artist might be speaking about an experience they, themselves, didn’t have.
The lines “But I’ve been listening / Trying to keep myself from dismissing / Perspectives that I struggle to relate with / And I’vе been learning our true history and I hate it,” I think those are genuine words that suggest that the way to create a more equitable society is NOT to target & lay blame on individuals, but instead to question what’s been handed down to some of us through generations & to try & do better, to hand down something more equitable to future generations.
I think if you tried to include My America, it would’ve contradicted a bit of what you’re saying about the record. And I actually think that’s the lens through which the album should be viewed… it seems to me to be a record primarily about compassion.
Where he takes shots (“The sanctity of marriage ain’t a black and white thing / I reckon my love’s more sacred than Donald Trump’s third go around”), they’re not aimed wildly or painted broadly. And in Redneck, Unread Hicks, Adeem is actually identifying strongly as southern (which is done throughout the record) & combatting the stereotypes.
I guess I’ll also say, while I’m on it, the rant about black country artist erasure seems like a fine soapbox rant shoehorned into the wrong review.
But the larger point is that we should not just allow artists to write songs that speak to a very specific audience with very specific experiences, but we should celebrate it & go out of our way to understand when it’s happening & see it as an opportunity to expand our own perspectives. You do pay service to this idea in the review, but you place heavy constraints on it that I’d like to see lifted. I would love a take that says, “What might it have been like to have grown up in the situation described in Heritage of Arrogance?,” rather than a criticism that it’s not a universal experience.
December 16, 2022 @ 11:38 pm
Thanks for lending to this important conversation.
This really is a situation that comes down to intent vs. outcome. I most certainly do not question Adeem’s intent with this album. All I am trying to do here is offer my wisdom as someone who has reported on country music for some 15 years, and specifically along the cultural fault line that runs right down the middle of the genre, about what methods I’ve seen be effective at reaching intended audiences, and which ones have seen be counter-productive. I’ve seen guys like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Tyler Childers hemorrhage fans simply by making offhand comments in the press or on social media, irrespective of their music, and nowhere near the level of potential polarization Adeem engages in here. They have every right to say whatever they want, don’t get me wrong. I’m simply speaking about the effectiveness of those words.
Let’s just look at this statistically. Adeem simply wearing lipstick and eyeliner will turn off half the United States population to start, however unfair that might be. When it comes to country music fans who tend to be more conservative and traditionally-minded, it might be 2/3rds to 3/4ers. Of course, Adeem’s attempt is to cut into those numbers as his intended target. Making music that appeals to those demographics is one way to do that, and specific to this album, he accomplishes this pretty damn well. When it comes to some songs, he does this too. But by veering into very polarizing language and ideas in other songs, Adeem sullies any good will with this intended audience, and instead it only becomes entertainment for individuals who already are amenable to the message. I don’t say that to attack Adeem The Artist. I don’t say that to impugn his work. And despite some telling themselves that it’s my misunderstanding that’s to blame as opposed to the material itself, I respectfully disagree.
I do understand your point that a song like “Heritage of Arrogance” does attempt to offer some qualifying points to soften the blow of the message. My assertion is that it’s way too little too late, and incredibly transparent. Just look at the title of the song. Look at lines like, “Our inheritance is a heritage of arrogance and unchecked oppression.” That appears pretty broad brushed to me. You can later say, “And I swear that I don’t mean that as a slight…” but the curse is cast. In fact, these qualifying lines come across as patronizing, and arguably makes them even worse. Boil it down here even further, what Adeem The Artist is forwarding in this song is critical race theory. We are ALL taught about slavery, Jim Crow laws, Martin Luther King, and the Civil Rights Movement in America, even in the deep South. When Adeem says, “And I’vе been learning our true history and I hate it,” it’s the establishment of the idea that every single element of America can and should be traced back to racism. Now, we can debate if that’s true or not. But again, this extra-historical theory is just that—a theory—and one most general audiences dispute, let alone the intended audience of these songs.
As for “My America,” I am not confident enough in what is going on in that song to give a stated opinion. It could be irresponsible gaslighting that pales in comparison to “Heritage of Arrogance,” or it could be genius. I just don’t know.
I am a music fan. I want to see music succeed. Whenever I listen to an album, and when I offer up constructive criticism, I do so to try and make music better. Adeem has something great going on here. That is why I took the time to criticize it, write the longest review of the year for it, and engage in hours of commentary about it with other commenters. If Adeem truly wants to change hearts and minds, he has a template with songs like “Middle of a Heart” of how to do that. He has a template of how to fail at that with “Heritage of Arrogance.” He and everyone else can cast off my opinion, and assure themselves they’re right because of all the other positive reviews he’s receiving from a biased cross section of media that does not represent country fans—and in fact, is repulsed by them, and signals such via social media every day. But if you think this is really some of the greatest country music coming out right now, all the more reason to offer it up for scrutiny, debate its merit, and to make it even better. Or, like so many have said on Twitter over the past few days, cast me off as an ignorant piece of shit, and attempt to stifle any criticism or debate.
I’m not saying I’m 100% right. When you share as many opinions as I do, sometimes you get it wrong. Even if I’m 100% wrong here, I guarantee my review has been read more than anyone else’s, and has drawn more attention to his work than anyone else’s.
I’ve been doing this a long, long time. And I’ve seen what works, and what doesn’t. This album will work great for getting critics swooning, and fall on deaf ears with the audience Adeem hopes to reach with this album. Which is unfortunate. Because generally speaking, it is a great album.
December 17, 2022 @ 12:57 am
I appreciate the thoughtful response, Trigger. And I generally respect that you hold to your opinions, right or wrong, regardless of whether or not it alienates people. If I wanted uncontroversial opinions, I’d visit RS Country or some such. You might have a wider audience if you forewent covering certain artists or sharing certain views but you wouldn’t have me as a reader.
And that’s also something I respect about Adeem. And I don’t doubt that you’re right about the commercial impact of some of the lyrics (both in terms of certain listeners’ eagerness to embrace & others’ to dismiss the album), but I genuinely wonder if you’re selling some portion of conservative country fans short. And if Adeem writing what resonates with them from a spirit of compassion won’t change more minds than you think. Country fans, after all, aren’t a monolith. And maybe neither are conservative country fans.
But I still think you’re really missing Heritage of Arrogance. We’re not all taught the same things about our history. We’re not taught about property redlining & how the highway system was used to segregate cities. We’re not taught about the eugenics movement. We’re not taught about how the war on drugs disproportionately impacted black Americans & how the private prisons industrial complex made things even worse. This isn’t critical race theory, this is just history. And there’s a lot to hate about it. But isn’t confronting the fact that racism is a large part of our past & might in ways have shaped our present allow us to create a better, more equitable future? Isn’t that more patriotic than burying the sins of our past & allowing the lingering effects to continue? (Not trying to debate these points, just to elucidate what I think the song is about.)
And shouldn’t we allow Adeem the artistic license to say “our true history” & mean something along the lines of “our hidden history” rather than interpreting it so uncharitably as if he’s dismissing the great parts of our past? I would actually point to where he acknowledges that greatness of our region’s past in name-checking Jimmie Rodgers or Robert Johnson or a number of other great country & blues artists. It’s clearly an album that is steeped in a long history of country music, & not begrudgingly so, but enthusiastically. So some of your criticisms come across, to me, as contradicting the overall spirit of the album.
We can agree to disagree about the song. But I hope that neither you nor Adeem compromise your writing for the sake of commercial success.
P.S. I saw Sturgill a couple of times on the tour where he had Billy Wayne Davis open, & I think booking BWD to open was an attempt to antagonize a large portion of the audience. It seemed like he was trying to intentionally jettison a portion of his audience. And I wouldn’t at all group him & Adeem together at all in that context.
December 17, 2022 @ 2:56 pm
It’s interesting that you mention Rolling Stone Country. Where is their feature or review on this album? They’re supposed to be the progressive voice in country. Where was their review/feature on Tyler’s “Can I Take My Hounds to Heave?” It’s nowhere. These were the two most controversial releases in country music in 2022, and mum’s the word for them, and many others. I run a traditional country music website, and I’ve been talking extensively about Adeem The Artist. You would think that at the least, folks would somehow understand the importance and gravity of that, and at least give me some modicum of credit at even broaching the subject, as opposed to playing it safe and just ignoring the title altogether. But unfortunately, that’s not what’s going on.
Hypothetically, I run a HUGE risk at losing readers by simply talking about artists like Adeem The Artist, running obituaries for Patrick Haggerty, Jimbeau Hinson, etc. But it’s not traditional country fans who are swearing off this website from having written this review. They make their stupid little quips about pronouns and move on. It’s the people on the left that that not only rebuff what I have to say here, but do everything they absolutely possibly can to destroy my career and credibility. And I don’t think it’s because of what I had to say about Adeem The Artist that was critical, but what I said that was positive. They have put so much investment in telling people what a piece of shit I am, they cannot allow the canard they’ve set up around this website to be undercut by acknowledging the praise and support I have put behind Adeem The Artist.
The way this review was presented on Twitter and to Adeem The Artist specifically was taking all the negative stuff, screenshotting it, and putting it on Twitter, WITH the instructions to NOT come to this website to see the context. This shows you how these supposed open-minded people feel about the free flow of dialog of these important subjects. It also backfired, because I received a TON of traffic from Twitter, incidentally.
In some respects, I think you’re right. I think conservative country fans are more amenable to the music of Adeem The Artist than the media elite class is to differing ideas than their own about Adeem’s music.
One can have one opinion and one opinion about this album only. Other journalists, readers, and fans see what happens when you step outside the orthodoxy, and they dutifully shut the fuck up. This is unhealthy for the music community, it’s unhealthy for Adeem The Artist’s career, and if it takes me stirring some shit to get people to speak freely about Adeem’s music, so be it.
I’m not saying all my opinions about Adeem The Artist are 100% right. They’re just opinions, after all. But I stand 100% behind the idea that we should be able to discuss this music and its impact openly. Otherwise, what separates us from the orthodoxy that has gripped Music Row for decades?
December 17, 2022 @ 5:21 pm
There is definitely something dysfunctional within the general left when it comes to crossing that divide. We saw it on full display when the Clinton crowd lambasted Bernie for going on Fox News & drawing support from independents & conservatives. This should’ve been a GOOD thing, electorally speaking, but it was taken as a sin by orthodox Democrats despite the fact that he didn’t alter his talking points at all. And, of course, Clinton lost the general because she couldn’t pull those very votes.
But whereas some squeaky wheels on the left may be targeting your site, there are folks on the right who are burning Nikes or banning books or getting teachers fired for broaching a lot of the same topics you’re addressing here via Adeem’s record. So I don’t know if we can really make any qualitative statements about the left or right based on this one event. You should be glad no one’s on here trying to paint you as a pedophile.
Plus here I am, a self-identifying communist, defending your right to publish an honest view, even if I disagree with parts of it.
The whole mediasphere is broken, & the demand to *perform your values* via social media, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall, is creating an ever widening gap between the two sides. It has brainwashed us to seek out friction to the benefit of capital & at the expense of class unity. And in some ways this reduces Adeem’s album to a chess piece in a game between two warring factions. And that’s not fair to anyone, least of all Adeem. And I agree that their silence on this record (as well as Tyler’s) is an indictment of a brand like RS Country, & an example of Adeem suffering because the album is (and I’m only speculating here) deemed to be risky to feature.
But I also, obviously, agree that–regardless of this phenomenon–Adeem’s record is one that deserves to be heard. Underneath the acknowledged noise, people across the political spectrum seem to be engaging with it on its own terms. And that makes me hopeful that we can, over time, start to close the gap between the left & right, reduce the partisanship that seems to permeate all manner of modern life (from which we only suffer) & build some class unity that we can leverage to build a better society.
I guess that’s to say the Twitter barrage you’re seeing is more a function of capitalist class division than what I see as the true leftist agenda.
December 19, 2022 @ 4:29 pm
Trigger – Rolling Stone isn’t silent and so… IN YOUR FACE
December 19, 2022 @ 5:24 pm
In my face? What is this, 1994, and middle school?
I’m still not seeing a feature on Adeem the Artist from Rolling Stone, unless you’re talking about their Top 25 list just posted yesterday, which hardly counts with only one paragraph. At present, they’ve published more features on Morgan Wallen’s upcoming tour than on “White Trash Revelry,” which they couldn’t even bring themselves to call country on their list.
And strangely, they didn’t even publish their Top 25 on the Rolling Stone Country subdomain.
A mention is better than nothing though, and I’m not saying they may not feature the album in the future. My deeper point is it’s easier to steer clear of any controversy as opposed to having the tough conversations “White Trash Revelry” stimulates.
December 18, 2022 @ 3:35 pm
I think Trigger gets “Heritage of Arrogance” right. Compare that song to “Monsters on the Hill” by Jeb Loy Nichols, from his superb album The United States of the Broken Hearted, which was released three weeks before White Trash Revelry:
We’re so small, we’re so small,
We’re so terrible and tiny.
We don’t learn
And I don’t think we ever will.
The difference is between a “we” (“We, me included, are so terrible and tiny”) and a “they” perspective (“They are terrible, bigoted, racist, but fortunately here is me to enlighten them”). The first makes me stop and listen (it helps that the music is excellent too); the second makes me look for something less self-righteous to listen to.
December 18, 2022 @ 5:24 pm
I know this is very subjective, & everyone’s gonna hear every song differently. But what I hear in the song is that if we don’t break the chain of injustice handed down from generation to generation–not necessarily by any fault of their own (“Mom and dad tried to teach me wrong from right, but their compasses were bad”)–then it will continue. Or, in other words, that we’re no less susceptible to making these mistakes than our parents’ generation were, & would be no more at fault than they necessarily were. But there is an option to break the chain. That, to me, is actually the *opposite* of accusatory & self-righteous. And while I love Nichols’ track, I don’t think a song that discusses society’s ills necessarily has to be dour & fatalistic to avoid being self-righteous.
I actually think what makes this song special is the fact that Adeem is defining the problem as systemic, & that Adeem’s not making qualitative statements about the people involved. There’s a distinction made between people who are hateful & deserve to be called out versus the majority who simply inherited wrong ideas. And Adeem seems to be saying it’s a problem we all share, & that we must put in the work to overcome.
It seems easier to write a song that targets hateful people or to write a song about victims of hatred or even a song about how everything is just bad than to write a song about how people who have perhaps taken part in injustice are in ways victims themselves. And it’s a bummer that a lot of SCM readers seem to be categorically dismissing that depth of nuance.
December 17, 2022 @ 7:01 am
… “Unfortunately though, that action is only effective on one side of the culture divide, which is so commonly the underlying failing of activism set to music.”
adeem the artist is also a very proud cult member.
“”I was the 2nd member of this cult & when I got my official cult ring, I told her that I couldn’t wait until I could get pulled over and flash my ring and the officer would say, ‘Oh, I had no idea you were in DOOM. On your way.'” Adeem adds. “Dale replied, ‘We’ll run this city into the goddamn ground, but we’re gonna run it.'”
But, Hey …
This guy is the last bastion of tolerance.
Same rabid leftist ranting/different day.
The only reason he is being lauded.
This month’s poster child for sheer stupidity.
December 17, 2022 @ 12:06 pm
It probably helps to read a little deeper. This “cult” is a joke/performance art meant to draw attention to how people take the claims of lifestyle influencer celebrities at face value.
Is it sheer stupidity to think critically about the world around us? Or should we just assume about public figures whatever suits our biases or preconceptions?
December 17, 2022 @ 12:47 pm
““Dale replied, ‘We’ll run this city into the goddamn ground, but we’re gonna run it.’”
Read a little deeper, such as the above comment?
That statement made by Dale Mackey is a straight forward response.
December 17, 2022 @ 1:34 pm
If you listen to the song where Adeem references that quote (Run This Town), it’s a parody song about corporate Democrats with no real political convictions pandering to the electorate in a vain pursuit of power. (“Order brunch with a bunch of fascists / We gonna fast with the activists / Do a dance to court the favor of the masses / ‘Til we finally get ourselves elected.”) Adeem is talking about politicians without true political convictions running the town into the ground.
The original quote from Dale Mackey is obviously a self-deprecating joke, a part of the cult façade. I don’t know how much you know about actual cults, but the ones that truly have that type of ambition don’t come out & say it. I think Adeem repeating it openly suggests how unserious it actually is.
I get that what someone might intend to communicate & what others might hear can oftentimes be completely different things… subtleties like irony & humor can easily get lost in the process. But we have a media literacy problem, I think, when people commonly refuse exposure to context in order that they might cling to their original, sensationalist interpretation of an out of context quotation. We might–as a society–be better served if we were more concerned what others are trying to say versus what we are, ourselves, wanting to hear. (And this is not a problem exclusive to one side of the political spectrum versus the other, this is a general issue across society with media literacy.)
December 17, 2022 @ 2:05 pm
“The original quote from Dale Mackey is obviously a self-deprecating joke, …”
You can cloak her quote any way you wish.
“We might–as a society–be better served if we were more concerned what others are trying to say versus what we are, ourselves, wanting to hear.”
Heard very clearly what Dale, herself, said in the quote.
Not sure how familiar you are with cults.
Lot sof subtlety and nuance used.
That being said, wishing you a wonderful rest of your day.
1st day off in 6 days, and making Christmas sugar cookies, for Christmas Eve get together.
December 17, 2022 @ 3:42 pm
The word “cult” is almost always a pejorative imposed on a group from without. A cult will say, “We’re a religion,” or “We’re a self-help organization” or almost anything other than a cult. Because people don’t generally willingly join a cult. They just realize at some point that they’re in one, & at that point generally try to distance themselves from it. So, as a general rule, if a group self-identifies as a cult & people are joining willingly, there’s probably some irony involved.
Hope you have a very merry Christmas & that the sugar cookies turn out great. Headed to a Christmas bar this evening, may bake some sugar cookies afterward myself.
December 17, 2022 @ 3:51 pm
: D Thank you. Wishing you a very merry Christmas, as well.
“Headed to a Christmas bar this evening, may bake some sugar cookies afterward myself.”
: D Cool. 🎄