Country’s Real Black Voices Should Be Raised, Not Stifled by Hip-Hop
“Real country music is for everyone. If radio would play this kind of music, people would respond in a big way, just like they do at the live shows.”
Since the murder of George Floyd and the proceeding political and cultural uproar, country music has been an especially lucrative target of cultural intellectuals and media think piece types as a clearly white-dominated art form throughout its commercial history. Many periodicals and writers have offered their submissions to the public discourse about how unfair, or problematic, or in some cases, outright racist country music has been or currently is, some with very salient and informative perspectives that are important to submit into the public forum, and some with more emotional-laden assertions that may distort or miss key facts or clarifications critical to the issue.
Since many of these articles and features are being authored by individuals distinctly outside of of country music’s fandom, knowledge base, or established journalism corps, they sometimes get certain details incorrect. And since many of these articles seem to be inspired by other articles on the subject, the same mistake or misnomer may run like the thread through many of them, like the idea that black contributions were stricken from the country music history books. Though many music listeners both inside and outside of country music’s established fandom may be surprised at the level of contributions of black musicians to country, when regarding the major historical works on the subject—from Bill C. Malone’s definitive and academic Country Music USA, to the recent 16 1/2-hour Ken Burns PBS documentary on the subject—the contributions of black performers are expressly laid out, especially in regards to the formation of the music.
However instead of nit picking these think pieces as they come down the pike, it’s been deemed important here at Saving Country Music to cede the floor and the podium to other voices on this subject, and allow them to speak their minds and raise their concerns, and to be mindful to not be the white guy in the room who stands up with his finger in the air to offer the inevitable “But…”
Nonetheless, a couple of articles on The Boot recently by a writer Marcus K. Dowling raise some especially important concerns. This is not a rebuke on Mr. Dowling, more a spirited rebuttal due to the concerning approach he’s chosen to take to the subject of race and country music.
The first article published on July 7th called Country Music’s Opening Its Doors To Black Artists Has Benefits Economically, Not Just Socially is very well-written and thoughtful. The upshot is that country music should not just be more inviting to black performers due to the social progress it brings, it may be essential to the genre’s very survival due to contractions in the economy brought on my COVID-19.
“A plan that starts with equally platforming markedly more Black artists is radical, but essential, from both an economic and a social perspective,” the article states. “Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, most industries are expected to lose 75 percent of their expected income in the 2020 financial year. Additionally, experts predict that COVID-19 will spur a simultaneous national economic recession and depression of a yet-to-be-determined length. As of 2018, the country music industry was rumored to be worth roughly $20 billion. Subtract 75 percent of that worth, and the result is that country music’s worth as an industry would end up being less than, at present, that of the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys.”
Certainly there are economic concerns for country music stemming from COVID-19, but what the article fails to explain is why country music is unique in that concern. If “most” industries are looking to lose 75% of revenue (football included, which would make the Dallas Cowboys worth significantly less as well), why does this put country music in a unique economic situation that would call for a “radical” plan?
In truth, every genre of music is suffering, and probably needs to have some plan moving forward. But every genre is different. In fact country music has fared far better than all other genres through COVID-19. On June 9th, Bloomberg posted a story entitled, This Is One Genre of Music That Isn’t Hurting Right Now. The alternative title to the article was, Why Country Music Is Thriving in the Coronaviurs Pandemic. The article goes on to explain that while music listening has fallen by about 550 million streams a week, or 3.4%—with dance, Latin and hip-hop/R&B suffering the most—country music has increased an average of 11.1% or 127 million streams a week, with that number continuing to increase over time, with one week registering a boost of 22%. And that boost has been felt across the board, from newer more radio-friendly artists, to classics.
Why is country music faring so well? One theory is because it’s comfort music. It’s nostalgic. Meanwhile country artists are also better equipped to offer alternative entertainment such as live streams. As songwriters, they can go acoustic, or perform drive-in shows. So even though the losses in live music are significant and alarming, country artists have more options than performers from other genres.
But moreover, the argument that country music must adopt more black artists for economic survival seems disingenuous, or hiding an agenda. It’s common in politics to attempt to appeal to people’s pocketbooks if you feel you may otherwise not reach them with a message, or to use fear to entice them further to your side. The economic argument feels sort of, “Well, agrarian whites will never invite black artists into country music naturally, so we must convince them it’s to their economic advantage or necessity to do so.”
But the economics of it should be beside the point. It should be the insistence on everyone in the country music community to be inviting to artists and fans of every race, nationality, and persuasion. Economic concerns should not only be secondary, they should be inconsequential. If country music loses money from being more inviting to black country artists, so be it. This discussion also shouldn’t be solely focused on black artists and fans. Hispanics make up the largest increasing minority demographic in North America. Thus it stands to reason courting artists and listeners of Hispanic origins would also be important if we’re looking at this strictly from an economic standpoint. Country music should be open to everyone, as long as their country…
…which brings us to the other recent article also posted July 13th on The Boot entitled, Hip-Hop Influences In Country Music Are A Gateway To Greater Representation In The Genre. Sort of a companion piece to the first article, the title seems to advocate for more hip-hop artists in country as a way to close the diversity gap, but the article itself spends a significant amount of time explaining how this has already happened.
“We are now in an era in which hip-hop controls a cultural conversation that was once awkwardly shared between the genres,” the articles states. “Similarly, American musicians and fans now seem to be bored with an industry that’s a shell of itself in many regards, and we’ve progressed past a place where country music existed on a metaphorical island unto itself. Just as the British Invasion flocked to the Delta blues, it’s the country artists inspired by rap-infused trap music who have achieved significant popularity in recent years.”
This in many respects is true. If anything, it’s severely behind-the-times in its observation. Seven years ago this week, Saving Country Music posted an article called How Hip-Hop Stole Country: The Arrival of the Mono-Genre. It makes similar observations to the article in The Boot, but with one additional and critical observation: with country music becoming nothing more than a subgenre of hip-hop, it’s not the introduction of diversity in country, it’s the death of diversity throughout American music as everything now sounds the same regardless of the genre.
Another critical point missed in celebrating hip-hop’s incursion and dominance in country music is along with bleeding diversity out of the music as opposed to introducing it, it also shades out actual black country music artists native to the country genre.
Many of the recent think pieces and features about country music’s racial issues speak about how at the beginning of the genre, black performers had a much greater share in the music, but were edged out as labels and charts gentrified, primarily after World War 2. As Saving Country Music has pointed out on numerous occasions, the artists often helping to keep the actual roots of country music alive are African American, more so per capita than white performers. Artists such as Charley Crockett, Rhiannon Giddens, Aaron Vance, Sunny War, and so many others are the ones helping to keep country music history alive in the modern context.
By importing influences and/or artists from hip-hop, you’re helping to shade out these important black country artists, as Rhiannon Giddens once pointed out when the CMA Awards brought Beyonce in to perform. Country music already has many black performers within its midst who have devoted their lives to the genre. Uplifting their voices as opposed to stifling them by bringing in commercially-oriented hip-hop acts is the way to sustainably and equitably make sure black voices are part of the country music community moving forward, while also helping to illustrate how African American influences have always been part of the genre.
Both of these articles in The Boot also smack of a hidden agenda. The same writer, Marcus K. Dowling, also wrote an article on August 8th, 2018 in Medium called Country Music Is Inevitable and Can Save Our Collective Souls. In the article, Dowling lays out a political strategy of how to flip America from red to blue, and identifies country music as the vehicle to do so. This was a similar thought process many academic papers emanating from critical theory proponents took around the election of President Trump.
“The backbone of Trump’s election success share demographic and locational similarities to the stereotypical demographics of country music,” the article observes. “Roots and perpetual appeal in Appalachia that extend along a similar line of white European immigrants Manifesting their Destiny across America’s plains and rural Southwest, near, around, and beside their one-time enslaved property.”
The articles goes on to surmise that if country music could be “radicalized,” then it could have “wildly advanced potential” for asserting a political agenda. Remember, in his article on the current economics of country music, Marcus K. Dowling also called specifically for a “radical” plan to save country from commercial collapse.
Marcus K. Dowling has the right to hold whatever political beliefs he wishes, and even to assert them through his passion for country music. But making arguments that country music needs to include more black artists for its economic survival, or needs to import more hip-hop influences to meet those diversity requirements—both of which are respectfully misguided ideas—might also be made with a more ulterior, political motive. There would be more honor in simply saying that country music needs to adopt more liberal ideals. Then we could have a more good faith discussion.
There is a pernicious idea embedded within the current racial reckoning that if an institution is more white than black, the only answer for this racial discrepancy can be racism and exclusion. Most certainly there has been moments in country music—especially in its early formations as a commercial enterprise—where black performers were either edged out or given less opportunities systematically. But that is not the fault of the fans and artists of country music today, who have embraced a wide array of artists from diverse backgrounds, from Kane Brown to Darius Rucker, to dozens more within the ranks of independent country and Americana performers often overlooked by well-intentioned, but less knowledgeable cultural writers outside of country music. As country music developed, it developed a wider appeal among white populations, perhaps partially due to the very early exclusion of black performers, but perhaps mostly due to simple appeal because it speaks to agrarian the landscapes where a majority of white people live.
The vast majority of music in America is black-influenced and performed. This is the resounding statistical truth even though blacks only make up 13.4% of the population. Hip-hop is the most dominant music in America by far—so much so it has significantly encroached into country to the point where it overshadows most country influences. Pop and R&B are also predominantly African American. It stands to reason that the 73% white population of the United States would find appeal in some form of music that speaks to them, to their lives and experiences, and there is nothing inherently racist about that. In fact dissecting modern mainstream country music, you’re likely to find less than 73% actual country influences in it, and are likely to find more hip-hop influences. Hip-hop doesn’t need country for support. It’s so dominant, it is taking over everything else, encroaching on creative freedom, including on other forms of black music as Questlove once proclaimed.
Country music has already lost the cultural war. But country music has never been about winning it. It’s been about preserving rural American expressions and stories. Re-integrating important black voices into that living tapestry should be a priority for the genre moving forward, especially when considering the exclusion of these founding influences during the earliest formations of the music. But performing this important re-integration as either a commercial enterprise, or via hip-hop appropriations will only be effective at eroding what makes country music so vital and important and unique in the first place, while simultaneously pushing out actual black country performers, injuring the ongoing effort to resolve country music’s racial concerns.
July 16, 2020 @ 11:31 am
before even reading the article, good luck Trigger. I hope you make it out of the comment section alive today.
July 16, 2020 @ 11:44 am
I have a lot of complicated thoughts on this, as someone pretty far to the left and who deeply loves country music of all stripes, but what jumps out to me the most is actually (for once in recent weeks) in alignment with Trigger, saying to bring marginalized voices into country, it shouldn’t come with changing the sound OR through the Nashville architecture and system, especially when many are already here and could use the attention.
For one, especially nowadays country spans the entire sociopolitical spectrum (and if we’re being brutally honest here, it has for decades (and that’s not even touching on other politics that go unexamined, like hip-hop’s conservative streak)). I’ve often said that country and hip-hop have way more common ground than they don’t – outlaw narratives, speaking truth to power – and it’s been the music industry that tilts a certain rightward direction that ensures certain voices are elevated over others to ensure the cash flow is robust (which happens in both rap and country, believe it or not). And for as much as we all love crapping on Music Row, why try to bring that change through a pipeline that’ll neuter it in both aesthetic and ideals? Acting as if the Nashville label machine can simply be bent by representation, while it may help, will almost certainly be used as a band-aid rather than driving systemic change.
Furthermore, as much as I’m tolerant of genre crossover, it tends to be true that Music Row’s version of it is watered-down and chasing bad trends in rap, R&B and pop that never feels like a proper synthesis of the sound that augments their strengths… because they’re chasing a monogenre sound for the easiest marketability. Representation without the creative control and ownership to drill into a better sound (and not just chase a playlist), again, feels disingenuous.
And again, there are black folks in country who make straightforward traditional country music as well as anyone, and to act like it requires hip-hop culture to promote change or success any which way is an obligation on artistry and activism that feels misguided and a bit condescending to those acts.
tl,dr – don’t conflate the aesthetic of a genre to a political message when the larger target should be the industry that wants to neuter both – as much as experimental hip-hop duo SHREDDERS have shouted ‘this machine kills fascists’, it’s a callback to what Woody Guthrie engraved on his guitar.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 12:00 pm
To me, “Hip Hop Country” doesn’t mean “Old Town Road” or “Dirt Road Anthem” – it’d be closer to the country equivalent of what Shorty’s Backatown is to jazz.
July 16, 2020 @ 11:50 am
Slow news day Trigger?
I think the bigger concern is all the misinformation and fake facts being presented by people with an agenda.
And I’m in no position so say “im sick of this racism thing” since I routinely fault Jason Aldean and his fans for being white suprematists.
But once again
I want to see the quality problem fixed before the woman problem, or the persons of color problem
I’d rather heard good music by all white men than bad music by anyone else
The same way I’d rather heard good music by women, Germans, mongols celts or quadrapalegics than bad music by white men
But replacing bad music by whites with bad music by blacks helps no one
It’s like recasting the last airbender movie with all black people.
The writing in that movie still stunk
July 16, 2020 @ 2:19 pm
You routinely fault Jason Aldean for being a white supremacist?
That’s sounds like a pretty defamatory charge to casually toss out.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:21 pm
So? He’s clearly a racist asshole who couldn’t spell “supremacist”
July 16, 2020 @ 4:32 pm
Funny thing about the “woke” culture.
The people who proclaim themselves anti-bigotry, pro-diversity are among the most narrow-minded, judgmental people out there.
King Honky Of Crackershire
July 16, 2020 @ 7:49 pm
Aldean’s not a racist. And if he is, it certainly isn’t clear.
July 16, 2020 @ 11:52 am
Not to mention that “bringing more hip-hop influences into country music” will solve diversity issues implies that the hip-hop genre has the same diversity problems as country music does. Maybe hip-hop is black music and country is white music (with some exceptions for both). I don’t see the problem. It’s safe to that the TYPICAL hip-hop fan would never touch a Merle Haggard record, just as I would never touch a TuPac record. That does not mean me and that person would hate each other, we simply wouldn’t share musical taste. Hell, I don’t even share musical taste with the woman I married. I just don’t see the problem. Folks are trying to fix what ain’t broke.
July 16, 2020 @ 11:55 am
I definitely should have proof-read this comment.
July 16, 2020 @ 2:29 pm
FWIW, with a few exceptions, I don’t listen to hip-hope and don’t enjoy it–but I love Tupac’s album, “Me Against The World,” and enthusiastically recommend that you check it out. It’s not at all what I expected.
July 16, 2020 @ 3:21 pm
I don’t know what FWIW means.
With hundreds or thousands of great roots-based songs and albums out there that I’ll never get around to, I can’t make time for any hip-hop stuff. The lyrics may be great, but I need the instrumentation.
Trigger has often pointed out that he believes that songwriting is the most important element in music, and though I greatly respect the craft, I wholeheartedly disagree, and I think Beethoven would too.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 3:37 pm
Hah – my dad refuses to listen to country/Americana because he needs the rock instrumentation, and doesn’t care about lyrics.
July 16, 2020 @ 3:56 pm
My mom is 53 and loves 70s and 80s classic rock radio. If I try to talk to her about some great lyrics in most of them classics, she’ll usually just shrug and say “I’ve never really listened to the words” to a song she’s probably heard a thousand times. It amazes me.
I was the same way as your dad until Hank3 changed everything.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 5:36 pm
He owns every Dire Straits album, but won’t listen to Mark Knopfler’s solo stuff.
July 16, 2020 @ 5:40 pm
Mine needs I IV V
July 17, 2020 @ 9:25 am
For What It’s Worth*
July 19, 2020 @ 8:10 am
July 16, 2020 @ 11:52 am
Now that it is clear that rap has attained a foothold in country music, I think that we should prepare ourselves for the likelihood that even the next nontraditional era will feature rap influences.
Country music in the Hank Williams era was clearly influenced by jazz (particularly in the rhythm), even though musically it was distinct.
Similarly, the neo traditional era of the late 80s/early 90s featured clear rock influences (especially in the beat), while still remaining sonically unique.
From this pattern, I think the best case scenario for the next traditional era would be songs like Jon Pardi’s “Heartache on the Dance Floor”. The rap influences would be there, especially in terms of rhythm, but the instrumentation would be country.
July 21, 2020 @ 7:24 am
That’s my least favorite aspect of hip hop and rap, lack of overall melody for beat or rhythm. I can’t stand 99% of rap or hip hop due to lack of melody. I love when I am told its because its a predominantly black genre… such an ignorant view on my position. Modern WOKE people and Racists both have the same views, black people only influenced the creation of hip hop. Ignore that early RB was just the origins of Rock and Roll and they were almost interchangeable if you listen to them. They ignore Jazz, Blues, and the influence of African culture on Bluegrass and Country.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 11:52 am
I’d certainly argue that country music’s initial commercial success was down to whitewashing the blues by incorporating Scots-Irish instrumentation, and reselling it to folks who refused to listen to black music…but saying “Country needs to musically incorporate more hip hop influences” is just silly.
Now, incorporating a hip hop attitude into country, in the way that Trombone Shorty incorporates hip hop swagger into his jazz, could be really interesting.
There’s a fury and desperation, a righteous fury, underlying the best hip hop music that could translate really well to the country format – closest thing I can think of is some of the stronger tracks off Taking the Long Way.
July 16, 2020 @ 12:27 pm
Those articles from THE BOOT are so cringeworthy I can’t believe someone actually sat down, thought about those things, wrote them down and published them.
July 16, 2020 @ 12:39 pm
I honestly only want to know how you came to find out that 73% of the influences in “country music” are “country”? Seriously though, what we need is good songs now matter how we get them or who writes them. Luckily there are plenty out there and more being written every day, which is nice!
July 16, 2020 @ 12:54 pm
It doesn’t have to be an either/or thing. People can embrace Black artists who have a more traditional country sound, and those who have a more pop country sound, as well as white artists who collaborate with rappers. (Go watch the video of Willie and Snoop doing “Superman” and if you don’t think that’s awesome and fun there is no hope for you. I also really appreciate the Chris Janson/Offset duet “Say About Me.” (Janson’s recent stupid ass covid19 spreader concert notwithstanding). As well as Breland/Sam Hunt “My Truck.” )
None of that is mutually exclusive. You can like Mickey Guyton AND Lil Nas X. It is okay to have a wide spectrum of musical taste. There is no correct and incorrect in music.
July 16, 2020 @ 1:02 pm
Some time ago on this website in a reply I made to an article for the lack of female artists being played, I stated that quotas would be forthcoming. I was lambasted by some. It has since been proven true with CMT’s policy of equal play.
This issue above smells of a similar thing. The statement, “The economic argument feels sort of, “Well, agrarian whites will never invite black artists into country music naturally, so we must convince them it’s to their economic advantage or necessity to do so.”
Affirmative Action is coming to country music. Be prepared. “Potentially” lesser quality being shoved down our throats for sake of diversity and to propel the hidden agenda forward.
Such is life today. YouTube is the savior thus far. I get to listen to what I want rather than what others want. So far. But as we are seeing, nothing is untouchable when there is an agenda that is not based on rational thinking.
July 16, 2020 @ 1:19 pm
On the whole, female mainstream country artists are so much better than the men. And country radio IS sexist. Some programmer actually said they had to play men because their mostly female audience liked to pretend the guys were singing to them, which is so far beyond offensive it’s a wonder someone was stupid enough to say it out loud.
I had to make an all female country Pandora station because I got so sick of radio.
So those quotas were WAY overdue and good for CMT for installing them.
Saving Bro Country Music
July 16, 2020 @ 1:58 pm
So that’s a ridiculous way to put it, but the point about country radio listeners preferring male artists IS backed by callout research. Female country singles generally test average at best – and often near the bottom of the pack for “net positive” reaction.
Recent reports suggest that they’re also polling far more women than men, so it’s not as if people are just “voting with their gender.” Female listeners, too, typically score male songs much higher than female songs.
Maddie & Tae’s “Die From A Broken Heart” is a recent exception, but that has another issue in that it’s an old song approaching the Top 5 at the format yet didn’t even have enough familiarity to make the most recent callout report.
Now, many people are rightfully skeptical of these numbers due to familiarity bias. If you primarily play males, then of course female artists aren’t going to test well. To further support this notion, “bro” or pop-country songs often test better than the more traditional, countrier-type stuff that anyone with ears would say is better music.
So it’s a vicious circle, because radio will look at the callouts to determine what to play, but if it doesn’t change what it plays, the callouts won’t change either.
I know some people will say they should “look at sales instead,” but that doesn’t always work. It’s not as if female singles are lights-out from a sales standpoint either. Because remember that it’s single sales – not album sales – that dictate airplay, due to the (however flawed) notion that single sales are driven by casual audiences (the people for whom you’re programming radio) while album sales are driven by fans.
July 16, 2020 @ 2:40 pm
You make depressing but valid points but, why is this not the case in other genres? In pop and hip hop/r&b there is much more gender equality. In fact most of the really iconic stars — Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, etc. are women.
July 16, 2020 @ 3:19 pm
I don’t think hip-hop is gender equal. It’s overwhelmingly male because, lyrically, hip-hop is primarily male wish fulfillment. It’s why I don’t listen to hip-hop anymore. It’s almost entirely vulgar sex and violence fantasies.
R&B and pop (virtually the same genre) on the other hand have big female stars in part because the genre is primarily female wish fulfillment. Particularly urban female wish fullfilment. Money, bling, fashion, independence, self-love, self-actualization etc.
Now, take this with a grain of salt but, I suspect female fans of country prefer male artists because of traditional, conservative, rural mores regarding gender roles. Men are viewed as strong, confident, protective providers. Rural females may perceive their world as being intertwined with a male partner and provider (after all, by virtue of their physical strength, males are better suited to physical labor like farming, hunting, mining, logging etc.). So, maybe this is reflected in their preference for male country music performers.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 18, 2020 @ 11:49 am
But country radio listeners aren’t “rural” women – they’re upper-middle class, suburban 20-somethings.
July 18, 2020 @ 4:27 pm
Lester: very true. Saw Carrie Underwood in Vegas and Blake Shelton in LA, both sold out arena shows. And my online country stan friends are mostly professional women with progressive political views.
July 18, 2020 @ 5:02 pm
Entertainment Weekly Gang represent!
July 18, 2020 @ 6:32 pm
Jake: I spent from late 80s to early 2000s making my living as a music reporter. (Not country, metal/grunge/goth/punk/industrial/techno ). So I will bet you $100 I have seen more indie bands in little smoky clubs with disgusting bathrooms than you have.
Don’t wanna do that any more, I’m a middle aged married lady with a small business to run. Have a nice day and bless your heart!
July 18, 2020 @ 7:06 pm
Damn Dee, you used to roll hard! Hey, I’m all for your People Mag Posse… and anyway, to each their own, right? But, hypothetically, if you thought I was teasing you a bit, it would be precious that would think that story helps. I’d love to chat longer but I gotta catch up on some TMZ. Later baller.
July 16, 2020 @ 2:50 pm
Regarding female listeners preferring male artists, what’s wrong with that? Look at rock & roll in the 50’s/60’s. The majority of the market was young females and they put their dollars behind male artists overwhelmingly. I’m sure a similar thing happens in country music.
In fact, I believe data shows that women overwhelmingly follow male musicians and male actors. It stands to reason that most people, male and female, prefer and or identify with male performers rather than female performers. The market for female performers is much smaller, despite 50% of the market being female.
So, follow the money. Labels and studios will push and promote male performers overwhelmingly, and since male performers bring in the most money they tend to earn the most money too. This, in and of itself, is the main reason behind a gender pay gap in the entertainment industry.
It’s tempting to take this personally and be offended, but it’s literally just business, and women have dictated a lot of business trends for decades with their own dollars whether they acknowledge it or not.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:03 pm
This all totally screws female artists, though.
And I guess I’m atypical. When it comes to mainstream pop country (not indie artists) my favorites are,
Female list: Kacey Musgraves Carrie Underwood Maren Morris Mickey Guyton Kelsea Ballerini Carly Pearce Lindsay Ell Miranda Lambert Pistol Annies Maddie and Tae Runaway June RaeLynn
Male list: Blake Shelton Luke Combs.
Used to like Jason Aldean because of the crunchy metallic vibe to his songs (was a metalhead in my formative years), but he was an asshole about George Floyd so now he is very problematic.
And that’s it, after that I like the occasional single (mostly honky tonk ones about beer). Period. Most of the guys on commercial radio, I would happily never listen to again.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:13 pm
As a man, I tend to identify more with female performers. There is something about the female voice, particularly in country music, that I love. I am sure I am not the only man who feels that way…
July 16, 2020 @ 3:56 pm
Sometimes we make simple things far more complicated than they need to be. Quotas are discrimination. By default. By definition. By nature. You can make a case that “ it’s ok because it’s punching up,” or some other mental gymnastic justification, and as much as I hate to see the fuckwad men of country radio dominate it, if you’re trying to fight discrimination with discrimination, we’ve already lost.
July 16, 2020 @ 1:10 pm
“preserving rural American expressions and stories”
Even defining “rural” is tough, culturally speaking.
July 16, 2020 @ 1:11 pm
I think the idea that “country” can only be one way is what will ultimately kill the genre. Other genres have been split over the years to incorporate all the different facets that makes all this music. Typically, ultimately, falling under the umbrella of Americana. Hell, Bill Munroe came up with”Bluegrass” to distinguish what he did from other country artists of the time. He created a new genre. New generations will ultimately shape what is considered popular. Do I like the Rap/country sound? Can’t stand it . Do i love Tupac? Hell yes. And don’t get me started on mumble rap! However, I cant remember the last time I heard a teenager bumping Ray Price. So maybe their is room to accommodate another style of “Country” music
I guess the bigger question is what makes Country music, Country music? I attended the Ameripolitan (new genre) Awards a few years back and Charlie Pride was the recipient of the nights award. He relayed the story of showing up to a gig and the lady was surprised he was black. She said” you look like them but you sound like us” . While an extremely raciest thing to say to the face of the man whose music she enjoyed, it shows that good music will resonate with people.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:42 pm
“I think the idea that “country” can only be one way is what will ultimately kill the genre.”
I certainly don’t think country music can “only be one way.” I think country music is an incredibly omnivorous, diverse, big tent genre that encapsulates many expressions of rural and working class people that can be enjoyed by everyone. Country music has survived as a popular American genre longer than any other specifically due to the incessant conversations and concerns about how to define it, the constant stretching of its borders, and the inevitable reigning back of it. But I fail to see how bringing in hip-hop acts and calling them country simply to satisfy some arbitrary idea that this is how to save the future of a genre that’s faring better than any other at the moment is a smart plan.
July 16, 2020 @ 1:19 pm
Semi-related to this, Trigger. From The Atlantic yesterday. Thoughts? https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/07/country-music-pandemic-protests-the-chicks-gaslighter/614092/
July 16, 2020 @ 4:34 pm
I think it’s strange that they hyperlinked to 25 sources in the article, and named many others, but only was willing to call Saving Country Music “one country blog.” They did eventually link to the article I was quoted from for context after I requested it. My though is it’s curious that The Atlantic and The New York Times basically wrote the same exact article making nearly the same exact points on the same day. The media echo chamber is alive and well.
July 16, 2020 @ 5:54 pm
SCM is just one country blog, but they sure are keeping a wary eye, aren’t they.
Success Trigger, this is part of being successful.
Take the compliment, sit back a moment, relish it, & keep on doing what you do.
July 16, 2020 @ 1:35 pm
Great rebuttal to a garbage set of articles, Trigger. This hellbent effort by the political left to shove race into every aspect of American life is not cute anymore.
Side note, Vincent Neil Emerson, whom many of us are fans of, re-posted (with good intention, I’m sure) on Instagram recently a set of images entitled “A Brief History of Country” with the hashtag “#blackmusicmonth” comprised only of instances of black contributions to country music in a tone that implies the genre was, in fact, maybe, possibly, definitely, stolen from blacks by whites. A common narrative in mainstream media in recent years.
That post was sourced from an Instagram account called “1824”, which describes itself as “a first-of-its-kind network of young creatives focused on content and the connection of artists directly to fans”. Dig deeper, turns out this “network” is a marketing arm of major label Universal Music Group and they sourced their information for this “brief history” of country music from LA Times, Time Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.
So, big question, why is major label UMG spinning a misleading, bad faith narrative about country music with talking points from a trio of washed-up lefty rags? Mind you, UMG is owned by French corporation Vivendi and Chinese corporation Tencent.
Worst of all, you’ve got a promising, well-meaning, maybe slightly naive, independent country artist like Vincent Neil Emerson promoting this narrative from a marketing arm of a major multi-national corporation that’d just as soon steamroll indie artists like Emerson. The irony hurts my soul.
Search “1824” on Instagram and see for yourself.
July 16, 2020 @ 2:03 pm
Interesting… dig one step deeper, that Vivendi corporation you pointed out appears to be more of a conglomerate with origins in the public sector, founded by Napoleon III.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:53 pm
First, in the current climate, I don’t hold any artist accountable for saying anything when it comes to race issues, as long as it’s not clearly racist. With journalists out there drafting “Accountability spreadsheets” specifically looking to demean performers and hurt their careers—often under false pretenses or with outright incomplete data—many feel like they have to say certain things to survive. And in some cases, they might.
Black performers play a critical role in the formation of country music, and I know this because I’ve read the history books published on the genre. That’s also how I know that those references and credits are there, despite what some say. There is definitely a misnomer among many listeners that country music is solely or predominately white music and always has been. This is something that deserves to be corrected. But the idea that whites have no agency in the music whatsoever is not only patently false, it is severely counter-productive to spreading the truth about black’s contributions to this music. This misnomer is being parroted by people who are looking to undermine country music, often for ulterior purposes, and solely because they see it as a white institution, and all white institutions must be destroyed.
I may have some more to say on this subject soon. I also wrote about it in dept last year:
July 21, 2020 @ 7:27 am
I absolutely despise when people claim you can steal music genres…
July 16, 2020 @ 2:13 pm
Sure, lets all of us white males tell the black people that we need them to play us some country music so we can feel good about ourselves. Shall i call their owner, uh, agent, now?
Success is a privilege, not a right. There is a right to persue happiness (music), but no right for success. There isn’t even a right not to have your music laughed at if its terrible.
Some people just don’t particularly like black music. I was raised on Odetta and i see hee influence on music i like. But her songs make me cringe.
So in short, i wish them all major success in life, but i don’t see it likely that many black people break out of being a niche act. An influential and respected niche act, but not necessarily a rich one.
How about USA catches up with the world in healthcare/welfare so that minorities can afford to chase music without having to make it big?
July 16, 2020 @ 3:10 pm
When you catch up with Europe on welfare, you’ll be as “successful” as Europe. It won’t be, it sucks because you ain’t rich and never made it, it’ll be it sucks because you were not born rich.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 3:34 pm
There’s significantly more class mobility in Scandinavia than America, haha.
The whole “basic human services” thing means that a lot more folks get the opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:02 pm
The old Swedish elite are still the elite, whatever makes people feel good about themselves i suppose. Tax and redistribution (especially if not taken from the parasitic class of wealthy leaches, but only the middle) does not truly enhance social mobility, only skews “relative poverty” and class.
Do not get me wrong, overall nothing wrong with Nordic countries, but one thing everyone always forgets is that Sweden has very deregulated business sectors. Every politician that ever wanted to sell the Nordic model wants a crap ton of business regulation to go with it.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 3:34 pm
You gotta have boots to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:55 pm
You have a valid point here. At the same time, having lived and traveled in countries where many actually don’t have shoes, literally, I think Americans have no clue how spoiled we are. You could make the popular comparison to Scandinavia, but even that is a bit elitist. By world standard, and certainly compared to the human history standard, there has never been a better time or place to be alive, yet we often act as if this is some kind of hell. One thing that gets me about America is that, compared to other countries, (especially Asian), we have an obsession with drugs, alcohol, fucking off, skipping school, sports, not being a “nerd,” entertainment, not studying, and then turning around and wanting things that hard work would bring, because we think we’re entitled to it by “right.”. This is a generalization, of course, but often true. And there are still people risking their lives to come here, for a place that seems to suck so badly. Many poor first generation immigrants end up having kids that are Doctors, because they have a culture not focused on the things I mentioned above. We can talk about changing economic policies all day, but I think we also need to talk about our culture. The globalized economy doesn’t give a shit about our sense of entitlement.
July 21, 2020 @ 7:33 am
The United States poor are still in the top 1% of the world… We don’t need a European welfare state here… The United States has been increasing overall quality of life through economic means without it in spite of horrible monetary policy and economic policies that benefit the rich. There is a reason the talking points went from absolute poverty to income inequality….
July 16, 2020 @ 3:50 pm
I’ve pondered quite a while and I still haven’t come up with any “rights,” only duties. From whence did these rights arise?
July 16, 2020 @ 5:18 pm
Rights begin with choice- after that it becomes whatever the Individual is capable of-
Life itself means you have the right to choose how to live it- as in pursuit of Happiness, which requires the exercising of Liberty.
Now, if one believes they are put here to serve another, as long as he himself chooses that, more power to him. Being forced to do something against your will is immoral. Using force, the threat of force, or incarceration or the loss of property or shaming into submission is coercion- ALL conflict throughout History is when one forces his will on another-
Our Declaration of Independence (the founding principle of the US) said it best.
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all mean are created equal and have certain UNalienable Rights, endowed by their Creator, AMONG THESE ARE, the Right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness-
I don’t see any caveats in that philosophy/founding principle- now, the men and women in Black Robes have replaced unalienable rights with inalienable rights, and called them “grants and privileges”- however, Rights predate the Declaration, the Constitution and certainly men wearing Black Dresses- and the questionably, illegally ratified 14th amendment is where that renaming came about in court-
inalienable is a grant or a privilege- tangible. Unalienable is not tangible and has no clear or distinct definition in terms of property or possessions- but, it does begin with “choice”- and expands from there.
The constitution was originally crafted without the Bill of Rights- however, it was ratified only after the Bill of Rights was inserted- those were to help ensure the fed gov’t couldn’t willy nilly do whatever it wanted and that the Rights of the People were protected from “official” tyrannical behavior-
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 6:00 pm
I presume your issue with the 14th Amendment it allowed traitors to be elected to national positions, if they received a 2/3 vote by Congress?
July 16, 2020 @ 4:10 pm
I agree with the idea about the need for us to catch up on health care/welfare. I would just note that it would be helpful for everyone, not just minorities.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:23 pm
Welfare in the hands of politics = Pay the poorer people in society to remain uncompetitive, unskilled and expect less of them, but keep their grievance and play for votes. Let them vote for 100 dollars more each year!
What should be a safety net becomes a lifestyle.
I know many against it demonise decent people that require more welfare than them & overall do not contribute more than they take. That’s the unfortunate side of government funding initiatives, its open to debate and the divisiveness of politics.
However the west’s ability to create wealth is why we bitch and moan about relative poverty, I feel more sorry for those in absolute poverty typically outside the west.
July 16, 2020 @ 6:18 pm
Welfare is about recognizing that everyone has the right to basic needs such as food, housing, and health care, regardless of whether or not they won the economic game. Well-designed programs like Food Stamps and Section 8, which do not have sharp income cut-offs, do not penalize anyone for earning more. With a few tweaks, Obamacare/Medicaid can be made to work that way as well. Ironically, the red states who refused to expand Medicaid have the steepest penalties for earning a little more.
Also, the vast majority of those on assistance programs are employed. Even the ones who aren’t are almost all either looking for work or taking care of family members.
Ultimately, it is all about being truly pro-life instead of viewing property/market as the top priority and treating life like a game.
July 16, 2020 @ 5:06 pm
I didn’t mean to open the welfare debate, sorry, it was early in the morning. What I meant was: let us assume that the western world predominately leans towards white people to be rich country stars, with a flow-on that white people get more assistance just in case they will be the next Luke Bryan etc.
So for fringe performers (such as black artists and also swiss yodelling groups, mongolian throat singing, etc) they have less financial opportunity and that’s not “fair”.
However, if society was tweaked so you could make a reasonable living doing something you were passionate about, then problem solved. Ish. Not perfect.
So then we can have more black/minority bands comfortably surviving with more chance that they will have a breakout hit that gets onto radio/awards etc. Positive cycle instead of trying to blunt force a negative cycle.
July 16, 2020 @ 5:46 pm
Fair enough on welfare, early or not it’s not always not the best conversation to have 🙂 A least there was no name calling!!!
Plenty of black musicians did very well in the 50’s and 60’s with rock. Plenty did very well in the disco era of the 70’s and later the hip hip scene in the 80’s through to now.
I suspect it is down to talented people peaking at the right time with the right genre and whatever is in fashion. Many musicians suffer this and come at the wrong time.
I think it’s more than race on this point, it’s just what do you have to offer and does it match with the current demand/trends. Even the most racist bastard is going to want to make money off someone who is talented and marketable. If not, then they they are just a dumb racist bastard.
Hip Hop/Rap/RnB are genres that broke it’s racial stereotype and many whites now enjoy the music, but the music is now never as good as it used to be. Plenty mass marketed rubbish. Point is, does the diversity matter or just the music? it should not exclude but should it sacrifice elements of itself to include?
I do not live anywhere near a rural area, most genuine country songs have nothing to resemble my upbringing or background (life lessons do though!), but I love the music.
July 16, 2020 @ 8:15 pm
That is the crux of most entertainment issues: is being good at entertaining more important than race, gender, or if someone had to sleep with their producer to make the all-time best record? Remember, you can only choose one.
An objective view might say entertainment is its own industry and anyone entering it signs their soul away, and we are free to enjoy what we want.
BUT this never worked
In practice this means pandering to the lowest common denominator and copy-catting.
Remember when the 90s country stars put out albums that might have their rock based singles next to some real country? Then along came Big and rich and made it big and rich by making albums of just the country-based party songs. And everyone copied that and we had bro-country.
That’s we need someone to say nope, we still need to keep country roots, and that way people can be experimental in every direction, not just lame.
So I think we need diversity for the sake of the genre and the listeners. Being fair to minorities is a nice fringe benefit.
July 16, 2020 @ 3:21 pm
NOW HEAR THIS: “Rap” and “Hip Hop” are NOT music. Anyone who thinks that they are, indeed, “music,” does not know the various components which must be present to form REAL music. There should be no attempt whatsoever to contaminate country music with such God-awful NOISE!
Meanwhile, Americana grows bigger and bigger each and every day, primarily due to the degradation and contamination of what was once authentic country music.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 3:35 pm
July 16, 2020 @ 4:00 pm
Ok Ben Shapiro
July 16, 2020 @ 4:03 pm
I also don’t think it really qualifies as “music” as it would’ve been defined fifty years ago since it doesn’t require any organic insrumentation. I’d say its it’s own art form.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:25 pm
We should be careful about using terms like “organic” instrumentation. Technically, electric guitar and even pedal steel are not “organic”, since they use electric amplification.
The bigger problem with rap is the lack of melody. For me, that is an automatic turn-off.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:35 pm
Is it not organic before the amplification? No different than someone singing through a microphone? Honest question.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 5:24 pm
Of course, a lot of the classic stuff (Native Tongues, etc) is derived from organic instrumentation, recombined into its own thing.
July 16, 2020 @ 6:33 pm
As Jake said, the standard should be the ability to play the notes live. Pressing computer buttons in real time at a concert is organic, while playing a pre-programmed track is no different from lip syncing.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 10:45 pm
How would you categorize a DJ using turntables to change the backing music in real time, scratching, etc.?
It doesn’t happen much anymore, to be fair…but it was a key element of early hip hop.
(I am, myself, a cantankerous motherfucker, who vastly prefers 80s and 90s stuff that used sampled music as the background, rather than the “built in a lab” beats that have become de rigeur since the rise of Dre…and the lawsuits against guys like De La Soul).
July 17, 2020 @ 2:17 am
I think sampling is fine, as long as the writers of the samples song receive some songwriting credits.
July 17, 2020 @ 6:50 am
This SNL skit about DJs kinda makes a point I think…can’t quite put my finger on it though.
July 17, 2020 @ 11:54 am
I just think it’s a shame that country is an artform was around for so many decades before hip-hop, yet has to bend and include hip-hop even though in my opinion is usually a terrible mix.Can’t we just proud ourselves on who we are? Even if we are different? I’m positive rappers Will not be including country and their songs or clubs
July 16, 2020 @ 5:33 pm
Perhaps a better way to differentiate here, if you are going to, is to say that there is music that is played, in real time, by a human, and there is music that is programmed and played by a computer. That’s where I see the difference. Not making a judgement call here, but there is a clear difference. EDM even more than hip hop (because often there are not even vocals) is music only made possible by programming machines…almost always on a grid. It is still possible, and still does happen, that a band males a record played by humans, with instruments. without the help of a computer at all. You can’t say that for 99.99% of hip hop, EDM and even most pop, that’s even possible, let alone done.
July 16, 2020 @ 6:52 pm
Christ, this old chestnut. “Rap ain’t music, it’s just noise and n***rs talkin!”
Music is the arrangement and performance of sound and rhythm. It doesn’t always require melody, vocals, or acoustic instrumentation.
I was a big hip-hop fan in the 90’s, when I was a teen and the genre was incredibly diverse in sound and message. Not anymore, not for a long time, as lyricism in the genre is nonexistent now and studio tracks are entirely homogenous and interchangeable. Hey, not unlike a lot of mainstream country now.
I really don’t care for contemporary hip-hop, but I’d never say it’s not music. What an ignorant thing to say.
July 16, 2020 @ 7:00 pm
If you do not know that “rap” and “hip hop” are not music, then it is you who is ignorant.
July 16, 2020 @ 7:56 pm
Rap and hip-hop are music, at least some or most of it is. Just like country, there’s good stuff, and there’s very bad stuff. In the hip-hop world, the same conversations we have here every day are happening over there. Why is all the worst stuff the most popular? Why can’t the best artists get heard? Why do major labels impinge on creative freedom? I don’t hate hip-hop. I just don’t see the value in call it country, for either genre.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 16, 2020 @ 10:48 pm
Uncle Ruckus would be proud!
But yeah, Drake adopting the 808s and Heartbreak sound and popularizing it is legitimately the worst thing to ever happen to the genre…and I really mean that.
July 17, 2020 @ 9:56 am
Oh that us such crap music executives were saying it was a fad and not music in the early 80s when Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang came out. And guess what it’s 40 years later and hip hop is stronger than ever.
Also, you do realize that hip hop/r&b/pop is a popular hybrid, right? And that hybrids are what is really popular in general.
For instance the 5 best selling songs of 2020 so far are, The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights,”
Tones and I “Dance Monkey”
Megan Thee Stallion, “Savage”
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, “Nobody But You”
Doja Cat, “Say So”
None of those can be clearly defined as a single genre.
July 17, 2020 @ 11:14 am
To repeat, for your edification, “rap” and “hip hop” are NOT music. They FAIL to meet all the criteria that form the very definition of music. If you don’t believe me, then you might wish to consult, as I have, the monumental works of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Owen Bradley, Chet Atkins, Phil Foster, or my late, great uncle, who played lead guitar for many years for that inimitable group, Pete Porter and the Pea Pickers.
July 17, 2020 @ 12:05 pm
Music. Dictionary. Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion.
Does it say anything about, the sounds can’t be sampled or computer generated? No it does not. Sit down.
July 17, 2020 @ 12:32 pm
So, you did NOT research Beethoven, et al, as you were so graciously advised to do.
Let’s get someone to explain it to you.
July 17, 2020 @ 12:45 pm
I grew up with classical music so I do not need to research it.
Classical musicians were trailblazers. If they were alive today, they would be thrilled with the new technology that is available to music and would be computer-generating sounds like crazy.
July 17, 2020 @ 2:28 pm
If the classical composers were alive today, they wouldn’t be once they heard the God-awful NOISE known as “rap” and “hip-hop.” They would quickly do themselves in contemplating with horror the degeneration of mankind that is represented by those two forms of noise. And, contrary to your assertion, I just can’t wrap my head around someone like Beethoven or Bach composing something entitled, “Bust Them Bitches in D Minor.”
July 17, 2020 @ 4:26 pm
July 17, 2020 @ 4:48 pm
July 17, 2020 @ 4:49 pm
Final comment on this thread.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:15 pm
This is well written Trigger. I think you’re right to hone in on the ulterior agenda. But I guess we’re past the point though of even being able to say that, even suggesting platforming someone based on their race…. is racist. It’s also extremely patronizing, and I’ve seen more and more POC say this. I know, it sounds naive to say something like that in 2020. That doesn’t make it any less true. And the more and more we ignore simple truths, the more and more lost we are going to become. I just hope someone’s leaving bread crumbs.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
July 16, 2020 @ 4:41 pm
This was a great read on the same day a country/hip-hop crossover track tops the all genre iTunes chart😶
July 16, 2020 @ 4:42 pm
Trigger, you’re writing is like the radio DJ in Shooter’s Black Ribbons. The last voice of reason and independent thought. Haha. At least in music journalism.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:46 pm
Hip hop needs to evolve and start using fiddle.
July 16, 2020 @ 4:57 pm
” cultural intellectuals”
Pseudo intellectuals- they are “experts” at making the simple seem complicated- the true intellectual makes the complicated seem simple.
July 16, 2020 @ 5:08 pm
Kinda what I said above.
“ People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.”
Fourth Blessed Gorge
July 16, 2020 @ 5:17 pm
Hip-hop and country are like ice cream and peas. There’s nothing “wrong” with either of them, they just don’t go together very well. I mean hardcore punk and classical music have nothing in common but it doesn’t mean that hardcore needs more classically trained musicians or that classical musicians need to be angrier. Hip-hop is hip-hop and country is country. If some gifted musical savant puts those elements together and makes good music out of it, audiences will respond in kind. I mean that Lil Nas X guy seems to be doing OK.
IMO this country spends way, way, WAY too much time and energy on finding new things to complain about instead of spending that time and energy on the legitimate issues that actually do matter. Racial injustice is real and it impacts actual lives every day. Pop culture entertainment is a distraction, it’s very unimportant in the overall scheme of things.
July 16, 2020 @ 5:46 pm
Again I think this is well well written, thought out, and with the best of intentions. This isn’t the first time you’ve “stood up for” Rhiannon, for example. Do you ever here back from people when you write these types of articles? I know you communicate with some artists to a degree (and perhaps, rumor has it, even even play drums with some)…but how do you think this is received by the artists you’ve listed? Obviously the hack “journalists” like to pick bones with you, but how do artists normally respond to these, or do you know?
July 16, 2020 @ 8:13 pm
Luke combs seemed to be a reader of the sight and like some of the recommendations.
July 16, 2020 @ 8:17 pm
Sometimes I hear from artists, sometimes I don’t. I honestly try to keep my contact with the artists I report on to a minimum, because if you get too chummy, you can’t be objective.
I wouldn’t call Marcus K. Dowling a “hack” journalist. As I said in the article, I think he’s a good writer and I respect his opinions. But I think he’s misguided, as are many, on this topic. Ultimately it’s my job to offer up my opinions and let the public decide. Mr. Dowling and I exchanged some words today and it was cordial.
July 16, 2020 @ 8:40 pm
Thanks. I wasn’t referring to him specifically, which I could have made more clear since I posted that in this article. But since you mention it, And correct me if I’m wrong… “laying out a strategy of how to flip America” used to be more of an activist thing than a non-hack “journalist” thing.
July 16, 2020 @ 6:49 pm
We definitely need some mumble country rap. Can’t wait for that to happen. (sarcasm)
Here’s my take. I grew up in the 80’s listening to everything. I got into a lot of jazz influenced hip-hop and listened to PE, Brand Nubian, PRT, KRS-One and some other what many would call radical artists especially for that period of time. There was a good message in a lot of that music for black culture. And even though most of the music was not original it sampled some classic jazz tunes that lead me to discovering those jazz artists as well. I’ll listen to any music that is good. Period.
Fast forward to today. Hip/rap for the most part is basically complete shite. It’s silly, vulgar, stupid, unintelligible and unauthentic to the core. It’s amazing watching how badly hip-hop as a whole has devolved in a couple of decades. And before someone points out one or two bright spots in rap just don’t because even with those it’s really awful.
So while having more black country artists is a completely fine thing to me bringing in more hip-hop to country music or really to any genre of music is a terrible idea now because of how bad it’s become as a whole and it will only make the music worse if you can even call it music at this point. Just say no to hick-hop.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 17, 2020 @ 11:34 am
It’s all fucking Drake’s fault. Canadian motherfucker castrated the genre
July 17, 2020 @ 12:06 pm
Yeah Drake sucks but at least they tried to make up for it with The Weekend. Of course then there was the dude Snow. I don’t even want to get started on his crappy song from the 90’s. My favorite Canadian rap is probably a group called Swollen Members. Yeah it’s a really bad name. Canada for a small population has produced a ton of good music but Drake isn’t it. And neither was that Jagged Little Pill girl either even though they get the hype from the dumasses.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 17, 2020 @ 12:10 pm
I like people Alannis has influenced (Jade Bird!!!!) a hell of a lot more than I like anything by the woman herself.
July 16, 2020 @ 7:52 pm
Give me more Charley Crockett & horses! Lots of horses, and more cool videos.
Used to drive horse & carriages in downtown INDY, during the Holidays, and some weekend nights.
Like being kinda sorta, in the Old West.
Been shot at, firecrackers thrown underneath my horse, 8 cop cars going the wrong way, down Illinois, with enough lights flashing & sirens blaring, to give my horse a seizure/cardiac arrest.
But my absolute favorite, was getting pulled over by a motorcycle cop, and getting ticketed because my horse & i pulled a U- turn in front of Union Station. (U-turns were allowed by the city government, after 11:00 p.m.)
Went to court, judge looked at me and smiled, looked at the cop, and said, I know you’re not chewing gum in my courtroom… looked back in my direction smiling, & said, dismissed. The whole thing was over in 30 seconds.
I looked at the cop, winked & said, see you tonight
July 16, 2020 @ 8:09 pm
LOL what did I just read? That’s awesome Di.
July 16, 2020 @ 8:19 pm
Been to Union Station many times. That is hilarious.
July 16, 2020 @ 9:43 pm
Barely made it out of the courtroom door, before started laughing. Was sure if busted out laughing in the courtroom, the judge would have sassed me, for my smart mouth.
Did you ever go to an art gallery in Union Station that carried a lot of racing art?
My brother David, Arie Luyendyk, & Paul Zimmerman, owned that shop. David sold a lot of his prints out of there.
And yeah, many wild stories about the adventures of driving horses in INDY.
July 17, 2020 @ 8:29 am
I have went there but any years ago.
July 17, 2020 @ 12:50 am
Superior article. More inclusivity in the service of undeniably great country music will make all hearers believers, the haters notwithstanding. Country has had great African-American voices, mostly singing material interchangeable with the white singers. Rhiannon Giddens is a gift, and though she’s reminding everyone where the banjo came from I don’t think she’s perceived as a country artist. I look forward to the next chapter.
October 9, 2022 @ 10:16 pm
Whoa just came across this a couple years after it was posted, and it is NOT right to include Charley in this or to continue this misconstrued story. The media has latched onto this from the beginning. His great grandmother was suspected of being some part Cajun but it’s not known, and he himself has stated 1/8th black at best. We are all mixes here in America and better for it, but it’s not right to call someone black just because it makes a better story. I bet he himself wouldn’t of approved being included in this article.
July 17, 2020 @ 2:48 am
Just my two cents:
1) Many modern country performers deal with “real” issues of life in their lyrics( Ian Noe, Jeremy Pinnell, America Aquarium,Childres etc..) while a lot of hip hop artists seem to live in this kind of gangsta fiction movie.
2) Why do people think it’s a problem to be called “antebellum” or “dixie” but noone thinks it’s a problem calling all women “bitches”, all blacks “niggas”, and only singing about making money and using drugs? Is this the progress we want?
Seems to me Hip Hop is way more reactionary than Country music.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 17, 2020 @ 10:06 am
…how much hip hop do you actually listen to?
I mean, I know the answer is “None, but my Concerned Mom Facebook groups tells me it’s scary!!!”, but it’s always funny when someone makes 15 year old critiques of a genre.
And I say this as someone who hasn’t found a great new rap album in quite a few years.
July 17, 2020 @ 11:23 am
I listen to hip hop all day long since i work in a corporate record shop and you’re probably right i know more about the mainstream. Anyway that language really make me sick in the long run and noone seems to have a problem about it. Why?
Cool Lester Smooth
July 17, 2020 @ 11:44 am
I actually have heard that the younger guys have fallen back into the early-2000s “Boats and Hoes (and Guns)” subject matter, as opposed to the “Gangster Rap” that I like, which uses similar language and situations, but is about the oppressive, claustrophobic terror of being trapped in “The Game.”
I wouldn’t say the lyrics themselves are any more objectifying than the average Chase Rice song…or most Guns and Roses songs, for that matter. They’re just more profane.
July 17, 2020 @ 1:06 pm
I don’t know and you’re probably right i just don’t want my two daughters being called bitches because someone heard it on the radio all the time and think it’s normal. You bet ‘ll kick their asses
Cool Lester Smooth
July 17, 2020 @ 1:30 pm
Hah, I hear that!
I just think that shit tends to fly about as far with girls as suburban white boys dropping n-bombs “because it’s in rap music” does with black folks.
Hell, the DOC went nearly his entire debut without swearing, until he featured the NWA guys on the last track to give himself a boost.
July 17, 2020 @ 12:18 pm
Who is to say they don’t have a problem with it? It’s hard to know In today’s environment, when there’s an angry cancel mob just looking for their next target. It’s perfectly acceptable (and popular) to trash certain a certain religion for its patriarchal and “backwards” views, but try doing that to another certain religion that is arguably even more so, and see what happens to you.
It’s much easier (and trendier by the day), to criticize country music than hip hop.
Also, and one of the things I actually love about the hip hop world if I’m honest, is that they DGAF anyway.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 17, 2020 @ 1:38 pm
…which religion, haha?
There are far more than two branches of Christianity, at this point, and quite a few of them are quite a bit more “patriarchal and ‘backwards'” than your average American Sunni.
None of us mainline Protestants get all that upset when someone goes after evangelicals, any more than someone like Ramy Youssef gets pissed about people saying Khomeini is a regressive prick.
ANYWAY, part of the reason that it’s easier to go after Country than Hip Hop is that The Moms of America trying to “cancel” hip hop artists is a badge of honor, while it’s a death knell for country artists commercially.
July 17, 2020 @ 2:53 pm
I specifically left my comment vague as to not go off in a tangent but I think it’s pretty easy to guess…. and it was used for the purpose of analogy only.
Generally speaking, Hip hop is really the only genre that doesn’t seem to care or give in to PC criticism, is the way I see it. I think journalists and Twitter activists have more impact than the Moms of America, in 2020.
July 17, 2020 @ 10:28 am
If I was to judge country music by it’s mainstream, I’d hate the shit out of it.
July 17, 2020 @ 5:42 am
if hip hop music were a virus it would be called Covid-19
July 17, 2020 @ 6:12 am
My (I’m sure) unpopular opinion is: it’s music. I don’t care about the ethnicity of the artist as long as the music is good.I read some of these scolding articles, telling me who I should be listening to. Fine. I’ll sample new artists, but I make up my own mind. I’m old enough to remember when Charley Pride first arrived on radio. I loved those first singles, and at the time his ethnicity was a hushed secret. My best friend and I were surprised to find out he was African-American, but that knowledge made not one iota of difference to us.
King Honky Of Crackershire
July 18, 2020 @ 3:01 pm
I’m with you Michelle. I couldn’t care less about race. Unfortunately, for people like Trigger and other leftists, race is a very big deal. They want us to make decisions about people, based upon their race.
July 18, 2020 @ 5:17 pm
When did Trigger become a leftist, particularly on cultural matters??
King Honky Of Crackershire
July 18, 2020 @ 6:51 pm
Trigger’s always been a leftist. I don’t think he’s going to burn Old Glory anytime soon, but he’s definitely left of center.
Despite him being a leftist, he does a fairly good job of pointing out the hypocrisy on his own side, and with acknowledging when people like Isbell say something stupid.
July 19, 2020 @ 12:47 am
My sense of Trigger’s subconscious philosophy from reading his writing over the years is that he is a left-leaning populist on economic matters, but moderate or maybe even right-leaning traditionalist culturally.
Regardless, he has always emphasized that he hates politics and wants music to be apolitical. He is most certainly not any type of hard-core ideologue.
July 18, 2020 @ 1:34 pm
If an artist’s music can reasonably be classified as “country,” they’re welcome to the genre, be they black, white, male, female or whatever. But the genre shouldn’t further compromise itself for the sake of political correctness. In my view, there are already too many God-awful R&B influences in mainstream country — albeit primarily from white artists — and we don’t need more. And if we’re talking about equality, why isn’t it also deemed a crisis that white traditional-leaning country artists aren’t on the R&B charts?
Though I think there’s value in preserving genres and avoiding a monogenre, I also think my objection to pop and R&B influencing country is heightened in the modern era because most contemporary pop and R&B is just plain bad. If this were the 60s or 70s, my objections wouldn’t be quite as loud.
July 18, 2020 @ 2:41 pm
Trigger I’m interested to your thoughts in Jimmie Allen and his new collaborations EP Bettie James. Jimmie sometimes can put out a straight country song and other times seems to have a mixed bag of genres.
July 20, 2020 @ 8:29 pm
Charley Crockett is black? News to me and ive watched his videos and concert footage plenty. Oops. Dude is awesome and I’ll stay color blind and not have to label artists by their skin color.
August 17, 2020 @ 9:16 am
I am forgetting his name but lead singer of the roots wrote a series of article about the problem that are inflicted on black culture when it is only defined by hip-hop/rap. It was an amazing piece.