Yes, Eddie Rabbit Cut The First Country Rap Protest Song

Eddie Rabbit is one of those country legends who unfortunately has been mostly forgotten in time. Despite an incredible twenty #1 songs, and 34 total Top 10 hits—most of which he wrote himself—Eddie Rabbitt is never a name you hear bandied about for the Hall of Fame, or see tributes for on awards shows and such. Granted, in the minds of fans, the Eddie Rabbitt legacy is still fondly remembered, and lives on.

But something almost nobody remembers Eddie Rabbitt for is being a rabid traditionalist. If anything, he’s known for the contrary. In his time, Eddie Rabbit was considered pop country, or at least country pop with the way songs like “I Love A Rainy Night” crossed over to the pop market, and many of his songs didn’t include the commensurate twang that would come with being a traditionalist of the time.

Of course today, few question Eddie Rabbitt’s country music bona fides. This is partly due to how well his music has aged, as well as the poor state that popular country music is in today, which makes Eddie Rabbitt and others sound much more country in retrospect. Far from feeling dated, Eddie Rabbitt’s music sounds like what many folks think country music should sound like in 2023.

In 1991 though, Eddie Rabbitt was nearing the end of his commercial applicability. Capitol Records let Eddie go after his 1990 album Jersey Boy only landed him one #1 hit, and after Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, and Alan Jackson had become the flavor of the day. Rabbitt wasn’t done though, and signed with the smaller label Liberty Records to release 1991’s Ten Rounds.

The album wouldn’t even land Eddie Rabbit a Top 40 hit. It was over for Eddie as a popular country star, even though just months before, he had been one of the biggest artists on the popular country format. But this unfortunate reality also presented an opportunity for Eddie. As opposed to trying to appeal to the masses on radio or to satisfy the desires of the suits at a major label, Eddie Rabbitt could record and release what he wanted. And for Eddie, that was to release a country rap song. But don’t worry, it’s not the kind of country rap you’re used to from today.

There are a lot of songs that are given credit for being the first “country rap” song. Many of them are simply spoken words songs, which is not rap, and in some ways is insulting to the rap medium to imply that they are. So no, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” or some random Johnny Cash spoken word track do not qualify. Toby Keith’s 2001 song “I Wanna Talk About Me” is also given by some as the first country rap song, but it’s predated in decades by others. David Allan Coe loves to credit himself for inventing all of rap. But David Allan Coe loves to give himself credit for a lot of things that probably didn’t happen.

1987’s “Country Rap” by The Bellamy Brothers is probably the first true country rap song, but Eddie Rabbitt was not far behind. On Eddie’s 1991 album Ten Rounds there was a song called “C-Rap (Country Rap).” Oh but don’t fret country purists, this wasn’t Eddie Rabbitt’s last dying attempt at rekindling his popularity by chasing a trend. It was Eddie lashing out at the prevalence of rap, pop, and heavy metal that in part had probably helped end his popular career.

I don’t wanna hear any heavy metal
I don’t wanna hear one more rap song
I don’t wanna hear no dirty talkin’ on the radio
All day long

I don’t wanna hear any songs about Satan
I don’t wanna hear any violent screams
How in the world can they call that music
When you’re t-t-talkin’ with a drum machine?

I wanna hear good old country music on the radio
I wanna hear lead guitar and a hot piano and an old banjo
I wanna hear people singing in sweet harmony
I wanna hear something that sounds like music to me

Not only does Eddie Rabbitt (of all people) deserve credit for cutting one of the first country rap songs, he deserves credit for the very first country rap song protesting rap, drum machines, and other things in music, with Paul Franklin playing steel guitar, Brent Mason playing lead, and other top country performers behind him.

Since Eddie’s album Ten Rounds was a commercial flop, like so much of Eddie’s career, “C-Rap (Country Rap)” has been forgotten in time. But in the annals of country protest songs, “C-Rap (Country Rap)” was certainly a first.

If we’re being fair, Eddie probably deserves credit for coming across as a little prudish in the song too. You have to appreciate though, this was 1991, and as a devout Catholic, Eddie had fair concerns where popular music was headed. Thank goodness he wasn’t around to see the rise of Bro-Country, or hear many of the popular country songs of today.

But who knew that Eddie Rabbitt was so ahead of his time, saw where things were headed, and decided to speak out. It’s far from his finest song, but it does speak to Eddie Rabbitt’s love and devotion to true country music, even in a moment when the country music had put him out to pasture.

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