September 4, 2003

Nappy Roots

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It takes a tight crew to throw down an 18-track hip-hop CD that stays hot till the end. Nappy Roots, to no surprise, handled the job well. The six rappers — Clutch, B. Stille, Big V., R. Prophet, Skinny DeVille, and Scales — started off back at Western Kentucky U. in ’95 and took it from there, with their first hit single, “Roun’ the Globe,” off their Sophomore CD Wooden Leather. It comes a year after their hip-hop phenomenon, Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz.

Everybody knows the first track sets the tone for the rest of the CD. Well after hearing “Good God Almighty,” I said just that and was hyped to hear the rest! The first seven tracks set if off. As expected, they flossed their style of funky, underground beats with their backwoods country rhythm, incorporating everything from guitar to banjo and of course, harmonica. The award for best bass goes to “Twang,” followed by “Lac Dogs & Hogs,” as a close second. That pretty much marked the climax of the album. Everything else had either an R&B or mainstream rap vibe.

You would think the eclectic Raphael Saadiq would add a nice groove to things, but the mix just wasn’t hittin’. In the next song they added some flute in the background. Where they got that idea, I have no clue, but it worked. By track ten I was tired of hearing about the trials and tribulations of making it in the business, but they flipped the script soon thereafter.

The boys unexpectedly used a middle-eastern music beat behind “Push On,” a style that producers (like Lil’ Jon on this one) are using more and more these days, but like everything in the game, it probably won’t be popular for too long. However, the cowbells that they used, those bad boys will never get old. That’s exactly the type of thing that separates Nappy Roots from the Gangsta rap genre. On top of that, they added some crazy electric guitar, and then came in with the acoustic on the schizophrenic track, “War/Peace.”

The CD also has a DVD preview with interviews, concert clips, and freestyles. Nappy Roots come with some bold musical and lyrical styling on this one. Clearly, Wooden Leather is a formidable follow-up to their breakthrough album. Although they haven’t topped the charts yet, I’m sure by September 16th, which has been dubbed “Nappy Roots Day” in Kentucky, the group will be on every count down and radio station out there. So what’s the big secret to their success? They say “ballin’ on a budget.”


Archived article by Jonathon Hampton