Roots of Country Music and Hip-Hop

I’ve often contended that the thematic similarities between country music and hip hop (as well as punk) – poverty, faith, community, rebellion, redemption, love, an insanely loyal fan-base – have always been there bubbling just under the superficial stylistic surface. Juli Thanki over at does  a great job of fleshing out this concept in her story Who Says Country Can’t Hip-Hop?

Though I’m less impressed with the use of Kid Rock, Cowboy Troy and the Big and Rich creation, the “Muzik Mafia” as well as her “Screwed-Up Genius Who Died Before His Time” theory to tie the two genres -represented here by Tupac Shakur and Hank Williams – to be dubious, and the oversight of excellent artists that represent an appealing mix of the two cultures in their work like Ridley Bent and Buck 65 – I do applaud the article’s direction overall and the focus on House of Pain’s Everlast, the Gourds cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” and Snoop’s own work with Willie Nelson and his expressed respect for the Man in Black,  Johnny Cash.

With full knowledge of the level of loyalty of both genre’s fans, Thanki anticipates much hate mail from her article. If the email assailing does come to be it will just prove that no one hates quite as hotly as close brothers.

Buck 65 – Wicked and Weird


Ridley Bent – The Devil And Coltrane Henry


“Johnny Cash’s America” Premieres Tonight

HeadS up Twangers, “Johnny Cash’s America” premieres tonight, Thursday night, October 23, 2008, at 9PM ET/10PM PT on The Bio Channel.

The documentary explores the prominent themes of Cash’s life including love of the land, freedom, justice, family, faith and redemption through exclusive interviews, photos and unreleased music and footage. Interviews include Cash’s sister Joanne, son John Carter Cash and daughters Cindy Cash and Rosanne Cash, childhood friends and fellow band mates as well as Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, Al Gore, Tim Robbins, Loretta Lynn, Snoop Dogg, Vince Gill, Ozzy Ozborne, Steve Earle, Merle Haggard and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) all of whom are connected to Cash in surprising ways.

The special features 27 of Cash’s songs as well as unreleased and never-before seen footage including the 1965 “Johnny Cash Show” featuring solo performance of “Five Feet High and Rising,” outtakes from the recording studio with Cash and Bob Dylan from his elusive Eat the Document documentary and rehearsal footage for a Highwaymen recording session. The Cash family – Johnny’s sister, son, and other relatives – take viewers to rural Dyess, Arkansas to Cash’s childhood home and visit brother Jack’s grave which elicits a moving, impromptu singing of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”


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Johhny Cash’s America on The Biography Channel

A new documentary on country music legend “Johnny Cash’s America,” will air on The Biography Channel  on 10/23.  It examines Cash’s life, music, and influence on 20th century American history. It’s already premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival.  Commentary from as diverse a collection as Al Gore, Bob Dylan, Snoop Dogg, and Merle Haggard are featured in the film.

The Biography Channel also offers a nice section of it’s web site outlining Cash’s life.

Johnny Cash’s America


Willie Nelson to Appear in Snoop Dog Video

The Texas Yoda will appear in hip hop artist Snoop Dog’s latest video for his country-tinged song (co-wriiten by Everlast) “My Medicine”

Snoop says of the video “It has a country-music feel to it. I shot the video in Amsterdam and Nashville during the Country Music Awards. It feels good to me to be able to make music. It’s not a typical hip-hop song, but once people listen to it and see the visual effect to it, they’re gonna enjoy it.”

“I get to be a gun-slinging cowboy with my brim on, my boots on, my jeans on, my long jacket, jumping off a horse,” he added. “Walking into a brothel, spitting game, leaving with a dame and the money, mannn.


Snoop Dogg – My Medicine

I don’t often review singles on this blog but I heard something recently off an album that I won’t be reviewing in it’s entirety so I thought I would give it  a shot.  I was flipping channels over the weekend (and enjoying the Houston Rockets winning 22 in a row!)  and I came across Snoop Dogg discussing his new release “Ego Tripping.” During the snippet I heard the interview-bot mention that there was a country song on the new release.” “Yeah I love Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.” Snoop’s well known enjoyment of the chronic helped me to make sense of the Willie appreciation…but Cash?! Really?

Now admittedly I don’t know much about rap music (I relay on C-Dog as my source for that) but I’ve always believed that rap muisc, just like folk, punk and country music is, at it’s core, working class music telling the stories from the common person’s view. Whether for fun or for commiseration it’s all for the folks.
Sure when the labels, managers and marketing department gets done with it it sure doesn’t seem like it but there is a common thread to be found running through Minor Threat, Public Enemy as well as Hank Williams.

That said the story that Snoops song “My Medicine” is defiantly more in the fun column and is about, shocking I know, getting stoned. The laconic shuffle (with guitar provided by Whitey Ford AKA Everlast, no stranger to the rap/country world)  brings Snoop to start out with respect with a shout out to “My Main Man Johny Cash. A real American gangster” and then moves into spoken delivery stretched over Whiteys bottle neck guitar.  “My Medicine”‘s feeling and take on the healing effect of the occasional mood elevator reminds me of Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney’s excellent front porch jam “Worry B Gone.” As Snoop says “The more dedicated, the more medicated.”

With all the carpetbaggers storming Nashville for easy money and  demographic diversification I can’t imagine Snoop thought that his rep really needed him to do a country tinged song on his latest release. I respect him for doing it with the spirit many of those others will never reach.

My Medicine (mp3)