Country Rap
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Country Rap

Country rap is a fusion genre of popular music blending country music with hip hop-style rapping.[1][2]


1998-2015: Origins

AXS has cited Kid Rock's song "Cowboy", from his 1998 album Devil Without a Cause, as the first country rap song.[3]

Additionally, Mo Thugs Family released the single "Ghetto Cowboy" in 1998. Rapper Krayzie Bone described the motivation behind the track to MTV, saying "I was in there just doing the beat one day, and I was just sitting back [and thinking], 'Man, that sounds like one of those western movie songs where somebody's just talking, just narrating the story,' you know what I'm saying."[4]

Country rap began to expand as a genre when Bubba Sparxxx and producer Shannon "Fat Shan" Houchins created Sparxxx's 2001 debut album Dark Days, Bright Nights as an independent release which was later re-released on Interscope Records.[5][6][7][8] The trend continued in 2005 when country artists Big & Rich introduced Cowboy Troy to the country world via 2005's Loco Motive released on Warner Brothers, which reached #2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.[9] Country rap also influenced bro country.

Coming off the success of Bubba Sparxxx's platinum album debut, Houchins soon after created Average Joes Entertainment with Colt Ford.[10] This was the beginning of country rap taking its place as a separate genre while at the same time influencing mainstream country.[7] Colt Ford has sold over 1.5 million albums including 4 that have landed in the top 10 of Billboard's Country Music chart. Ford's 2012 Declaration of Independence debuted at #1 on Billboards Country Chart and his 2014 album Thanks For Listening debuted at #1 on the Billboard Rap Chart making him the only artist in history to have #1 albums on both Billboard Country and Rap Charts,[11] proving that country rap is a true genre and spawning a slew of new artists. The Lacs and Lenny Cooper have both sold well.[6] The Lacs' third and fourth albums Keep It Redneck and Outlaw In Me both debuted #3 on Billboards Country Chart in August 2013.[12]

Other artists of this genre include Upchurch, Lenny Cooper, Moonshine Bandits, Big Smo, Cypress Spring, Jawga Boyz, Gangstagrass and Redneck Souljers.

Music journalist Chuck Eddy, in The Accidental Evolution of Rock 'n' Roll, traces the genre's roots back to Woody Guthrie.[13]

2016-present: Resurgence

Country rap, and its subgenre country trap, made a return with American rapper Young Thug's experimental mixtape Beautiful Thugger Girls (2016).[14] In January 2018, Rolling Stone published a feature story on the genre entitled "Rhymes from the Backwoods: The Rise of Country Rap", highlighting a video essay made by rapper Murs called "Does Hick-Hop Have a Right to Exist?".[15]

By 2019, notable country trap artists include Fly Rich Double, Lil Tracy, Lil Nas X, IDEFK and DaBaby. In May 2018, Lil Uzi Vert appeared on a remix of Lil Tracy's "Like a Farmer". In March 2019, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" went viral and peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and broke the record for the most streams on a song in one week.[14][16]


Physical sales of country rap albums are higher in more rural areas where country rap fans do not have the Internet services required to stream or download music.[15]

There are numerous country rap festivals where artists gather to play their music for upwards of 7,000 fans.[15]


Bubba Sparxxx, considered one of the greats of the genre, produces music largely rooted in urban hip-hop.[15] In contrast, artists such as Ryan Upchurch make music that is more rooted in country because that's where he was raised.[15]

The term "hick-hop" is often criticized by some southern artists, with Struggle Jennings saying, "I love the country, I love the South, I've been fishing and hunting, but I'm not a hick. I'm not hick-hop." Also Upchurch, who is commonly referred to as a hick-hop artist is not. Artist such as Upchurch, Struggle Jennings, Jelly Roll, and Yelawolf are artists with a southern heritage that make music that describes who they are an how an where they were raised.[15]

The political ideology of country rap artists is perceived as being right-wing and conservative, due to some right-leaning politics expressed by artists like Upchurch;[15] however the political ideology of country rap artists ranges from liberal to moderate.[15]

Mainstream country artists who have rapped or collaborated with rappers

Country music in the way of talking blues style has been an influence of rap since the 1970s, by example "Talkin Blues" performed by Woody Guthrie (1947) and the famous 1961 hit "Big Bad John" performed by Jimmy Dean. Certain individual country music songs show a hip hop influence, such as Toby Keith's singles "Getcha Some", "I Wanna Talk About Me" and "Red Solo Cup" which feature spoken-word verses recited over an insistent rhythm.[17] The same style applies to The Bellamy Brothers' 1987 single "Country Rap".[1]Neal McCoy has also recorded a hip hop version of the theme song of The Beverly Hillbillies called "Hillbilly Rap", which includes samples from other hip hop songs.[1] American musician Everlast is often known to fuse the two genres.

In 1991, hip-hop house duo The KLF released a re-done version of their 1987 song "Justified & Ancient (Stand By the JAMs)", originally featured on the 1987 album 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?), recorded under The KLF's previous incarnation as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. The 1991 version featured vocals from American country music singer Tammy Wynette, and was featured on The KLF's album The White Room.

In 2000, rapper Tow Down featuring HAWK released "Country Rap Tune".

In September 2004, American hip hop recording artist Nelly released "Over and Over", a collaboration with American country singer-songwriter Tim McGraw; the song peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. Colt Ford and country-rock singer Brantley Gilbert got together and made "Dirt Road Anthem". The song was featured on Jason Aldean's album My Kinda Party. A remixed "Dirt Road Anthem" featuring country singer Jason Aldean and rapper Ludacris was played at both the 2011 CMT Music Awards and the 2011 Grammy Nominations Concert.

In 2010, Kid Rock collaborated with T.I and Martina McBride for the song "Care" on his album Born Free, and in 2017 he did a song for his album Sweet Southern Sugar, "Po-Dunk" which peaked at number 27 on the Hot Country Songs Chart in November.

American rapper B.o.B and country singer Taylor Swift also collaborated for a country rap song titled "Both of Us", in 2012. Swift did some vocals, mainly the chorus in a country rhythm and B.o.B performed it as a hip-hop song with some banjo guitars in the background. It became a top 10 hit in Australia and New Zealand and a top 20 hit in the US. A similar song was made by British rapper Rae featuring vocals from an unknown featured artist. It features a dubstep backing over the verses, similar to that of B.o.B's "Both of Us" and a country-written chorus sung by a Swift-sounding performer.

Country group Florida Georgia Line collaborated with Nelly on a remix of their single "Cruise".

Country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J recorded the controversial song "Accidental Racist" for Paisley's 2013 album Wheelhouse.[18]

In 2018, Carrie Underwood released "The Champion" featuring Ludacris.

In 2019, Billy Ray Cyrus collaborated with Lil Nas X for a remix of the song "Old Town Road" due to the controversial decision made by Billboard to remove it from the Hot Country Songs chart.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Lawrence, Keith (May 28, 2008). "Bluegrass meets hip-hop at Kentucky school", Chicago Tribune, p. 7. Convenience link.
  2. ^ "Podcast: Country In HipHop". New York Times. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "The 10 best Kid Rock songs".
  4. ^ "Krayzie Bone Saddles Up For "Ghetto Cowboy," Preps Solo Release". MTV.
  5. ^ "Hick-Hop Gets Down and Dirty". The Tennessean. Retrieved .
  6. ^ a b "The Unlikely Rise Of Hick-Hop". The Wall Street Journal. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Country Music Opens Its Ears". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Bubba Sparxxx Bio". 8/4/2012. BackRoad Records.
  9. ^ Stark, Phyllis. "Cowboy Troy's Wild Ride". Billboard.
  10. ^ David Jeffries. "Colt Ford biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009.
  11. ^ "Colt Ford Album, 'Declaration of Independence,' Debuts at No. 1". AOL. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "The Lacs' Score Career-Best Rank On Top Country Albums". Billboard. 2013-08-29. Retrieved .
  13. ^ Eddy, Chuck (1997). The Accidental Evolution of Rock 'n' Roll. Da Capo Press. pp. 126-27. ISBN 0-306-80741-6
  14. ^ a b "5 Things to Know About 'Old Town Road' Rapper Lil Nas X". Billboard.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "Country Rap: Inside a Genre Full of Big Dreams and Contradictions".
  16. ^ "9ope". SoundCloud.
  17. ^ Farhi, Paul (January 2002). ""Talk": Singing In the Key of Me". Washington Post. Retrieved .
  18. ^ Tim Nudd (April 9, 2013). "Brad Paisley Defends Controversial 'Accidental Racist' Duet with LL Cool J". People. Retrieved 2013.
  19. ^ Cyrus, Billy Ray (2019-04-03). ".@LilNasX Been watching everything going on with OTR. When I got thrown off the charts, Waylon Jennings said to me "Take this as a compliment" means you're doing something great! Only Outlaws are outlawed. Welcome to the club!". @billyraycyrus. Retrieved .

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