Album: Nappy Roots

Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz, Atlantic
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The Independent Culture

Nappy Roots offer an engaging Kentucky variant on the "Dirty South" hip-hop style, blending the rapid-fire rhythmic diction of Nelly with the madcap musical imagination of Outkast and the good-time verve of Mystikal. The latter's "Big Truck Boys" would probably get on well with the Nappy Roots' "Awnaw" – the first single from an album awash with potential hits – which finds the loose-lipped sextet boasting of being "them country boys with them big fat wheels and them dirty cow grilles". Or is it cowgirls? It hardly matters: the rusticated 4x4 pride brings to mind a Southern Black take on Dukes Of Hazzard roguishness, but a whole lot cooler and funkier – and sharp enough to rhyme "cognac" with "Pontiac", when the mandatory blunt'n'brandy bragging takes off in "Hustla" (not to mention the coupling of "ferocious" and "osteoporosis" elsewhere). And unlike most hip-hop crews, there's no obvious weak link in the Roots, no mate-of-the-band given his 16 bars for loyalty – not once,

Nappy Roots offer an engaging Kentucky variant on the "Dirty South" hip-hop style, blending the rapid-fire rhythmic diction of Nelly with the madcap musical imagination of Outkast and the good-time verve of Mystikal. The latter's "Big Truck Boys" would probably get on well with the Nappy Roots' "Awnaw" – the first single from an album awash with potential hits – which finds the loose-lipped sextet boasting of being "them country boys with them big fat wheels and them dirty cow grilles". Or is it cowgirls? It hardly matters: the rusticated 4x4 pride brings to mind a Southern Black take on Dukes Of Hazzard roguishness, but a whole lot cooler and funkier – and sharp enough to rhyme "cognac" with "Pontiac", when the mandatory blunt'n'brandy bragging takes off in "Hustla" (not to mention the coupling of "ferocious" and "osteoporosis" elsewhere). And unlike most hip-hop crews, there's no obvious weak link in the Roots, no mate-of-the-band given his 16 bars for loyalty – not once, for instance, are we requested to throw our guns in the air, and wave them like we just don't care. It's warm, beguiling stuff, the laidback drawls and tongue-twisting babbles borne on a strain of fatback party soul. All this can be traced back through Arrested Development to Sly Stone, with syncopated organ stabs and a slick tangle of scratching emphasising the infectious bounce of tracks like "Set It Out" and "Sholiz", and a barrage of mandolins adding an authentically rural backdrop to "Country Boyz". Downhome hip-hop album of the year, so much fresher and more life-affirming than the Eminem album.

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