If Gangstagrass’s “Long Hard Times To Come” hadn’t been used so effectively as the theme song to the excellent TV series Justified, the idea of fusing hip-hop and bluegrass might seem ridiculous. But what makes Gangstagrass mastermind Rench (a Brooklyn, NY native) different from those who previously have attempted to combine banjos and break beats is a clear respect for musicians on both sides of the divide. The common ground is rhythm, and drawing from the one-chord drive of Dock Boggs’s “Sugar Baby” and “Country Blues” surprisingly makes perfect sense as a vehicle for a skilled MC. Certainly, getting Kool Keith on a track (“Western”) lends more credibility than, say, Kid Rock, and credibility is Rench’s primary concern. It’s hard to tell on early impressions whether Rappalachia is a game-changer though. American music is always at its best when black and white forms are blended more subtly, and this album largely smacks of a shotgun wedding. At the same time, it’s a bold vision of a potential future, and it’s inevitable that others will begin honing this album’s rough edges to forge a new sound.

mp3 VBR~224 kbps | 98 MB | UJ

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