I am in love.
Gangstagrass is a new album — and I mean “new” on a conceptual level — that’s a crossover effort between bluegrass and hip-hop. On first glance they seem like opposites, inhabited by incompatible binaries (black/white, urban/rural, liberal/conservative), but a closer reading reveals striking similarities: both are largely outsider narratives, both tend to deal fairly directly with social inequities, and both are distinctly American.
Both are also, commonly, not very admitting of women, but on this album (which you can listen to, in its entirety, at the above link) the second song features a female MC — a rarity in itself — who raps about a violent lifestyle that tends to take the lives of young men, impoverished physical surroundings, indifference or hostility from authority, and drugs as an easy, and perhaps inevitable, escape from such overwhelming systemic oppression. Except… she’s rhyming not about life in Compton, but a meth-riddled West Virginia coal mining town. It is, truly, remarkable stuff, and although art is rarely a solution in itself this particular album operates upon art’s highest and best purpose: to create dialogue where it was previously thought impossible. Also, it’s got some kickin’ beats.
Click and listen. It is the most worthwhile thing I have yet linked to on this blog.