Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gangstagrass - Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic

Fresh. Exhilarating. Magnificent. These are all fitting adjectives to describe Lightning On The Stings, Thunder On The Mic, the bluegrass hip-hop amalgam by Gangstagrass. However, there is one adjective preferred above all others – stunning. That is the initial reaction after a first listen to this album.

The idea that the combination of bluegrass banjo picking, fiddle playing, and foot stomping accompanied by turntable scratching and rap lyrics would be a grand hybrid is absurd! Except for one thing – it really works. This highly intelligent cocktail is not something that anyone with a turntable and a banjo can pull off though; it takes highly skilled professionals with precise timing and talent. In other words, don’t try this at home, kids!

Fortunately for the listeners’ ears, Gangstagrass is full of exceptional musicians. Leading the way is Rench, an acoustic guitar playing madman that provides smooth harmony vocals and lays out all of the beats for the music. His partner in song for this record is T.O.N.E-Z, a talented hip-hop artist with extreme, fresh rhyme schemes and a great voice to rap them out.

Surrounding the duo are a banjo, fiddle, and a turntable DJ that provides the backdrop for the hip-hop mix which blends with the bluegrass style. Interesting does not even come close to describing the sound or the songs. This is downright superb. Hip-hop beats over bluegrass banjo is a brilliant touch.

While Rench’s guitar work is solid and sound defining, his vocals are the perfect contrast to T.O.N.E-Z’s, who raps hard and tight while writing deep, meaningful rhymes. Songs like I’m Gonna Put You Down and Put Your Hands Up High showcase the duos talent on vocals, rhyme schemes, and overall song enjoyment.

With the exception of Big Branch, which is worn down with a repetitive chorus that is more grating than fun, there is not a bad song on this album. Every track is pure enjoyment. Neither of the musical styles comes to the forefront, allowing both the hip-hop and the bluegrass their time in the spotlight. The marriage, while seemingly strange up front, is perfect when recorded.

What really stand out are the instrumentals. Both Click Ol’ Gun and My Enemies Lay Beneath The Prairie may not contain any vocals at all, but what they do have is foot-stomping power. With Rench providing fantastic acoustic guitar and Prepmode working the turntables, these two songs put smiles on faces and have feet moving on the dance floor. Rounded out by Matt Check’s beautiful banjo and Jason Cade’s fantastic fiddle these instrumental tracks are simply breathtaking.

Urban gangster. Old school cowboy. The two have met and the pairing has resulted in one of the greatest albums of the year. While Kid Rock may have been the father of mixing hard rock and rap and bringing it to the mainstream, Rench and T.O.N.E.-Z are the original bluegrass, gansta rap group, bringing Gangstagrass to the forefront of the modern radio world. Never before has a sound like this been experienced.

If there’s one album that you need to experience this summer, GangstaGrass is it. You will be amazed by the talent contained on this record. After multiple listens and several spins, you will still find yourself going back to this record again and again. The uniqueness of the style demands repeat plays, and obliging this request is a treat, not a chore.

Ryo’s Rating: 9 (out of 10)

Track Listing
That’s Right I’m Good
I’m Gonna Put You Down
Trouble Everywhere I Go
Click Ol’ Gun
I Go Hard
Nobody Gonna Miss Me
Big Branch
In My Aching Heart Shadows Linger
My Enemies Lay Beneath The Prairie
Put Your Hands Up High


Anonymous said...

"Never before has a sound like this been experienced." Not true. Check our Bubba Sparxxx's "Deliverance"!

Rock'n'Roll ArT said...

interesting find GangstaGrass