Nappy Roots

By - Oct 1st, 2003 02:52 pm
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By John Hughes

NAPPY ROOTS Wooden Leather Atlantic

Nappy Roots are the best musicians to come out of Kentucky since Joan Osborne, and a lot more fun. On this CD, like a champion racehorse at the Kentucky Derby, they burst out of the gate, grab an early lead, hold the pace despite some stumbles, and surge to a win.

I am a 46-year-old white male, on whom the charm of hip-hop is often lost, and I can’t get enough of Nappy Roots. They have an infectious groove on 15 of these 18 songs; if you’re at all well they’ll get you on your feet, shaking it and clapping. The glorification of violence and misogyny so prevalent in much of rap is absent here.

These gentlemen obviously have been listening to country blues, traditional soul gospel, Caribbean rhythms and Philadelphia soul, as well as hip-hop. But they are not at all derivative. They carry their forbearers in their hearts while living in the present, and create a vibe of joy and freedom.

Nappy Roots are deeply proud of their rural background, and consequently remind me of the defunct, lamented, Arrested Development. But these ambassadors of the Bluegrass State are more lovable than Speech and Company, because Nappy Roots deploy funny vocal stylings, and avoid prophetic pretension.

It’s just a rhythm party from start to finish, marred by a few bad songs, but ultimately ready for the Winner’s Circle. Yea, Kentucky!

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