Lightning on the Strings, Thunder on the Mic by Gangstagrass (Featuring T.O.N.E-Z)
- An engaging mix of rap and bluegrass
- Does an excellent job of finding common ground thematically between cowboy and “gangsta” mythologies
- Standout tracks are That’s Right I’m Good, Click Ol’ Gun, and I Go Hard
- Rating: 4 out of 5
One of my musical idiosyncrasies is a love for musical mashups, whether blends of two songs, covers that take a classic into a different direction, or artists who take two musical traditions and weave them together in new ways. After Little Nas X’s “Old Town Road” threw Nashville into convulsions I went looking for more artists combining rap with country influences, and I gotta tell you, Gangstagrass delivers.
The album shows its cards on the first track, “That’s Right I’m Good”, where a traditional rapper’s brag is backed by a solid bluegrass number, bringing a twangy banjo where one would typically expect layered samples or just a drum and bass combo. The rest of the album follows suit, but shows significant range, including “Click Ol’ Gun”, a rampaging bluegrass instrumental driven by a hip hop drum track; “Big Branch”, a fable of life in a mining town by guest artist Tomasia; and “I Go Hard”, a diss track about big name artists with no authenticity that features a wailing country vocal for the chorus. The album isn’t perfect, with a number of songs that are good but not great. But it’s a real proof of concept, and there’s more where this one came from, with the band having released several more albums after this. If the concept sounds even vaguely up your alley, try it, you’ll like it.