There’s been a growing trend in the underground of the Country music world, we like to call it the Rural Rap movement (we dislike the ‘hick hop’ moniker) which blends rural, Country themes and melodies with some rap elements (production and vocal delivery) and one of the biggest grassroots artists of the rural rap movement is Big SMO, who is now signed to Elektra Nashville, a major label that’s part of the Warner Music Group. Big SMO, who is also debuting a show called “The SMO Show” on A&E, has an interesting talent that is showcased throughout Kuntry Livin’, SMO’s proper debut album.
Featuring 14 tracks, the album features “Anything Goes” (used in A&E promo ads for “The Smo Show”) and blends the boastful nature of Rap on the fiddle-filled “I’m So Kuntry,” “Hick Ross,” (a play on Rap star Rick Ross’s name) while also showcasing party jams like “Bumpy Road,” “Down In The Backwoods,” “Lawdy Lawdy” and “Come On,” a song which features WB Nashville artist Frankie Ballard. As fun as those songs are, it’s the songs, “My Place,” “Cover My Eyes” and “Who I’ll Be ”which showcase something more than just a guy whose carved his nice in this new movement like Colt Ford, The Lacs and Charley Farley have. “My Place” features Darius Rucker and was a late-addition to the album. It is the biggest hit potential of any song on the record and is just a feel good, have some fun, kind of song. Meanwhile, “Cover My Eyes” talks about real stories about losing yourself in a relationship with blinders. Then there’s “Who I’ll Be,” a song which takes a look into a man who understands his life and where he is and how he got there but that he’s not going to change himself and his lifestyle just because he’s getting ‘famous.’
Like the other artists in the Rural Rap movement, Big SMO is not going to be for everyone but for those that open their ears, they’ll hear musical tracks that are primarily Country with mostly lyrics about rural and blue collar lifestyles. Those that open their ears may just find themselves tapping their toes or nodding their head along to the rhythmic Rural Rap found on Kuntry Livin’. Those that don’t will get lost in the “Rap cannot be country” statements. A statement which is without historical context given that Country and the Blues and even Jazz (America’s musical art forms) have ALWAYS incorporated elements in them that were later incorporated into Rap and Hip Hop before returning to Country this past decade. As Big SMO proves on Kuntry Livin’,Rural Rap is a movement that’s growing and crossing over to the mainstream and probably will eventually gain some radio airplay in the years to come as well.