Nappy Roots @ Red Owl
The rise in popularity of Southern and Midwestern hip-hop has given otherwise overlooked American cities a voice. For example, the multitalented Big K.R.I.T. was raised in Meridian, Mississippi. Yelawolf, meanwhile, hails from Gadsden, Alabama. But rappers aren't particularly thick on the ground in Bowling Green. Indeed, the tiny Kentucky town is home to little other than a Chevy manufacturing plant and water tower. Who could have guessed that the platinum-selling ensemble Nappy Roots found its creative footing in this most unlikely of places? On early albums, like 2002's landmark Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz, Nappy Roots did their hometown proud, with frothy, languid tunes that sounded authentic yet primed for commercial radio. Watermelon — along with Bubba Sparxxx's '01 debut Dark Days, Bright Nights — helped establish a voice for rural-flavored rap in the mainstream. The collective's commercial acumen has dimmed in recent years, but their 2008 album The Humdinger is something of a small-scale masterpiece. Remember, before Big K.R.I.T. was rapping about collard greens, there was Nappy Roots.
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