Random Thoughts of the Week: What Country Artists Can Learn From Nelly

In the short life of this blog, I have already reviewed my fair share of bad music. However, an increasing, and more alarming, problem, is that I have reviewed plenty of “country” music that wasn’t country at all. Kip Moore’s Wild Ones is a good rock album, but I should never have reviewed this at all because it is not country in any sense. Luke Bryan’s Kill the Lights is an album full of trend-chasing music which explores pop, r&b, and rock, and then throws some country on the end like an afterthought. Brett Eldredge’s Illinois was almost exclusively an r&b album, with some rock, and Thomas Rhett’s latest, Tangled Up–so named because of his many influences–was a terrible excuse for music filled with attempts at nearly every genre except the one to which it was marketed. This is a problem that should be addressed not only by country reviewers, but by those of the other genres–the music these artists are making is often terrible in its own genre and thus is disrespectful not only to country, but also to whatever genre it fails to be.

Recently, rapper Nelly was asked about a rumored country EP. This was his response, as reported by
Saving Country Music:

I love country music. I respect country music so much that I would never think that I can sit down and just as easy do a country album. That’s not it. That’s just like some country artist saying, ‘Hell, I’m just gonna do a rap album.

Yes! Country artists, take note–the rapper Nelly is explaining that you can’t just “do a rap album.” I don’t see why Nelly had to explain this to you, but allow me to elaborate: you don’t see rappers and pop artists flocking to make country records. Washed-up rockers are the ones coming to country because they want the money; however, successful artists are not running out to make a country record. They know they can’t, and they have respect for country and for music in general. Nelly apparently has more respect for my beloved country music than Thomas Rhett, whose father was Rhett Akins. This says nothing good about the state of country music.

No artist is going to make an album filled with fiddle, steel, and country lyrics and then market it as rap. For one, rap fans are not as gullible as the fans to whom country music attempts to cater. Secondly, the gatekeepers of other genres are smart enough to keep fiddle and steel out–as they are trademarks of country! So why is it that country, in the name of “evolution,” is allowed to become rap, r&b, pop, rock, and EDM? This doesn’t even make sense if you believe in evolution: no one thinks people evolved from fish because they aren’t related at all. Evolution is based on clear relationships; rap is clearly not related to country and therefore can’t “evolve” from it. The same goes for the r&b/funk/disco/pop mess that Thomas Rhett released. The lack of “evolution” is clear when these artists attempt to copy other genres because, as Nelly pointed out, they can’t just say, “Hell, I’m gonna do a rap album.” They won’t make a good rap album because they aren’t rappers. They aren’t rappers, r&b singers, pop artists, or rockers; they are country artists. It’s what they grew up doing, and it’s where they excel. To make bad music that other genres wouldn’t claim, and then to claim it is “country,” is disrespecting country, the other genre, and music in general.

Tomato of the Week: Kasey Chambers

I discovered her about a month ago and promised a Female Friday. Check out her feature on Female Friday!

Random Country Suggestion: George Strait–“If You Can Do Anything Else”

I’ve been on a Strait binge since his new album–here’s one of his better songs.

Non-Country Suggestion: Passenger–“Riding to New York”

A friend sent me this song this week with the message that it had “incredible lyrics”–this is right, so I’m sharing it with you all.

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