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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Bluegrass meets Hip Hop!?! Introducing... Gangstagrass

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Actually, this band ain't ezactly new. What they're doing however, might just be the first of its kind. Tell me if you know of a precursor, but the very aptly titled Gangstagrass is about the only bluegrass-based hip hop project that I know about. Of course, maybe I'm just late to the party as Gangstagrass' "Long Hard Times To Come" is also the Emmy-nominated opening theme song for the FX TV show Justified. Either way, I just heard their music for the first time, and it happened on their brand new release Broken Hearts and Stolen Money which came out in late January.

Gangstagrass got its start in 2006 as a project of a Brooklyn-based producer named Rench, though things really didn't take off until the aforementioned licencing deal with FX brought the group out of the shadows. I say group loosely, as the crew is Rench and rappers like Dolio The Sleuth, Smif n Wessun, R Son and host of other unheralded rappers. On first look, this seems destined for failure at worst and at best a niche-ey project that won't stick in the end. But after a listen, I'm in love. Though it may yet be fleeting, I find it totally refreshing to see some hip hop that's so far out of the box. Gangstagrass mines traditional bluegrass for beats and winds them over raps that merge these two opposite-seeming worlds together. While I've often seen similarities between inner city gangsterism and the Wild West, I never thought I'd hear these themes come together. Gotta say, this is dope...and although the video is not yet out, a primer for it is...

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