There have been various attempts to mash together hip-hop and some species of country music, from Bubba Sparxxx to Big & Rich to Ridley Bent to the current “hick-hop” vogue. But Gangstagrass, which melds hip-hop and a grab-bag of bluegrass, old-time, and mountain music, is a horse of a different color. The band’s third album again joins lonesome vocals and the holler sounds of banjo, fiddle, and dobro to beats, scratches, and the rhymes of members Dolio the Sleuth and R-SON the Voice of Reason and guests. “Two Yards,” which finds frontman Rench singing a tale of economic dislocation before Dolio and R-SON rap a bank robbery, gives the flavor of these originals, and the band draws on traditional material as well, with faithful renditions of “Banks of the Ohio,” “O Death,” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with rapped additions (which in the case of “Circle” amount to a statement of purpose). Gangstagrass comes across as genuine and unforced. Two turntables, a banjo, and a microphone, anyone? (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Two Yards”
Gangstagrass plays at Johnny D’s on April 24.Stuart Munro can be reached at email@example.com
Correction: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this review misstated the name of the album.