A record label-less, indie bluegrass/hip-hop band has achieved a dream usually reserved for much bigger stars. They seem to have a hit album on its hands, without any of the fanfare and marketing dollars that usually go into chart-busting albums, making Gangstagrass an anomaly of sorts among bands looking to find wider appeal for their organically based music. According to its frontman, known only as Rench, the quick rise of their album “American Music” took the band totally by surprise during its present ongoing tour.
Gangstagrass’ previous major claim to fame was being asked to write and perform the Emmy-nominated theme song to the cable FX drama Justified, which features an unusual blending of urban and rural music–an authentic synergetic sound that the Washington Post said “might repel some purists on either side of the country-and-rap divide, but will knock the socks off just about everybody else.”
With American Music (released April 9, 2015,) Gangstagrass has evidently earned the respect of many of those purists. Produced by Rench, the album features 14 tracks performed by rappers and real bluegrass instrumentalists. It contains both original bluegrass/hip-hop anthems, such as “Barnburning,” “Ran Dry” and the remake of their Justified theme song “Long Hard Times To Come,” as well as bluegrass/hip-hop reinterpretations of traditional classics like “John Henry” and “Wade in The Water.” Performing on the album is a diverse cast of MCs including hit-makers Smif N Wessun, the Juno award-winning Liquid, and the Emmy-nominated T.O.N.E-z.
The band lives by a mantra that if two unrelated musical genres like bluegrass and hip-hop can coexist, so can people of different races, religions and political affiliations.