“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is how the old saying goes. Hip Hop, more so than any other musical genre right now, is taking that advice to heart. Nashville’s Grits is the 413th southern act to have a major rap CD released in the past year. Of course, with the likes of the Clipse whistlin’ Dixie all the way up the charts, you should expect MCs from South Carolina and Mississippi on MTV 2 any day now.
If they sound anything like the Grits’ Coffee and Bonafide, bring’em on. With their fourth album (three were released regionally), The Art of Translation, touching on topics ranging from out-of-wedlock kids(“Lovechild”) to life’s struggles (the moaning “Ooh Ahh”) to confused ladies (“Video Girls”), it’s easy to hear that these Tennessee Titans have a lot more on their mind than getting a club crunk. What’s good about the proud Christian rappers is that they don’t shortchange production to focus on lyricism. A bevy of guitar plucks (“Here We Go,” “Be Mine”) and bass-heavy synchronizations (“Tennessee Bwoys,” “Make Room”) give the CD a down-home feel while discussions of true love and finding God keep their style fresh and honest.
Usher, a Chattanooga native, and 8Ball and MJG, of Memphis, have made the Volunteer State proud with their successes. Even if this Grits project fails to generate much commercially, Tennessee should be happy; these southern cats have brought something new to the table–and we ain’t talkin’ about no catfish and macaroni & cheese.