When a rural Georgia-based rapper named Bubba Sparxxx released his first album came out in 1996 — three years before The Slim Shady EP — he earned sprinklings of local props. But fame didn’t truly arrive for Warren Mathis until after Eminem blasted through the Billboard charts and left the ground ripe for Sparxxx’s 2004 hits “Miss New Booty” and “Heat It Up.”
Alas, 1996 is more than 20 years behind us, and the now-41-year-old rapper has dropped Rapper from the Country, his first album since 2016’s The Bubba Mathis EP. He’s eschewed the major label accouterments that Virgin provided him back in 2004, opting instead for a more down-home flavor and aesthetic on his own label, New South Entertainment, which is distributed through E1.
Unfortunately, however, that “down home” flavor comes at a high price, and in the case of Rapper from the Country, that “price” is a compromised quality of product. While The Bubba Mathis EP was a breath of fresh open air — and indicative of a rapper who was content with leaving the past in the past — Rapper from the Country is more of the same-old, same-old “Hick Hop” that no longer sounds fresh in the Trump era.
The features on the album are minimal, and mostly from fellow Southern rappers, such as Cub da CookUpBoss. Though the names don’t hold any water in mainstream music, they’re semi-known within Southern rap circles, so there’s that.
The best that can be said about this entire album is that Sparxxx — to quote his seventh track — made sure that “ain’t shit changed.” And this theme of consistency is one that Sparxxx keeps all the way through to the last track, “Same Damn Bub,” where he raps, “It’s the same damn Bub/Every now and then you may slack up/When I’m on my shit though they can’t match up/And I’ma have to call the ol’ haystack up.” Good for Bubba for staying true to his roots, and according to Rolling Stone, his place in the pantheon of Southern Hip Hop — and, more specifically, “Hick Hop” — is already secured. As Bubba himself says, he has a lot to say, but nothing to prove.
And nothing, indeed, is proven, because Rapper from the Country is, unfortunately, a mostly forgettable album. It flew under the radar thanks to the Eminem/Machine Gun Kelly “beef,” but listeners really weren’t missing much.