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By Jonas Beals
The connection between country and hip-hop unifies a particular frustration I have with both genres. Each of them prides itself on being "real," and yet their current popular incarnations can be anything but.
Country and hip-hop, two genres that sell a lifestyle, require their stars to engage in a little prestidigitation to maintain the illusion of gritty reality. I'm sure Jay-Z still loves to stand on a street corner in Brooklyn, but we all know he has more in common with Warren Buffett than a teenager struggling to make ends meet. Ditto for Brad Paisley, who still loves fishing, but is much more likely to do it with Steve Martin than you are.
So, when a rapper or a country singer uses these loaded signifiers to establish credibility or gravitas, I have to chalk it up to laziness and insecurity. They doth protest too much, methinks.
None of this is to say that these songs are bad, or don't hit the spot when you need a lightweight sing-along in the car. But if you're looking for real art--music that deals with reality, be it on the street or in a field--you'll have to dig a little deeper in each genre. It's out there, and some of it is incredible.
It's not too much to ask for something a little more meaningful from our music.
Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036
JONAS' IN-TOWN PICK: TJ Morgan & The Mason Branch Bluegrass Band at The Recreation Center. Friday at 8 p.m. OUT-OF-TOWN PICK: B.B. King at The Howard Theater in Washington. The first concert I ever saw was the Blues Boy at Dodd Auditorium. Thirty years later, the legend keeps rolling. Saturday at 8 p.m. LISTENING TO: "The Thanks I Get" by Wilco.