Nappy Roots Gave Hip-Hop a Southern Side

Submitted by notoriousclassics on Fri, 02/25/2022 - 21:10
Nappy Roots in 2005

While 2002 might be remembered by some as a year of hit albums by Eminem, Nelly, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg - a deft mix of East Coast, West Coast and midwestern emcees - it was also a time for the South to rise. At the center of it all: Nappy Roots, a hip-hop collective hailing from an unlikely homebase: Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The sextet came together on the campus of Western Kentucky University; members Skinny DeVille, B. Stille, Big V and Ron Clutch all hailed from the state, while R. Prophet and Fish Scales came from California and Georgia, respectively. The buzz around debut album Country Fried Cess (1998) led to a plum record deal, culminating in major-label debut Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz at the top of 2002.

Listening back to the tracks off Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz - including Top 10 rap chart hit "Po' Folks," the Jazze Pha team-up "Awnaw" and "Headz Up" - you'll hear a group who wasn't afraid to mix swag with the truth. Going platinum with the album, and even getting their own state holiday (celebrated on Sept. 16), didn't change them. "There are more people in the world who can't relate," B. Stille said in 2002 about rapping about bling and ballin'. "It's reality, people have bills, people have problems - that's what we choose to write about. It's not like we promote this, but we live it."

Though the group slimmed down to a quartet over the years - R. Prophet left in 2006, and Big V in 2012 - the group remained active touring and recording at least through 2018, staying true to their roots while continuing to turn heads well past the borders of the Bluegrass State.

"We say some things that aren’t really child appropriate sometimes, but Nappy Roots definitely makes music for picnics—something you can play that everybody’s gonna like,” Stille summed up the group in 2011.