Nappy Roots’ latest venture into what may turn out to be a “classic” album is just another example of how a resurgence in a more traditional southern Hip Hop sound is making its way back into the limelight.
When asked about what the album will sound like, the Kentucky collective responded multiple times by explaining that their latest LP, Nappy.Org, will not only sound different than their previous work, it will be a sound unique to hip hop music.
One thing is for certain; Nappy Roots has never worked with Organized Noize, a production team often credited with creating “The Sound of the South” and an organization that is responsible for exclusively formulating the laidback melodies of OutKast’s momentous debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.
While this LP may be something new to the hip hop world, the names Nappy Roots and Organized Noize aren’t. With a recent solo release by Big Boi, OutKast’s much anticipated seventh LP dropping next year, Nappy Roots’ Nappy.Org and the induction of newer artists like Big K.R.I.T., the south may be sounding less like the ATL crunk days of the mid-2000s and more like a revamped version of the smooth, playalistic days of the 1990s.
HipHopDX recently spoke with the entire Nappy Roots crew and caught up with what’s new and what we can expect from this unique collaboration.
HipHopDX: Nappy Roots is coming out with a new album and who better to do it with than probably the greatest southern Hip Hop production team in history in Organized Noize, what’s good with the project?
Skinny DeVille: This is our third independent album off Fontana [Records]. The whole project has been phenomenal like what we created over just this year because we really just stared working on this project off the top of 2011 and what we’ve created is going to be heralded as a classic production between Nappy Roots and the group that brought OutKast and Goodie Mob to the forefront, Organized Noize. So in a sense we’ve got the Nappy Roots movement tied in with the Dungeon Family and the ability to make great/classical music and those two camps have created a masterpiece in regards to southern Hip Hop music.
Ron Clutch: The new project is phenomenal. Just having the opportunity to collaborate with Organized Noize and knowing what they’ve been through and the experiences they’ve brought to the table and the experiences we bring to the table and mixing all that together. It’s like when you we’re a little kid and you wondered what it would be like if Batman and Spiderman teamed up and they started fighting crime or what if this super-hero meets that superhero and they got on the same team, what all could they do? That’s what I think of in my brain. Nappy Roots-meets-Organized Noize. Goodie Mob was one of the reasons I took Rap seriously because they were telling the common man’s story and it sounded like someone who grew up right around the corner from me, so it let me know that okay, you can rap and say some real shit and still be popular and still be hot and folks want to follow you and check you out. So this situation was kind of like you’re a platinum-selling artist, but at the same time you’re in the room with an artist, I don’t want to say looked up to, but they definitely inspired you so it definitely was an experience.
Fish Scales: I don’t want to say that this topped this album or this topped this work but what I will say is people who follow Nappy Roots and know about us, nobody’s ever heard us the way that they’ll hear us on Nappy.org and I think it’s for the good what came out of this project with us working it.
DX: What kind of sound should listeners be expecting from this upcoming album? Throwback? Newer sounding?
Big V: Of course it’s going to sound like something that’s never been done before because Nappy Roots and Organized Noize have never met. There’s always been similar comparisons and it’s like, “What do you got?” and I’m like, “Damn I didn’t know it was like that. I got to make this better.” So it definitely is going to be what music needs and hasn’t heard. It’s going to be a breath of fresh air.
Fish Scales: This whole album is different because Nappy Roots has never really collabed or been associated with any other artists even when we came in the game with Watermellon, Chicken & Gritz, we didn’t come in on nobody’s back, we didn’t come in on no hot remix, we came in just Nappy Roots on our own so this whole album, Nappy.org, is giving us a chance to be in the studio with other artists like Goodie Mob and even OutKast, Andre  is coming into the studio. This is the first time we’ve really been associated with another big name such as Organized Noize so that in itself is different, you have a different Nappy Roots. It’s just something like the whole Dungeon Family embracing Nappy Roots and we’re kind of like the country cousins, we’ve still got that same music that was made popular in the mid-'90s by Organized Noize and you’ve still got that but you’ve got Nappy Roots flavor on it.
DX: Organized Noize has been credited with creating, “The Sound of the South.” What does it mean as a southern Hip Hop group to be working with them?
Skinny DeVille: For a certain period of time people always compared Nappy Roots to Goodie Mob and OutKast and we always thought that was good company to be sounding like but to have the producers of those guys and certify us and give us a ghetto pass. These guys have stepped up to the plate and can handle the same type of production that OutKast and Goodie Mob had, that to me seems like a great honor for us, we really are that dope. We’ve been saying it for a while but we humbly accept that we’re the most underrated Hip Hop group coming out of the south. We humbly accept the people that really respect us for what we do because we’re not playing no games. We might come from Kentucky but that doesn’t mean anything anymore. It might have meant something when the south was being defined early on in the early 2000s, but right now the whole south is winning and we’re part of that and have been part of that for a while. To be in the game for over ten years and had the opportunity to work with legendary producers to me, it’s the best feeling in the world to know that you don’t have to worry about your tracks not being looked over with a fine-tooth comb. You know you’re going to get dope production when you’re dealing with these guys and you have to come to the plate with lyrical savvy and creativeness and we stepped up to the plate as Nappy Roots and they’re helping us get better as lyrical artists and they showed us another way to make music. It’s the best feeling you can get when you are making music. You can make it in a stress-free environment. It’s a relaxing place we’re in right now. We don’t have to worry about the producer splits. It’s one set of producers, we’re not dealing with six or seven producers. Being independent, the last two albums we’ve had to deal with that all ourselves.
DX: Do we have an official release date yet?
Skinny DeVille: Right now we’re set for the end of September; we’re trying to get it in before the fourth quarter. If everything goes right it will be out there.
DX: Staying independent has been a trend in Hip Hop distribution for the last couple years and Nappy Roots has now put out their third project under your own independent label. What made you guys choose to go independent?
B. Stille: I think it came to us as a blessing as far as going out and trying to start this independent label. This has been something Nappy Roots’ had in our plans ever since we first met each other. There were no labels running to Kentucky to sign artists so we had looked at how Master P built his brand [with No Limit Records] and how Cash Money [Records] built their brand so basically we were like, “Man, this is how we should do our thing.” And whether it’s group-wise, duos, breaking down individually or solo acts but we had this planned a long long time ago, it just so happened that Atlantic [Records] came around in 1998 and we put out the first Nappy Roots album in 2002 and basically we built our fan base and just for us to have done that, it’s such a blessing. The main thing that keeps us with a positive outlook is definitely our fans and our fan base and knowing that we put out a product and we’re able to reach these people, they’re going to love our album whether it’s Albuquerque, New Mexico, Louisville, Kentucky, New Zealand or wherever, it’s nice to know our product can be felt all over the world.
DX: You guys helped establish Hip Hop in Kentucky. With the south kind of taking a dive into the commercial world and not really sounding like the OutKast’s or Goodie Mob’s of the '90s. But now with OutKast putting out an album next year, you guys putting out an album, Big K.R.I.T. making noise, is true southern Hip Hop sound possibly making a return? What is your role in that?
Skinny DeVille: I think it’s good that these things are coming out and for us and you kind of have to ride the wave as an artist. You have your time when you come in and you shoot for success as a group and there are times when groups are not in and people just want to hear one individual artist and so if you’re group, you kind of got to ride the wave of the fans wanting to hear what they want to hear and you kind of have to fill that in and when that opportunity comes you got to strike. We’ve been in it for a while and we know that we’re not going to be hot all year, every year just because you got a record out right now, it doesn’t guarantee you’re in it. For us, being seasoned (veterans) of the music business and the Hip Hop and music industries being cutthroat, I think it’s good for competition to have different things going on in different forms of the cycle and everything comes back around. If it was hot four or five years ago it will be back around. If it was hot last year, it may not be hot right now but it’ll be back. So you have to wait things out and if you’re a dedicated artist and your trying to get a career, it’s not a big deal. I like Big K.R.I.T., I’ve met him, I was a fan when I first heard his music. I think he’s good for country Hip Hop, I think it’s good for southern Hip Hop, but more than that I just think it’s good for Hip Hop. Just to show a variety where it’s not always just crunk and people getting a bad perception of what Hip Hop is from the south because certain people want to dance to that sort of sound right now so they see Hip Hop as all fun and games and that’s not true at all. Even OutKast coming back shows that they’re not giving up and are having fun no matter how long they’ve been in the game. We do it for the fans and how we express ourselves comes out with people that can relate so I think that for us to have that kind of Hip Hop coming on and being recognized right now, I think it’s great. For people to want to hear it, it shows testament to our whole movement and struggle.
DX: The south kind of has a bond that is unique to Hip Hop music; Kind of an underdog mentality and you are involved with artists like Goodie Mob and other southern Rap factions. What makes the south unique?
Big V: We do that naturally because it’s not that of a competitive nature to us. Music is free like when Marvin Gaye or the Isley Brothers did it. We like to make music. If you look at Rick Ross, you look at what he’s doing, it’s a beautiful thing and if you look at the Cash Money’s and the Young Money’s and all the other artists, the Bun B’s and the Nappy Roots, everybody’s making beautiful music and I’m not worried about what they do, I’m worried about what I do and in the south we have our own link.