NAPPY ROOTS on
Having a day named in their honor, being the number one selling hip-hop group of 2002, a bundle of award nominations, and the continual words of praise from fans and industry insiders - none of it has tainted Nappy Roots' view on life and music.
"We're still ballin' on a budget," Nappy's Skinny Deville says about the six-man collective, which also includes Ron Clutch, Scales, R. Prophet, B. Stille, and Big V. "We're not materialistic. We're still working and have to earn that check."
"We're still hungry like we don't have anything," adds Stille. "We're keeping an eye on every penny."
Nappy's relentless work ethic and ever-evolving musical adeptness are displayed on "WOODEN LEATHER," the follow-up to their groundbreaking, RIAA platinum-plus Atlantic Records debut, "WATERMELON, CHICKEN & GRITZ."
"You can take it a couple of different ways," explains Deville of the title. "Wood and leather symbolize two staples in American society that people really take for granted. You can put on a leather coat to protect you from the weather. Pull out a leather belt for discipline. It's also part of American capitalism as far as success: leather interior in your car, a leather couch to sit on.
"'Wooden," he continues, "if you break it down, it comes from a seed to be a plant to be a tree. Wood is symbolic in America as a structure that made us who we are. Wood and leather put together is the classic combination. If you take care of them, the two of them will last forever. If you take care of this 'WOODEN LEATHER' CD, you'll continue to hear classic music, songs you can put on five, ten, a hundred years from now and say 'that was good music.'"
The first music from "WOODEN LEATHER" to escape from the studio were two classic cookups served up to feed the streets as well as the clubs - "Lac Dogs & Hogs" and "Twang" respectively.
"Lac Dogs & Hogs" not only pays homage to some of the Kentucky rhyming wildcats' favorite vehicles, but also unveils a sampling of how the group is dealing with their newfound fame and status.
Meanwhile, "Twang" serves as a boast anthem for the big body mommies. The usually musing rap clique shows yet another dimension of their flow and content arsenal, spitting their lyrics about voluptuous honeys over a track that incorporates a unique string pluck and space sound effects.
"Nappy Roots are more than just southern boys," says Big V of his group's beloved down home personas. "This time we want to express that a little more in our music. We're still the voice of the po' folks, we're still country folks, but we've seen more now. We can't just rap about that po' corner. We've seen the world. That's making us more diverse as MCs."
"It's broader, but more focused," chimes in Scales. "We're giving you more than what we had on 'WATERMELON...,' but we're fine-tuning the points."
"As MCs we've also stepped our game up," R. Prophet declares. "Lyrically we're better, and we have so many new styles we're coming with, you're not going to know what to expect."
"WOODEN LEATHER"'s official first single is "Roun' the Globe," where the fellas chant "the whole world is country."
"Definitely," Ron Clutch begins to explain about the song. "We've been to so many different places around the country and other parts of the world. Even though you may experience different cultures, there's something that always ties everyone together. Whether it be the love for music or the struggles we go through in our everyday lives."
Anthony Hamilton, one of the prime guest stars on "WATERMELON...," returns with more awe-inspiring soulful crooning via "Sick And Tired."
"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired," he sings. Meanwhile, Nappy comes with more ruminative rhymes, encouraging listeners not to settle and to try and overcome obstacles.
More fodder for pondering life comes in the bass heavy "Leave This Morning." R&B trailblazer Raphael Saadiq, who also produced two tracks on the album, helps the guys exhort people to strive for success, singing "I got work to do, I got a job to do."
Produced by dirty south representative David Banner, "Nappy Holiday" not only relives the group being honored by Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton with "Nappy Roots Day" on September 16, 2002, it also reminds us all about the importance of being happy with our everyday lives.
"Nappy Roots Day" was one of the plethora of honors bestowed upon the group after the 2001 release of "WATERMELON, CHICKEN & GRITZ," which spawned the smash singles, "Awnaw" and "Po' Folks."
In early 2003, they garnered a pair of Grammy Award nominations: for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Po' Folks," and for Best Long Form Music Video for their DVD, "THE WORLD ACCORDING TO NAPPY." Those honors came on the heels of their American Music Award nominations for Favorite New Artist and Favorite Band, Duo or Group - both in the Hip-Hop/R&B category.
In 2002, Nappy took their groundbreaking brew on the road for a series of high-profile tours. Last fall, they were one of the featured acts, along with N*E*R*D and 311, on the Sprite Liquid Mix Tour. The outings were headlined by Jay-Z and blazed trails by mixing hip-hop and rock. In the spring of '02, Nappy Roots were part of the WB Television Network's "WB On Tour" with funnyman Jamie Kennedy.
The group also gave back to their fans and the community, completing a television PSA in support of the PAX organization's "SPEAK UP" campaign against weapon-related school violence.
In June 2003, Nappy Roots were invited by the U.S. Government to perform for the American troops in the Persian Gulf as part of the USO's Project Salute 2003, the first large-scale entertainment tour to the region since Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"It was just an honor to even have gotten that call," Skinny said. "Of course we had to go over there and perform. This was a once in a lifetime experience."
And while the fellas, who always stay humble, are thankful for everything they've already accomplished, they are also confident that "WOODEN LEATHER" will solidify them amongst hip-hop's A-List line throwers.
"Just about the whole world is country," Big V reiterates. "98 percent of the people in the world are like us - the have-nots that desire more. To be able to rap that story and connect with so many people is a blessing."
--- from the official Nappy Roots website