Black Music Month: Nappy Roots - Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz

"Nappy smokin blacks out on the back po'ch
I'm thinkin I got everything a country boy could ask for"

Nappy Roots is a name that you probably recognize for being the top group out of the south for several years and just fading away. Their debut album Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz was received with mixed reviews ranging from "A true representation of the south" all the way to "An album that's 20 tracks too long" when the deluxe version of the album only contains a total of 21 tracks. Robert Christgau simply wrote "Direct from a BET Cartoon series to you," and gave it one star for his full review of the album.

I can understand why there were bad reviews. The instrumentals will get repetitive and there's only so many banjos and washboards you can hear before you get tired of it. The album is filled with classic southern styled beats filled with bonus instruments to add an extra southern backwoods feel and it wears you down eventually. It's understandable that they wanted to differentiate themselves from Outkast because they were THE southern group at the time and everyone was compared to them. It makes sense to differentiate yourselves from them but at times it could be an annoyance.

Lyrically the group is all over the place. There's six of them and not everyone is on the same level lyrically. Lyrically there are plenty of great moments but it's all over the place. Not just in the ability but in subject matter. At any given time on the same track you can hear one member celebrating his time in the drug game, followed by another finding peace and salvation in the church.

Even with all that, the album is three times platinum so there has to be something good about it. It's not even the tracks "Awnaw," "Po' Folks," or "Slums," that feature some of the best lyricism on the album as well as proof that they can be both self-reflective and observative of their surroundings. Simply put, the album bangs. Sure, a lot of the tracks can run together but it bangs and has the ability to lift your spirits. When "Headz Up," comes on you're likely to blow out a speaker to the simple, repetitive song because it bangs and that's the joy of this album.

Behind the repetitive bangers there is still a message. The album makes a point to display that black people love to party is because it's an escape. I've never been to a funeral that didn't have a cookout or party afterwards with alcohol and laughs flowing way more than tears.

Hidden in the party positive album are lyrics that display the heavy racism and violence in the south like "Some mo' had murdered my granddady over real-estate" as well as "Face it, we're livin with racists, outrageous, wild, hostile, who shake up stages, and be contagious." Partying isn't a symptom of the problem it's the antidote to everything that surrounds them.

They even go on to explain that the reason they love spending money isn't to show off. It's simply because they never had any and want to spend it before it's gone. Even after the partying they have to return to the real world. Partying can be fun but in the long term it's a temporary relief to the real issues that continually plague the black community from day to day.

Chicken, Watermelon and Gritz is a perfect name for the album because it provides three different takes on life. The watermelon is sweet. It's the things we enjoy; money, clothes, loose women partying etc. The chicken is savory, we try to hold on to it. Things we hold close; family, religion, friend etc. Lastly the gritz represents the gritty things. These are things we simply take as part of life; racism, oppression, drug addiction and sales, loss of loved ones etc.

Feel free to follow along with our Black Music Month Series

You can hear Darrell on the CP Time and Powerbomb Jutsu podcasts. He also plays classic arcade games on The Cabinet
Black Music Month: Nappy Roots - Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz Black Music Month: Nappy Roots - Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz Reviewed by Darrell S. on Wednesday, June 03, 2015 Rating: 5

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