Official Site: | @gangstagrass |
Sometimes you just know what has to be done and you can’t put it off any longer. History has to be made and there is no other way than to just jump in the deep end and go all out. In the summer of 2007, Brooklyn based producer, singer, and songwriter Rench was at just such a crossroads. He had been producing honky-honk infused trip-hop albums of his own material for several years, and had also developed a stable of NYC hip-hop emcees that came to him to record their albums. And a little idea had been nagging at him: Take the rap vocals, add beats, and use classic bluegrass for all the instrumentation. Call it Gangstagrass. So Rench took the dive. He cancelled all other plans and spent the next month sequestered in his basement studio, several boxes from his classic bluegrass album collection by his side. The rappers he had worked with had no idea about the likes of Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe or the Carter Family, but agreed anyway to let Rench use their tracks. He emerged with what is now known as “Gangstagrass Volume 1”, a 22 track epic album of heavy hip-hop rhymes perfectly blended with old-time banjo riffs and bluesy dobro slides as though it was the result of a real-time jam session. Rench promptly offered the whole album as a free download. Over the next two years word of the album spread, and the word was this: You may not think country music and hip-hop music could go together. Think again. Hundreds of thousands of downloads later, Gangstagrass was clawing its way onto the American musical landscape. In early 2010, the free album got into the hands of the producers of a new FX show titled “Justified.” The producers felt that Rench’s music fit the “Wild West meets modern-day society” theme of the show, and asked Rench to create a new Gangstagrass track for the show’s opening theme music. Rench worked with Bronx native and younger brother of early hip-hop stars Special K and T-LaRoc, T.O.N.E-z (an emcee featured on several tracks of Gangstagrass Volume 1) to create “Long Hard Times To Come” for the Justified theme song. But this time the instrumentation would come from live bluegrass musicians. Rench assembled an all-star team of pickers to join him at his Brooklyn studio and re-create the Gangstagrass sound, but the live instrumentation far surpassed what Rench had made before. The hip-hop/bluegrass hybrid had come all the way.