INTERVIEW: Kidd G’s Country-Trap Celebrates Being “A Teenage Boy, Out In The Country”

The 17-year-old "Dirt Road" vocalist is eyeing a "natural," and "guitar-driven" take on making new music

Like many teenagers, 17-year old Hamilton, Georgia native Jonathan Gabriel Horne is the product of proud parents. “I think my dad literally only plays my unreleased music around the house these days,” says Horne, aka Kidd G, the latest signee to Geffen Records’ Rebel Music imprint. Unreleased music for Kidd G these days comes in the wake of viral digital-era smash “Dirt Road.” The song — similar to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” Blanco Brown’s “The Get Up,” and Breland’s “My Truck” — continues a recent trend of, regardless of genre, emo-style trap rap emerging as a streaming era favorite.

“I can’t think of a way to define the space I occupy between rap and country,” Kidd G notes in a Zoom chat with CMT. “I’m just trying to think of the best thing that a song can be. For ‘Dirt Road,’ I was just expressing how I feel, as a 17-year-old teenage boy, out in the country, living life. Everybody’s been a teenager at some point, so I hope they relate to this song in some way.”

In a genre defined by “three chords and the truth,” trap’s take on country involves discussions of Roland 808 synthesizers, rap beats from independent music portals like Soundclick. A complex-seeming marketing strategy for relatively quickly-produced tracks involves not radio but rather streaming portals like TikTok and Soundcloud. It’s there where Kidd G’s single established itself as a rising hit.

Intriguingly though, to long-tail Kidd G’s career’s success, mapping his viral acclaim to more traditional country measures of success is necessary. Thus, following a well-received video clip featuring some mud-strewn off-road racing through the woods of Horne’s Georgia community, he’s picked up a guitar to strum out an acoustic version of his hit single that sounds and feels like it’s a comfortable fit on country radio between Luke Bryan and Luke Combs.

In this conversation, something of the person behind the streaming screen emerges. Less influenced by Kane Brown and Luke Combs and more inspired by Soundcloud rappers like SpotemGottem and traditional-style country artists like Justin Moore, Kidd G’s sound may be emerging, but his perspective certainly demands respect.

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