At Western Kentucky University, the Southern rap group, Nappy Roots, formed in 1996. They started freestyling together and then shifted into recording music. After releasing Country Fried Cess independently in 1998, the group signed with Atlantic Records.
The best-selling hip-hop album of 2002 was Nappy Roots’ Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz, featuring the iconic singles “Awnaw” and “Po’ Folks.” Since the release of that album, the group has gone independent again and is currently working on new music. During Winter Break, I had the chance to interview B. Stille and Ron Clutch of Nappy Roots to discuss what they are currently working on the role of streaming in the music industry and advice for budding artists.
Maroon-News: The most recent Nappy Roots albums have been The 40 Akerz Project and Another 40 Akerz Project. After these past two 40 Akerz projects, what’s the plan on new music?
B. Stille: Yeah man, well right now we’re working on a new project. You’re probably the first person we’ve told. We’re working in Nashville with some producers who we’ve worked with in the past, 5 Star Productions. And they’ve done a lot of music on the country scene and hip-hop as well.
There’s an opportunity for us to mix the two genres together and come out with something really dope. The things we’ve been coming up with, the songs – I’m impressed. I can’t wait for people to hear it.
MN: Ron Clutch, you’ve been working on new music and during concerts, you perform some solo material. What’s your favorite song to perform, and are you planning on releasing a solo album?
Ron Clutch: Actually, I just released a new single called “Tomorrow Never Knows.” That’s my favorite from a couple of weeks ago. And a new album, that’s my plan, that’s my go. These days though, folks is dropping singles. Letting them stream.
MN: Do you think streaming is helpful or hurtful to the music industry?
Ron Clutch: It’s a double-edged sword because it gives artists who don’t have access to the radio a chance to be heard. Anybody can put music online. The downside is people downloading free music. I mean it’s not free, you get paid for it, but the royalties are so small.
MN: How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?
B. Stille: I’m enjoying it. There’s an opportunity for people, now that we have the internet, to listen to what they want and not be so programmed to listen to what the radio or MTV tells you to listen to. You have the opportunity to listen to your own station – Pandora, Spotify, Sirius. So when someone asks me, “Where’s so-and-so been?” I’m like, “You’re not on the wave of how to get music nowadays.” I don’t just listen to everything that is on the radio. The state of music right now, I don’t mind it, I like it. I think it’s kind of like how disco was about the beat and the dance and all of that. Then hip-hop changed that and went into the lyrical content and message. It’s a wave and it’ll come back I believe.
MN: Any advice for up-and-coming artists?
B. Stille: Surround yourself with positivity and creativity. Surround yourself with people who are like minded and push you out of your comfort zone. Not “yes” men. Learn about the music business; read some books. Listen. Do some due diligence. All of your favorite artists have a story. Read about how they got on… Get a crowd, steal a crowd. Get in front of the crowd and take them. Make them follow you… Learn from other people’s mistakes and the main thing is that it’s going to take a sacrifice. When I say that it means you have to give up something to show that you want it more than the next person. Remove your safety net and say “this is all I got.” The sacrifice will make you work harder. It separates those who do this as a hobby and those who do this professionally.
Ron Clutch: Stay true to yourself. Stay thirsty for life. Stay humble, stay hungry. At the same time, be your biggest fan.
Contact Tristan Niskanen at [email protected]