Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at 'Blacked Out,' the new album from Moonshine Bandits, a duo that's been carrying the "hick-hop" flag for longer that many realize.
WHO: Moonshine Bandits
WHAT: Blacked Out
The country music scene as a whole had to do some unexpected transitioning during 2015 when it suddenly became far, far less acceptable to tow around a confederate flag as part of one's onstage/album decorations. Some of even the most hardened of "outlaws" have acknowledged that, perhaps, the historical flag should be retired. One would imagine that this development would hit "hick-hop"—the odd hybrid of country and hip-hop—less hard. After all, shouldn't performers in this subgenre recognize the African-American influence in their music and therefore abhor what Ol' Dixie stands for?
Not in the case of Moonshine Bandits, which released its sixth studio album Blacked Out into a whole new political climate. The album's backwardness peaks on "Lasso," which takes the rebel theme and runs with it...while essentially ripping off Petey Pablo's 2001 hit "Raise Up": "For all my outlaw renegades / ripping up them backroads / put up your rebel flag / whip it like a lasso, lasso."
All of the ideas on Blacked Out are recycled. It's a problem affecting all subgenres of country music. We can live with the themes of drinkin', muddin' and everything else that goes with the territory. But taking a song by Pablo, a black man, and adapting it to include the confederate flag? Shameful. And all the references to Dixie are particularly ironic, considering this duo's hometown in Central California.
"Hick-hop" is a strange concept, which isn't to say it can't be done. Moonshine Bandits haven't made it work however, as Blacked Out's cocktail of clichés only makes it more eye-roll-worthy.