Nappy Roots

The Nappy Roots' sophomore release, Wooden Leather, stomps into retail stores with the clap-inducing "Roun' the Globe," a midtempo number with twangy guitar chords and snare drums. Inspired by their travels, it's a celebration of humanity via a good ol' fashioned country hoedown.

Boasting a wide range of producers, Wooden Leather is an assortment of sounds and feels, with Nappy's potent lyrical content holding it all together. Growth and an increased understanding of self is the focus, and each member of the sextet speaks on the fine line between stardom and staying grounded. On the L. "D.B." Crump-produced "Nappy Holiday," a jovial song about the modesty they feel after being honored with their own day in their home state of Kentucky, Big V and Prophet take turns rhyming the verse "We struggled for too long/But now we can move on so put that on my tombstone/We are because I am ain't hard to understand it/Far from a shooting star/Rather play on my planet."

By presenting realistic topics like student loans, unplanned pregnancies, and family drama in an unpretentious manner, the Nappy Roots successfully translate their esoteric Southern notions about "country" into something universal and appealing. Despite their professed love for Cadillacs on the xylophone-fueled "Lac Dogs and Hogs," Wooden Leather is devoid of the pervasive platinum and diamond blah, blah, blah found on many mainstream hip-hop albums, catapulting the group into a small category of artists who are not only insightful but know how to throw one hell of a party.

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Christopher Sanders