Nappy Roots: The Pursuit Of Nappyness

By Jonathan Hay   /   Published 03/21/08

Nappy RootsHailing from Kentucky, the Grammy-nominated music group known as Nappy Roots exploded into the hip-hop scene with their massive hit single, "Awnaw" in 2002 from their platinum, Atlantic Records debut album titled, Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz. The group followed up with Wooden Leather, their critically acclaimed major label sophomore album, and have since worked with the who's who of the music industry -- such as Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq, Kanye West, David Banner, Lil Jon, and Jazze Pha, to name a few.

Like any true success story, there have been roadblocks and setbacks, but Nappy has more than cemented their feet and are here to stay. In their home state of Kentucky, Governor Paul Patton even sanctioned September 16th as Nappy Roots Day.

Nappy Roots are back again, exactly in the position they want to be in... as they gain artistic freedom in their careers, and land a new deal with Fontana (a division of Universal Music Group). Highly intelligent artists, passionate about political views and really wanting to make an impact in the world, the group spent an hour with BallerStatus.com speaking on everything from hip-hop to Barack Obama to the marijuana of Kentucky, known as the bluegrass state.

BallerStatus.com: What happened with your situation at Atlantic Records?

B. Stille: The second Nappy album, Wooden Leather, was released in the middle of that merger between Warner, Elektra and Atlantic, with a lot of bullsh** and label politics. The label slept on Nappy Roots and we felt blackballed from them. The powers to be at Atlantic were killing artists' dreams. Killing dreams, man that is f***ed up! We were mad, we heard a lot of gossip and too many people at the label were spreading lies about us. We are glad to be off that motherf***in' label. Our music was falling on deaf ears and Nappy needed to be heard.

Skinny Deville: They dropped the ball not just on us, but Fat Joe and Lil Kim that year as well. We weren't alone, but we got isolated and left for dead. F*** it. Ain't no sense in crying over spilled milk. It was a blessing. We were in a situation that didn't benefit us in the long run. The fame didn't match the money at the end of the day. We woke up and wanted out -- and they knew it.

BallerStatus.com: When did you officially leave Atlantic Records?

Skinny D: We wanted off in 2004 for creative differences because they wanted some hee-haw bullsh-- and we were like "Nahhh." Yeah we're from Kentucky, but don't get this country sh** twisted. N****s is still getting killed, harassed, and wrongfully incarcerated by the dozens. They didn't want us to keep it that real, so we didn't give them sh** the whole year as far as music was concerned and we left Atlantic Records in 2005. Since then, we've dropped some classic independent albums, mixtapes and been grinding hard. We started working on a new and better label deal for Nappy Roots. We are very blessed to be sitting in the position that we are in right now. God is truly good.

BallerStatus.com: What is the new label situation for Nappy Roots?

Skinny Deville: This is the first time we've talked about this with the media, so this is huge news for Nappy Roots. We just finished a distribution deal with Fontana (a division of Universal) for Nappy Roots Entertainment Group or NREG, which is what we call it. They will distribute our two labels, 14th & KY Records and Stick Boy Music. Both are divisions of NREG and will put out music and film projects over the next few years. We are excited to be in a partnership with Fontana, they're a great company and we've heard nothing but good sh** about them. We are all entrepreneurs, man, and we now have full creative control of our careers and business. We will be releasing Nappy projects and also solo projects. We are like Master P on some Wu-Tang Clan sh** (laughs).

BallerStatus.com: Can you explain in detail what The Humdinger is all about?

Skinny Deville: The new album will be titled The Humdinger and we are expecting a late April or early May release. The Humdinger means "a remarkable or outstanding person or thing of its kind." In this situation we feel that our next album is just that The Humdinger. It's a non-stop ride guaranteed to take the listener on a journey into what we like to call "Nappy Hour," which is similar to happy hour at your favorite drinkin' well. You're gonna get full off this music that we pretty much mastered. We've put a lot of attention into detail and we feel this is good music for the masses to enjoy.

Ron Clutch: The Humdinger means in laments terms "the sh**." It's a album you can ride to. You pop it in and just rollout. It's gonna take you a lotta places, so just buckle up and enjoy the ride. It's what you expect from a Nappy album, banging beats and stellar lyrics. This will be the first project under our new deal with NREG/Fontana.

BallerStatus.com: You've mentioned that people have been spreading lies about the group. Can you clarify some of the rumors about the Nappy Roots break-up talk, and disgruntled group members leaving? Are all of the original members of Nappy Roots still intact?

Skinny Deville: Damn, you heard about that? Nah, we ain't broke up, but we are short one member. R. Prophet chose to pursue his solo career 100% at the top of 2007. We supported him in his decision, but it was something that we as a group were not prepared to just sit back and watch. I can't say anything negative about my man at all and won't ever... I wish him the best in all his endeavors, but at the end of the day, we are all grown ass men with bills to pay and kids to feed. If you ain't about Nappy, then we ain't reading from the same page or the same book for that matter. We've been through some sh** these past few years and we've stuck together as a group through all of the bullsh**. We had a plan for our absence in the midst of it all and for the most part, it worked. I would've loved for everybody to be a part of it at the end of the day, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Ron Clutch: It never ceases to amaze me how rumors spread, but you know what they say "where there's smoke, there's fire." Definitely things have changed in the Nappy Roots dynamic, but for the most part, Nappy as a group is still doing the damn thing with the exception of R. Prophet, who is whole heartily pursuing solo interest. So, he's doing his own thing. I still consider R.P. as Nappy, so I wish him nothing but the best.

BallerStatus.com: You've already experienced a lot of success with Anthony Hamilton. Can you confirm that Anthony Hamilton will also be on the upcoming album?

Skinny D: A. Ham is definitely gonna be on the new album. That's our country cousin. He will be on a record called "Down 'N Out." I promise that this record will hit home to so many people.

B. Stille: I talk to A. Ham frequently. He's not just a phenomenal singer, he's also a good friend and in this business, there aren't many people you can say that about. That is our family and we are so proud of his success. The song that he is featured on is produced by Big Block from Chat-Town and it screams for a Grammy nomination! Must've been meant for us to link up, because every time we record something, it's magic.

BallerStatus.com: Do you have a first single selected yet, and if so, what is the name of the single and when can the general public expect the release for radio?

Skinny Deville: We've been buzzin' one or two singles out there. The first one is dedicated to Kentucky's no. 1 cash crop titled "Who Got It, Where's It At?" The next joint is called "Good Day," which will definitely be making a lot of noise this spring. Trust me when I say that we are geared up and prepared to hit our fans with a slew of Nappy tunes all through 2008.

BallerStatus.com: I love that you guys have coined your upcoming spring tour as The Pursuit of Nappyness. Can you share some more information about the tour?

Skinny Deville: Well, basically we know that we gotta grind our asses off to get back to our fanbase and let them know that we still are here to make good music, as well as those fans of hip-hop that weren't around and don't remember us at all. We decided to call it that cause it's just like the movie where Will Smith's character busted his ass to get where he wanted to be in life. It'll start in soon, for 50 cities, 10 weeks, House of Blues type of clubs. Intimate, and getting up-close and personal with the fans. The tour dates will be announced soon on our MySpace page, so keep checking for them.

BallerStatus.com: When I was speaking to you the other day, Skinny, we were talking about producers for the new album and just hip-hop producers in general. Can you share some information about the Nappy Roots producers?

B. Stille: A lot of producers submit tracks and try to cater to our sound. They want to try and create that "nappy" sound. It's almost like we are pigeon-holed to a certain sound. We aren't just country rap artists; we love that New York sh**, that hip-hop sh**. We are open about working with anything if it's real. It's got to be that reality rap sh**. We are real people doing real sh**.

Skinny Deville: We worked with producers like Sol Messiah, Joe Hopp, Big Al, 3 Kingz, Groove Chambers, Mr. DJ, Rick Rock, Big Block, Sekem Re', Chi Dulley and DJ K.O. I know, most of these guys, you ain't never heard of before, but you will. And that's what it's all is about to me, finding fresh talent who is willing to think outside the box and give their all for a project. For most of those cats, it was never about the money, ever. Of course we discussed it later, but it wasn't the first topic of conversation. Some didn't even want money, they just wanted a chance to get their tracks heard. That's hip-hop to me. F*** the money, let's do it for the love, let's do it because the people need to hear it, let's do it to step it up another notch. Hell, the game needs it, because what's going on right now is getting redundant and predictable. That's why the record sales are down. Fans just bought that same egotistical simple ass sh** a year ago from MC Such-N-Such and you can fill that name in with anybody who fits the description.

BallerStatus.com: Do you guys personally check and respond to your fans' messages and requests on the Nappy Roots MySpace page?

Nappy Roots: All of us check and answer our own MySpace mail. The MySpace is directly connected to our Blackberries, so get in contact with us. Hit us up!

B. Stille: I just wanna plug an upcoming project I've been working on for a minute. It's called "Street Idolz" and it's a reality TV show that focuses on rappers who are "really" in the streets. How do we know? Cause that's where we are, in the streets filming these talented rappers where they live, work, or hustle. Coming to a hood near you real soon, but y'all can get a sneak peak on our website, Streetidolz.com.

BallerStatus.com: Who is Nappy Roots favorite Presidential election candidate?

Ron Clutch: Definitely Barack Obama. Obama is Nappy (laughs), Obama is like a real rap star (laughs), or Hilary [Clinton] too. I wouldn't mind seeing Hilary in the White House because I know Bill would be somewhere around. I wouldn't mind seeing a woman president. Anybody at this point would be a good change because America is considered a f***ing joke right now.

Skinny Deville: President Bush is a f***ing idiot! F** Bush! The America dollar is at its lowest value ever. Home foreclosures in the country are at an all-time high. Our economy has been raped by puppet Bush and his clueless cabinet. Gas prices, taxes, the healthcare... all that is bullsh**. He's gonna leave a f***ed up legacy. The "real" president won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on Global Warming. Al Gore, for those that don't keep up with the world.

BallerStatus.com: What about the people who criticize Barack Obama about his lack of political experience?

Ron Clutch: Just being a black man in America is enough experience -- to overcome all the opposition he faced. He went from the bottom to the top. That is some real experience, and he is intelligent. We performed for Obama, shook his hand... he is a real dude. This is history, man. Look how far he has come being Nappy. We have grown up in a Black generation without Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, we don't have any Black Panthers, and we need a voice. We need a black leader to step up and lead the people. Go out and vote, if the vote really counts.

Skinny Deville: Even if he doesn't become President or VP, he can still be a black leader to the people who need leadership. Black or white, the country needs someone who can unite the people and spark a revolution of ideas and values for the next generation to come.

BallerStatus.com: I really feel that. I don't really know if the vote decides the election. I personally think one thing decides the election; it's called, "The Illuminati."

All together: Exactly. The whole f***ing country is rigged. It's all fake and the truth is right at your doorstep. We need to rise up as people. We need balance and a whole new way of thinking, a new thought process. We are in desperate need of change. It's time for a Nappy Hour!

BallerStatus.com: A lot of people say Nappy Roots has a marijuana induced sound (laughs). Is there really any good weed in Kentucky?

B. Stille: I think it's mixed with a few shots of the Patron (laughing), but there is definitely good weed in Kentucky. Kentucky has the climate and land, so it is most def out here. Nappy Roots is that blunt music. We spend a lot of time on the interstate, or on a highway with a blunt, sparkin' some thoughts with our music.